This is a quiet time in the publishing world. In fact, if you are querying agents, you shouldn’t be. Worse, you shouldn’t have been querying since, at the latest, the first week in November. So when is it okay to start again?
We used to say right around January second, but given the enormous quantities of slush that make their way to the desks of agents these days, it’s probably better to wait until the middle of the month. So you’re not written off as one of those who dug an old novel out of the trunk and made your New Year resolution to find a publisher for it.
There’s worse to come.
Don’t vomit when you read this, but it really isn’t uncommon for an agent to come into the office sometime during the height of the December holiday madness, look at the mountain of mss and queries, decide that on the basis of past experience it’s likely to all be unpublishable crap, and sweep the lot into a very large box marked trash. She’ll even rejoice when she comes in next day and sees it’s all gone.
Meanwhile, you are still waiting for that phonecall or e-mail that says, “I’d like to read more of the book. Please send me …”
And waiting. And waiting. And waiting.
We know of writers who after a year continued to believe they might hear from the agent. They will not. And this applies to requested ms pages as well as original queries.
Give it up. Go on to the next agent. But not until the new year is well and truly underway, and the holiday scramble is forgotten. And most important, at the same time, go on to the next book. If you are not getting enthusiasm for what you’re sending out now, you probably haven’t made the cut. At least not this time.
That’s true despite what I said above about piles of slush being tossed into the circular file. Here’s why: Your original query is very likely to have been read. Every envelope is opened by 99% of agents with a lifting heart full of hope. As in, “Please God, let this be something I can sell. Maybe something marvelous…” If she knows right away that it is not (as in she wasn’t grabbed by the first few paragraphs of your letter, and her run-the-eye-down-the-page look at the rest of the stuff you sent) you will get one of those immediate pre-printed not for me things. Not taking on new clients. No unsolicited mss. Not correct for this agency. Yada, yada, yada. And lie, lie, lie.
If, on the other hand, she has a glimmer of an idea that maybe you have something, she’ll put the letter and the one page synopsis, and those first few pages of the book (you do know that’s what you should send…) to one side promising herself she’ll take another look as soon as she can. That’s the slush pile I’m referring to above. The one that’s tossed as soon as she finds it’s simply taking up too much room and she needs a place to put the rocking horse she’s bought for her nephew.
But there’s a new day coming. For you as you hunt for an agent, and for her as she hunts for the next number one best seller that stays on the lists for 40 weeks and gets a movie deal, and, and, and…
May you find each other in 2007.