Querying through the holidays

books fireplace favim.comLots of writers ask when the best time to query an agent is, so here’s a breakdown of my tips about querying through the winter holidays.

Just because you have time off from your day job, doesn’t mean agents have time to read your query. We’re inundated!

  • The volume of queries goes up from December to January. We are just as busy as we alway are–even though you’re off from work–therefore we will not be getting back to you as quickly. A 4-6 week reply turns into 6-8 weeks.
  • Starting this week, American Thanksgiving, through to the first week of January publishing slows its pace. People in publishing start taking holidays, using their weekends for (GASP!) fun and holiday parties, not reading like we usually do. Therefore, we’re going to be slower with our partial and full requests.
  • We are still looking for new projects, as always, but just know you’re competing with a big batch. There are exceptions to every rule, but just be aware of these trends.

Published by Carly Watters

Carly Watters is a SVP, senior literary agent and director of literary branding with the P.S. Literary Agency. She is a hands-on agent that develops proposals and manuscripts with attention to detail and the relevant markets. PSLA’s mission is to manage authors’ literary brands for their entire career. Never without a book on hand she reads across categories which is reflected in the genres she represents and is actively seeking new authors in including women’s fiction, commercial and upmarket fiction, select literary fiction, platform-driven non fiction and select memoir. She occasionally represents children's book projects. Carly is drawn to emotional, well-paced narratives, with a great voice and characters that readers can get invested in.

21 thoughts on “Querying through the holidays

  1. Thanks for the post! This topic has been on my mind. I was thinking of waiting until Jan 13- a week after all the holidays end. Do you think this would be enough time to wait to limit my chances of getting lost in the pile, or do you think it would be better to wait a little longer? Thanks!


  2. I always appreciate your articles and take them seriously. This one has good information. However, comments implying we don’t work or don’t have to work, and things like “Gasp” as if we don’t know you work are kind of demeaning. We may be struggling to get published (while working multiple jobs), but you don’t have to write down to us.


    1. Thanks for the feedback, Richard. My meaning was that we’re always reading on the weekends (like I’m sure you are writing on the weekends) and we’re going to take some time off for once!


  3. This is good information, thank you for posting it. I too was just thinking about this, not so much because you shouldn’t have a holiday (do people really think that?) but because I’m almost ready to start querying myself. I guess it still boils down to “do the next thing on the list”.


  4. Thank you, Carly, for this wonderful information! I love knowing about the inside scoop to the literary agent world! I hope you have a wonderful holiday and happy reading! ;-)


  5. Your blog makes it clear that you know just how much writers are waiting for even the tiniest scrap of insight from agents, and we appreciate it. I queried you today, because I am ready, but I’m completely aware that you’ll want to enjoy your holiday, and then when you get back there will no doubt be a pile of NaNoWriMo queries waiting. Take your time and happy Thanksgiving!


  6. I sat with my finger on the send button, debating whether to send or not. Should I wait? Should I send it? Thank you for your advice; and after reading the comments I felt better — everyone else feels that same apprehension. Thanks for your advice, Carly — your articles are humbling and educational — I’ve learned so much!


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