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Let's Discuss! Do Connections and Readiness Go Hand In Hand?
In general, I don't think a writer should contact an agent without a referral or connection. If a writer hasn't gotten out there enough to have met agents at conferences or met other writers who know agents, she's not ready for an agent. Being part of the world of writing for children is what takes a writer to a new level and gets her ready to be published. Children's writers form a unique community. They look at each other's work and help each other improve and learn, so a referral from another writer means a lot to me.
I agree to some extent. I do think, if you're networking, making friends, participating in one or more critique groups, going to conferences and workshops, etc. you're bound to make some connections (even doing just one or two of these). Also, if you're writing has reached the level that it needs to be at, I'd like think you'd connect with some writers (friends or otherwise) who are excited enough about your writing to want to refer you to their agents. Note the very large, subjective IF.
Now, I did say to some extent; not only because taste in writing/story is so subjective, but also because I don't expect that most writers would make a lot of these connections. So if you have, let's say, five connections and none of them pan out, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to twiddle your thumbs until you've had a chance to make more (though you might want to get another critique or three to reassure yourself it was ready in the first place.). It's possible that the best agent for you isn't even connected to anyone you know, and plenty of amazing writers have been pulled from slush.
What are your thoughts on this?