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.
Many of you out there have written a book. (At least I’m assuming so if you are reading this blog…) But, have you all thought about what you truly want out of the publishing experience?
If you’re querying agents I hope you want to be traditionally published and be able to work in a collaborative partnership. However, some of you might get an agent and think: “Is this what I really wanted?”
Those of you with entrepreneurial spirits might feel resentful if you don’t get a deal right away, knowing you could self publish.
Those of you with trust issues might not be ready to pass off the baton to get to the finish line.
Those of you with friends in the business might feel jealousy creep up over your shoulder when it feels like everyone around you is getting book deals before you.
Steady and affirm your intentions in this process.
On Friday I posted Part I of this series on the role of an associate agent featuring how I came to my current role as Associate Agent at the P.S. Literary Agency. Today I want to write about what I have learned in my role thus far.
Value of international conferences and book fairs. If you work in the business or know a bit about how it works, you’ll know that senior members of the industry and rights personnel attend international book fairs and many members of the industry as a whole attend conferences. While you need to be comfortable via email and phone there is no comparison to meeting your colleagues face to face to chat about catalogues and what they’re acquiring. This week I’m at the International Festival of Authors in Toronto speaking with industry professionals from Brazil, China, French Canada, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S.
There are no guarantees. What you think might be a hit, might surprise you and vice versa. It’s a subjective industry that deals with changing interests and trends. That’s what makes it fun, a challenge, and exciting all at the same time.
Trends are not enough. Agents cannot follow each trend as it ebbs and flows, we have to love the work and clients we represent. A longterm relationship like representation is not a flash in the pan while trends are hot. We ride out trends, try to create new ones, but have to believe in the merits of our authors whether they are ‘on trend’ or bordering the cusp of one.
Get comfortable with the phone. Agenting does not exist in a bubble. There are so many relationships to manage and email is not enough.
Your time is not your own. When I was an assistant I read everything I could get my hands on. Now, I have to be selective with my time and what material I can invest in. My time is my client’s time and I am not able to offer feedback and critiques on every query, partial or full manuscript I look at. Continue reading Life and Times of an Associate Agent Part II