Writers Digest asked Robopaclypse author Daniel H. Wilson how he got his agent. His answer? “I wrote a query letter to an editor — a friend of a friend. The editor called me an idiot, told me never to contact an editor directly, and then recommended three literary agents he had worked with before. Laurie Fox was one of them, and I’ve never looked back.” So, do NOT contact an editor directly nowadays?
Gads. I hope Mr. Wilson was summarizing the sentiment of the letter, not quoting it. It’s hard to imagine an editor using such unprofessional verbiage with a writer. Kudos to Mr. Wilson for sticking it out and landing his agent… and a movie deal with Steven Spielberg (2013)! There’s sweet revenge, eh? Wilson’s was a “referral” submission and is quite common. As it should be—that’s called networking. Editors learn early in their careers how to respond to all kinds of referrals and rarely include accusations of idiocy. The best way to go about a referral is to have your friend contact the editor personally and ask if and how the submission could be made. This gives an editor who isn’t open to such submissions a chance to decline and provide agent names or submission hints, keeping everyone’s dignity intact.