Thursday, July 12, 2007

An Agent's Busy Season

You once mentioned that April was conference season. What are the other months that would be bad for sending a requested manuscript to an agent the writer has a relationship with? And what is the calendar like for agents submitting work to editors? Obviously, December must be the worst month, but what else?

Let me clarify that it's conference season for me, but other agents might have different schedules. Traditionally I seem to be busiest March through July. I suspect that the reason is that earlier conferences contact me earlier, and because I only do so many each year I end up saying no to a lot of fall conferences. I find, though, that most conferences are either in the spring or fall, with very few falling in July or August.

If a manuscript is requested you should send it immediately no matter what month it is. When an agent requests something she's enthusiastic about it, and while you ideally want it to be as polished as possible, waiting can diminish her enthusiasm and your chances of impressing her.

As for good times to submit (and agents tend to work this way as well), I would suggest that the only time you don't submit is between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. Because of the holidays and end-of-year crunch agents are rarely looking to pick up new projects and are instead cleaning house and preparing for the new year. Come January a lot of agents and editors are eager for a new year and new submissions. I know that writers talk all the time about summer being slow, but I have to admit, traditionally August has been one of our most successful months. Because summer is slow it gives editors (and agents) time to catch up on reading and find those gems they've been looking for.

Don't try to guess about the ideal time to submit. Just send it.

—Jessica

5 comments:

Reid said...

Thanks for the advice, as always. Reading your blog makes me feel like I have a friend in the business, which is very comforting. At this point, I'd probably pick you up at the airport, although I'd probably need to get to know you better before I agreed to help you move.

Thanks!

still enthusiastic said...

I fall all over myself to get requested material out within no more than a day of it being requested. Minutes if I'm sending it by email! So I'm not questioning the advice to send immediately.

But then it takes months to get read. If waiting can diminish her enthusiasm and your chances of impressing her, what happens to the agent's enthusiasm when her assistant places the requested material at the bottom of the agent's 'to be read' pile and the agent doesn't see it again for 3, 4 or even 6 months (or, for an editor, 8 months) or more? Does that enthusiasm wane?

Do you find you reject a higher number of manuscripts after they've been waiting on your desk for weeks or months? Or are you still able to muster the same enthusiasm for those mss read later rather than sooner?

Hope you're having a great time at Nationals!

Anonymous said...

Despite hearing that the holidays were a bad time to query, I approached agents between November and New Year's because my book was finished. I expected delays but surprisingly, I had very speedy responses, including requests for material.

In fact, Jackie requested my full ms about two days before Christmas. : )

I know too many writers who look for excuses not to query. I think the important thing is to get out there because, as you said, you can't predict an agent's schedule.

Anonymous said...

Do you get more behind than usual during the summer months? Or should an author just assume you're probably not interested if they haven't heard anything back in say six months? That is assuming that they have inquired as to whether or not the material was received, of course.

R.M.T. said...

I was dealing with an agent who loved my partial, requested the full, and then called to talk about the book. She ultimately rejected it, but had some interesting suggestions on what could be done with it, and said she'd be interested in seeing the revisions. I ultimately did them and resubmitted, again she called to say she really enjoyed the changes and wanted to have a second look and would get back in touch with me in a few weeks. When a month went by with no response, I sent her a friendly email in which she responded that she would definitely call the next week. When three weeks went by, I sent another email and she replied that she was just too busy and that I could check again in 2 months. Is this the brushoff it seems to be? Should I have just waited it out for a response instead of sending an email after time passed?