Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Querying: Is there a right or wrong time?

I'm a master at making plans.

Calendars, goals, objectives, step-by-step plans: I love these tools for controlling the universe.

I am an engineer, after all.

But I also understand the randomness that there is in the industry (especially in the query process), and I'm clinging to my Zen attitude while my step-by-step plans get stepped on and my calendars become hen-scratched with delayed goals.


I had planned to finish most of my querying before the holiday season (Thanksgiving-to-New Years) was upon us, but I can now see that is unlikely to happen. I've heard that querying in the holiday time is not a good idea, simply because agents are frenetically busy just like everyone else, and may be less inclined to request pages.

What say you? Should I suspend my querying during that time?

p.s. I just sent off another round, figuring the holiday season hasn't started yet. But the vast Christmas tree display at the Walgreens argues otherwise.


  1. Susan, that very question was asked at the writer's conference I went to just last month. On the panel were two three well known and respected agents and an acquiring editor for Tor Publishing. They all said that the holidays are their slow time, because most writers slow way down or stop writing, and that is the BEST time to submit a query. Good luck, whatever you decide!

  2. Hi, Susan! Wow, I think, by the sounds of Jonene's reply, it sounds like a fantastic time to query. Good luck and keep us posted! <3

  3. The other thing about querying is that what agents are looking for is what editors are looking for, so that'll change from month to month. It helps to spread out queries over a period of time, because you may get a ton of rejections during a time when no editor is looking for your kind of project, only to get a handful of offers once an editor broadcasts a desire for the kind of thing you've written.

  4. @Jonene See? I think there are as many opinions about this as there are with anything else in this industry! And I can totally see the logic of trending opposite to what "everyone else" is doing! Thanks for sharing. :)

    @Elizabeth I'm plugging away at it, and have a few full MS's out, but it's a darn-long process. If I get any good news, though, you can be sure I'll be givin' a pirate yell!

    @Emily You are so right about the randomness of timing as well. Maybe they're looking now, but not later? Maybe if I wait through one more revision, I'll have missed my "window?" *sigh* This is when I retreat into my Zen hole and just keeping plugging along. I have another theory about trends like that, though, that I think I'll write about in a separate post. Thanks for the tips!

  5. Eh, I wouldn't worry about missing your window. A better book is always more likely to sell. It's unusual for windows to be that short, and once a window opens, it often opens at multiple houses, so there are several opportunities to sell the same sort of book.

  6. I'm struggling with this myself as I put finishing touches on query packages today. Big question number one - how many to send? Five? Ten? Twenty?

    What do you think, Sue? I've heard so many different things. At a conference back in January an agent told us that it is best to send out no more than four at one time, but then I know other writers who sent out ten or twenty and thus had the luxury of choosing between different offers.

  7. @Emily I think you're exactly right about the "better book always being better." At least, that's what I tell myself! :)

    @Rebecca I've heard a range of numbers too. I think it depends on what kind of approach you're taking to the querying (mine go out in batches of 12).

  8. Twelve is truly a cosmic number. I've picked out fourteen. Might as well let fly them all.

    Oh I am so excited! It has been far too long since I sent out queries. Look out New York! Here it comes!

  9. Four is way low! Especially given how many agents don't even respond to queries these days. FWIW, I try to get up to fifteen out over the course of a few weeks, then try to keep a dozen unresponded to queries out at a time, so when a rejection comes back, I send out another query.

  10. @Rebecca Fourteen sounds awesome! Let us know how it goes! :)

    @Emily IKR? I like the idea of keeping a certain amount of unresponded queries out at a time - that makes a lot of sense to me! Thanks for sharing!

  11. Emily, that's a good idea. I was trying to keep three unresponded queries out... and then my husband got a new job in Hawaii.

    So now I'm making up for lost time.

    With this batch, rather than keeping a rotation going, I'll wait a reasonable amount of time (long enough to draft another book), then do another revision before I ship out the next batch.


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