Yes, this is filled with whisky

Yes, this is filled with whisky

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Query Question: is August a good month to query?

I have the impression that August is a month during which the publishing industry if not shuts down, then at least ramps down.
Nonetheless, I sent out a query, just one, to my 'dream' agent. Being accepted is a long shot, but if I was to be refused, I wanted to get it out of the way.
 In the future, I'll send queries to multiple agents. After five years and many drafts, my manuscript is ready. I 'rested' it for several months, then re-read it, after which I gave it to several trusted readers. Even though it was August, I just couldn't wait any longer to get the process going.
Does August really affect response time? Should I not even start to fret until well into September?
 Also, the agent does not list a time frame by which she says she will reply. To me, a reasonable reply time is 4-6 weeks. It has only been 3 weeks, but seems like a year. Now I wonder: will she ever reply?
Maybe I should just have a stiff drink and focus on my next project.***



I'm always amused when people think publishing shuts down in August. Not anymore it doesn't, and we're all the poorer for it, I must confess.

A lot of higher-echelon decision makers take vacations in August and early September, so it's harder to get contracts signed, or deal memos ok'd but that has NOTHING to do with queries.

Frankly, agents are behind on answering queries (well, I'm not, everyone else is) all the time.

The normal wait time for a query is 30 days.  However, that means nothing to you because you will send queries out to agents starting now, and continuing until you get an offer.  You can follow up in 30 days with that first agent, but chances are unless she's committed to replying to every query, you won't hear back unless she's interested.  ( rant about "No response means no" here)

 [And don't get me started on why you should not set your hopes on a Dream Agent.  Oops...too late ]






*** that is always the correct course of action when querying

12 comments:

Lance said...

I guess if it weren't for questions from people who obviously have not read your blog, you wouldn't have this type of question to answer.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

The only bad month to send out a query is the month you are not ready.
I guarantee that the first agent you query should not be your dream agent.
Did you marry the first person you dated, did you have a child with the first person you slept with?
As grace, re-read your query out loud at Thanksgiving dinner...you will be very embarrassed that you sent that draft to you dream agent in August.
I had to delete my first comment because I screwed up. See, I told you so.

french sojourn said...

Hey, it could be worse, at least your dream agent reps your genre'.

Adib Khorram said...

The most important piece of advice in this whole post was the very last: Work on something else while querying or You. Will. Go. Insane.

Seriously, even if you ARE working on something else, you'll probably wake up with night sweats and bizarre anxiety dreams anyway. I know I do.

A few nights ago I had a dream an agent requested a full from me, then sent me back a response that she "couldn't sell it at the price point I had written it at".

I'm not even sure that's a thing!

donnaeverhart.com said...

I've always wondered the same thing! Are there months that are slower/no real work done, etc. I have to believe the holidays are one of those times. Yet I saw deals in PM throughout. There seems to be no real downtime for anyone, anymore.

Colin Smith said...

Of course, agents never rest. Agencies don't close for the Summer. Sharks go hungry if they don't troll for chum. :) The writer's challenge is to write a novel so breathtakingly sox-knock-offing, that said agent will call vacationing editors and insist they read it.

I've mentioned before that Barbara Poelle wrote an excellent response to someone about dream agents in Writer's Digest a few months ago. The story involved a teenage crush and Barbara falling off a bus. Worth the price of the mag just for the story. :)

Stephen Kozeniewski said...

I've also heard don't send anything in December because agents are slammed with post-NaNoWriMo keeeeeee-rap. Any truth to that one?

Janet Reid said...

Stephen, none. Most people who write novels during NaNoWriMo aren't stupid. They know the thing needs polish. It's sort of an urban legend that they hit send on 12/1.

Elissa M said...

"The only bad month to send out a query is the month you are not ready."

2N's Carolynn said it best.

donnaeverhart.com said...

"I guarantee that the first agent you query should not be your dream agent.
Did you marry the first person you dated, did you have a child with the first person you slept with?
As grace, re-read your query out loud at Thanksgiving dinner...you will be very embarrassed that you sent that draft to you dream agent in August."

...but, what happens if you don't query your dream agent first and all of the others you did query now want to sign you? Now that would be a dilemma as you scramble to query Ms/Mr. Dream Agent. You'd have his/her attention, that's for sure.

Angie Brooksby said...

Dream agent could also be nightmare agent from Janet says.

If they take your work but aren't passionate about it. Terrible.

There is a group of writers who write a story a week and sub it. It's called write 1 sub 1 (W1S1) run by Milo James Fowler.

Lots of work but makes for strong bones and a bit of blase for the rejection. Accept and move on quickly to the next option.

Stephanie said...

Not having been aware of this August shutdown thing, I sent out 12 queries in the month of August, and 40 total from November of '13. I got back 4 auto responses saying the agents were on vacation and would return on such a date. Three more I noticed were involved in various pitch contests and would take longer than normal. So August is a tricky month overall. Also, I'm sure I'm not alone In saying this, but on personal experience, trying Sending queries to your dream agents last. I queried my dream Agents, and all the agents I was familiar with first because they were who I knew, and unbeknownst to me, my query was unpolished, and the beginning of my manuscript wasn't as tight as it could be. It wasn't until I fixed both of those things, that I began to get requests. But by that time all of my dream agents had rejected me. It might be better to do test runs with lesser-known Agents, before everything is perfect because you will be editing and tweaking for a while.