A: The pace of publishing changes between seasons. Agents have to be sensitive to the time of year when submitting to projects to editors. Book Fair months are far too busy–April (London Book Fair) and October (Frankfurt Book Fair) for adult publishing and March (Bologna) for children’s publishing. The summer is another time of year that raises questions. Agents are usually catching up on their reading, but not submitting to editors because publishers rarely have acquisition meetings in August. We’re all gearing up for the fall literary season. And it’s safe to assume that publishing shuts down for December holidays.
So when should writers be submitting to agents?
Realistically, you can be querying us at any time of the year. (However, some agents close to queries at various points so check their websites for details.) We look at our slush pile all year long. Some times of year when we’ll be slower at getting back to you are book fair months, when we’re at conferences, and the December holiday season. The summer can actually be a good time to submit to agents because we’re catching up on our reading anyway. I signed two authors last summer.
There are no odds at play and no games to ‘win.’ It’s about writing a great manuscript and querying the agents that are most likely to represent you (i.e. agents who represent what you write and are actively looking for new authors.) A well-written, targeted query will always stand out.
No matter what time of year, the important thing is that your manuscript is READY.
Don’t assume we’ll read your manuscript right away
I’ve seen an upswing in authors simultaneously submitting to very small print presses and e-publishers as well as literary agents. I’m going to share my frustrations with this practice. I understand that writers are looking for a ‘win’ in a sea of rejection and to get themselves bumped up in the slush pile, but this is counterintuitive and here’s why:
It suggests that you and an agent might have very different ideas about the market for your book and vision for your career.
If a writer submits to agents, small presses, and e publishers what outcome are they looking to achieve? Get a small press deal and have an agent negotiate it? Get an e-publishing offer and turn it down once you’ve accomplished what you wanted: to get an agent? Use a small deal to leverage a bigger one? Ditch it all once you get an agent and then shoot for a publisher with a bigger distribution channel?
Agents are running a business and we have systems in place that works for a reason. We’re looking to discover fantastic new writers in the slush and it’s okay just to query us and not have an offer attached to your project. Don’t waste anyone time, including your own, by throwing your project into any open door in the industry. Get an agent, find one that understands your needs and loves your work, and then tackle this crazy industry together with a similar vision for your career.
Yes, the industry is changing quickly, but guess what? Great agents are ahead of the curve and know how small presses and e-publishing work and their place in the greater publishing ecosystem.
Yes, coming to an agent with an offer of representation is a good way to get yourself read quicker by an agent, but it’s almost a false start because we’re going to evaluate you on the same principles as we would anyone else.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against small presses, Continue reading Why simultaneously submitting to very small presses and literary agents is not working
I get a lot of queries for middle grade because I sell and represent YA and picture books. I have skipped over representing middle grade and I’ll tell you why.
It’s not because there isn’t a terrific market, or great editors, agents, and authors–because there are some great people working in MG and there are some fantastic MG books.
But I suggest you find those agents who do because I’ve never connected with the MG voice, and I don’t think I would recognize a good MG manuscript if I was queried with one.
I don’t request any material from queries that are addressed to me that are in the MG category. So save yourself an email.
To read about the genres and categories I do represent click here.
If agents offer responses to queries and requested material (4 to 8 weeks is standard) it might seem like a long time to wait. You’ve just sent them the most important document you’ve ever written! (Or something to that effect…) Here’s why it’s worth the wait:
- Not only are agents trying to balance incoming queries and combing them for projects that pique their interest, agents are simultaneously managing the projects and careers of the agents they do have.
- When you get an agent you’ll want and expect them to give their full attention to you, so you have to respect how agents divide their time in the process leading up to that stage.
- I know weeks seems like a long time, but an agent doesn’t have time on a daily basis to check queries let alone read manuscripts that are not from clients. Agents read queries and requested material once all the other work is done, and even then it takes days and weeks to make time. Continue reading Agent response times