The New York Times obituary for E. Lynn Harris, the incredibly successful author who wrote about black men on the down low, has this little gem about the beginning of his mainstream success:

In one way, Mr. Harris owed his success to a stranger. One day in the early 1990s, he walked into a bookstore in Atlanta to try to persuade the store manager to carry his self-published book and was given some advice from a saleswoman on the floor whose name he never learned. She told him that he needed a New York agent and that the agent he needed was a man named John Hawkins.

“She mentioned me,” said Mr. Hawkins, who took on “Invisible Life” and sold it to Anchor Books.

“I have no idea who she was or how she knew of me,” Mr. Hawkins said. “But he contacted me, and I read his book, and I said ‘Sure.’ ”