I recently got two similar questions from readers, and I think there’ll well worth answering, especially this time of year. From Shannon:
I’m wondering if, in general, there is a better time of year to query agents. I’m just wondering with trips, conferences, holidays etc, if there are times in the year, from an agent point of view, that receiving queries isn’t the best thing. I am getting ready to query a new book, but I am planning to wait until after the holidays mostly for my own sanity.
And from Caryn:
I’ve nearly finished my final round of revisions on my new manuscript and will be ready to begin querying in late November. However, I’m worried about the timing. I know the holiday season is busy, and that many agencies and publishers are closed during much of December. I imagine that agents are then very busy catching up in January. I wish to begin querying soon, but I would like my book to have the best possible chance. Would it be best, therefore, to wait until agents are not as busy with the holidays and dealing with overflowing in-boxes so my own small query has a chance of getting an agent’s attention? Or should I just submit when I’m ready because a good query is a good query no matter how rushed an agent is and how many other submissions there are? Thanks!
I imagine that many of you may be pondering the very same thing. Speaking for myself, in general, I’m not sure if there’s any one time of year that’s particularly good or bad for querying — sure, every agent may have trips and conferences scheduled, but that’s a throughout the year thing, and varies widely. This time of year, I often try to find myself staying on top of queries, and cutting my response time down, because I do often close for the holidays, and I don’t want to have a huge backlog to go through when I reopen.
So is it better to send now, than in the summer, when a lot of people take vacation? Who can say? Even when I’m a couple of weeks behind on responding to queries, I still look at every one I receive, and do my best to respond to every author.
Caryn speaks truth — a good query is a good query, no matter what. If I get the best query I’ve ever seen on December 17th, or whenever I decide is the last day I’m going to be open to queries, am I going to reject it just because of the timing? No! Heck no! So long as an agent is open to queries, any time is a good one for you to send your letter off.
[This does seem like a good time to remind you, though, that I will be closing to queries not just for the holidays, as per my usual method, but also for most of the first quarter of the year for my maternity leave. So probably starting around December 18th or so, I’ll put on the automatic response to any email sent to firstname.lastname@example.org to let you know that your query, if you sent it after that day, will be deleted unread. I’ll update my submissions policy at that time as well.
Why I’m doing this again? Well, as I said — baby. Also, because I work for myself, and don’t have a back office staff to handle my clients’ needs while I take a few weeks/months off, I will have to be checking in on things even as a very new mom. I want to be sure the time I can devote to my work is given to those authors I’ve already agreed to work with, and not those who are still on the agent hunt. Is there a chance I’m going to miss out on something great while I’m closed? Sure, but that’s life.]
So, to get back to Shannon and Caryn’s questions — any time of year is fine, so long as you check each agent’s specific submission policy for possible closures. Good luck!