Yesterday I wrote that James Rollins had given hopeful authors bad advice. (He said to ignore certain submission guidelines when pitching agents and editors.)
I said a better approach is to get to know the agents and editors who interest you. This is so you can see whether you're a good match. The Internet makes this easier than ever before, at least in some cases. If an agent or editor blogs, you can get a nice sense of that person's working style, point of view, and taste.
You don't want to start stalking the editors and agents who are out there, of course. You don't have to comment incessantly, memorize small details, and bring those up in person. That can seem a little like the Kathy Bates character in "Misery"..."I'm your number one fan...."
Rather, it's just one more bit of information you can use to build a solid, professional foundation. Ultimately, your writing or illustration will have to be the thing. But editors and agents are people first, so approaching them with interest, understanding and respect is essential.
Elana Roth will be visiting us at our monthly meeting in September. She blogs from time to time on her agency Web site. Here's what she has to say.