I know that both Nathan Bransford and I have mentioned that 2009 must be the Year of the Query. It’s unbelievable how many more queries we’re both seeing this year, and I can’t imagine we’re alone in the situation. I hadn’t thought too much about it, figuring it’s just the beginning of the year influx, until I started talking to an editor over lunch. I’m not even sure how it even came up, but this editor casually mentioned that she is, for some reason, receiving more submissions than ever before. She has actually had to alter her schedule to get up earlier in the morning just to stay on top of the piles.
And that’s when it hit me, really hit me, it’s the economy, stupid. Sure, I think there are a number of unpublished authors who are hoping that a quick advance check [hear me snorting with laughter here] might help tide them over until the stimulus package kicks in [fingers crossed], but I think the real scary truth is that a lot of these submissions are coming from published authors who have found themselves dumped by their publishers in an economic house-cleaning. What does that mean? That means that publishers are looking more carefully at the sales numbers of their authors and trying to determine how financially viable they still are. Some publishers are trimming lists (which means publishing fewer of one kind of book each month), while others are just cutting authors (which means not buying more books from them).
From the editor's perspective, she’s seeing a lot of submissions from authors (through agents) who are looking for a new house for their new ideas. From my perspective, I’m seeing submissions from published authors seeking new representation, unpublished authors seeking first-time representation, and everyone in between. How does that bode for all of you? Other than slowing response times it really shouldn’t matter. You are competing against all of these people anyway. If you’re not competing for an agent, you’re competing for an editor; if not an editor, a reader. So please be patient with all of the bogged-down agents and editors out there and continue to submit your best work, because despite the news above, houses are still buying, agents are still offering representation, and great books are still in demand.