Monday, October 30, 2006

Still Accepting Submissions

Recently a reader emailed us to ask the following question:

I've noticed a bunch of discussions on your blog regarding submission response time. If agents are too busy working with their current clients to respond to queries, and even requested fulls, in a timely manner, then they must not need any new clients. Why not simply close your doors to submissions temporarily?

It amazes me how much mileage we are getting out of this one conversation, and while it feels like I continue to repeat myself (and Kim), it seems to bear repeating: The truth is that we are constantly reading submissions—daily. It’s just that there is no way we can read fifty partials or manuscripts a day (roughly the amount we are receiving). So for every author complaining that we are taking too long, there are hopefully just as many getting speedy responses.

We are very, very busy working with our current clients, but since we can’t control the amount of submissions we receive (it doesn’t seem worthwhile to only accept five a day and “return to sender” the rest), we sometimes fall behind. I know many of you have suggestions on how we can fix this or what we should be doing. But the truth is that we are doing the best we can to read and we are using all of our resources to catch up at all times, but as our new assistant said after only one week on the job, “I just realized that there is no point when you’re ever caught up.”

And by the way, I wouldn’t recommend emailing questions, but please do feel free to ask questions in the comments section. We will make every effort to address them in future posts.



Anonymous said...

Unrelated question for future posting: I am writing two fiction mystery novels simultaneously, and was wondering if there is any rule of thumb as to how long either should be. On the internet I have read that 60,000 is a good rule of thumb, although a few quoted publishers have indicated that you should write your story and not worry about the length. Personally, I have read novels that I have found to be too short and some that have been too long, and was wondering what your take on this is.

Anonymous said...

Here's a question: you mentioned earlier that it's not always a good thing to be published with more than one publisher...what if a client responded to an open sub call for a publisher who's starting a new line of books in that client's genre -- and what if they choose your client? (All this happens within months of taking on your client) -- does this mess up your plans for the client's books? Thanks!

elysabeth said...


It seems to me that the person who posed that question just really did not read your responses because as you have stated many times (in just the few months since I found your site) you have answered that question quite efficiently and succinctly as possible.

I just referred your site to Armchair Interviews, where I do book reviews, because I feel that the postings you put out here are wonderful and that they are beneficial for aspiring authors as well as the seasoned pros. My philosophy - you can never have too much information and the more the better off we are. So keep up the good work and keep posting and those people who keep posing the same questions over and over aren't worth your time (that is time wasted on someone's stupidity or ignorance or inability to read) - I like your blog (my blog is the same style but I've not posted much on it - but I'm there) - I even have blogged you to my blog on the offchance I get lots of hits and others are interested in going to other blogs I like or know the people who have them -

Anyway - good job and thanks for the very useful information - E :)

Bernita said...

Personally, I would like to castrate whoever suggested you should restrict submissions.
With all sympathy to the never-ending workload, I am just grateful that you do.

Anonymous said...

If I ever come to New York I plan to make round to agencies not to bug them for reprentation but to dig them out of the slush LOL That said I have a question.
I've started doing freelance editing and I have to ask, does reading a story in a not final form ever take some of the impact away for you? I love reading stories before they're published but I find if I've read through problems I'm less enthusiastic to read the final form.

Unknown said...

I dunno, John...60k seems a little on the light side to me, unless you're thinking maybe a cozy, most of the mysteries I read are at least 85-110k. I think although you should write what you need to write, you should also check out specific publishing houses whose lines you read, and check out their guidelines...

Kimber Li said...

I'm learning that each industry, including this one, has their own logic which often baffles the rest of us. Try living in 'Aviation Time Warp' for a while, for example.

Anonymous said...


The term "fiction novel" is redundant. You should describe your work as either a "mystery" or a "mystery novel."