Along with my other holiday traditions, which include copious amounts of Christmas lights and drinking eggnog like the world supply may be in peril, it’s not really December unless aspiring authors are asking if they should send out their query letter over the holidays. Is there a best time to query? Is there a time not to query?
Let’s put this one to bed (as visions of sugar-plums dance in its head).
Is there a best time to query?
There is no good or bad time to query. You might hear that the publishing closes down during the summer and around the holidays. This is less true now than in years past, but even still, that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a “good” or “bad” time of the year to query. Just send it when you’re ready.
- If you know the agent is out of the office, don’t query.
- I’d avoid the weeks around major holidays, i.e. Thanksgiving and Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Festivus.
There are a couple of reasons for this. First, people tend to have time off around the holidays and hey, what better excuse for avoiding your relatives than sending out queries! This means that agents are not only racing to get everything done before and after the holidays, they receive a whole lot of queries over Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Why you should avoid the time around holidays
You don’t want to be part of a massive query pile when an agent is feeling a time crunch.
Ideally, sure, agents would give all queries equal time, consider every one similarly, whether they’re reading a pile of 10 or a pile of 500. Ideally.
Reality: human nature is human nature. When faced with a mountain that feels like it won’t move, you start moving a little quicker, take fewer chances, etc. etc. When I was an agent I really aspired to keep a constant pace regardless of my workload, but it’s hard not to adjust how many partials you’re requesting based on how much work awaits.
Just don’t do it. Avoid the weeks around major holidays. It’s better to be part of a trickle than a flood. Unless you are eggnog, in which case bring on the deluge.
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Art: The Payment of the Tithes by Pieter Brueghel the Younger (or workshop)
True story: I emailed a query to a Manhattan-based children's fiction agent two days ago (the day before Thanksgiving). Her initials are A.O. if you care.
She replied ON Thanksgiving to email the story to her.
So go figure. If fewer people are querying around the holidays, that would seem like an ideal time to query, no?
So Mr. Bransford when will you be back and open to queries? Should I wait till the middle of January?
Ron W says
is it a bad idea to query again?
Lets say your original query is starting to sound too routine and a little flat so you decide to revamp the whole thing, would it be wrong to send out a new version of the same story to previous agents?
Thanks for the advice, I will keep it in mind when I get that far. Have a great Holiday, which ever it is.