Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Best Time of Year To Query

Legal Disclaimer: The opinions contained in this post are not to be misconstrued as expert advice. The thoughts and ideas expressed herein are limited to personal experience and as such should be interpreted with careful consideration. However, any disagreement shall be discussed in the comments section,  and thereafter binding arbitration.

Okay, now that we have the fine print taken care of, let's talk about queries, baby. Let talk about you and me. Let's talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be...Let's talk about QUERIES. (Please re-read the last several lines to the tune "Let's Talk About Sex" by Salt N Pepa).

I am just going to get this out there: I STALKED AGENTS. I'm not ashamed (well, a little), because I knew the agents I wanted. I knew when they were too busy to query. I knew which conferences they were attending. I knew what they were selling. I knew what they were looking for. I knew if they liked red wine or orange soda! I'm not kidding. I knew these things because I read about them. Through interviews, through their blogs, through their author's blogs, etc. I knew that my agent, Sarah Davies, was one of the top ranked agents in YA sales in 2012. I knew that she was an editor for crime novels for a long time and therefore would provide invaluable advice for my crime-ish thriller. I knew that her name starts with Sarah D... and she is from England, which I thought was a great coincidence because my best friend's name also starts with Sarah D... (for Donovan) and is also from England. True story!

With all that being said, what's the best time of year to start querying?
Let's discuss. I queried Sarah in the month of May. I'm not sure if that is the best time of year to query, but it seemed to work for me. It was before the summer months where a lot of agents take time off for summer breaks and vacations. I've also read that some agents don't like to stay indoors reading submissions all summer day when it is so warm and beautiful outside. This is obviously going to vary from agent to agent.

I do know, however, that my agent was affirmatively looking for new Talent in the month of September, as evidenced by this post of hers: Pounding of the Hooves. She talks about the freshness in the air, people going back to school and getting down to business. I would say the same thing holds true for November as well. Most everyone is so busy with their new, shiny NaNoWriMo project that they have no time for querying and therefore agents might have a slightly less gargantuan slush pile.

Others months that may be sketchy: August because of family vacations and heat waves. December because of all the unpolished NaNoWriMo submissions and also because the holidays.  January because 1) everyone (and their mother) are waiting for those agents to get back from said holiday breaks to query, 2) because a lot of those agents will be going out on submission with their clients during this month, and 3) because of a couple big conferences which a lot of agents attend. Therefore, in February, the agents may have more time to catch up on their slush piles.

But, I could be 100% totally wrong on all of this. As stated in the disclaimer, I am only speaking from my own personal experience. Your best bet is to research your favorite agents individually and find out what they are doing and when.

Let's open this up. What month do you think is good or bad for queries? What has worked for you and why?


  1. I'm right there with you. February-March seem like good months.

    Btw, I used to sing the same song about lunch. Let's talk about lunch, baby.... It was torture to the kids!

  2. Oh geez... I never even thought about this. haha. You're so much more organized than me!

    And... I definitely was singing the first part to that song about three words in. I'm with ya babe ;)

  3. I've heard the end of the year is bad becasue a lot of agents/publishers have met quotas. Then again, if it's the right story, I don't think the time of years matters. But I'm planning on starting to query again in May just becasue of Story makers, until then, I'm going to writing like crazy!

  4. That's actually a very comforting thought. I'm hoping to get my MG done by Feb, so many I can query it at the end of the month (after a reread or seven first). I shall experiment with your hypothesis. :)

  5. Hey, I'm a big believer that there's a season for everything, even querying. Plus, agents have lives too. So please don't query them on Christmas!

  6. Good to know when to ”stalk” agents! Now, I cant get the rap song outta my head...shame on you :-D

  7. You make it sound like a minefield! You've been busy. Of course, many will only take submissions at certain times which makes it easier... but the main thing is to have a kickass query which will make them drop everything! That's the hardest bit.

  8. I thought the same! Hoping to query in Feb too, whilst starting a new novel. Fingers crossed.

  9. I agree that January, August and December are probably not the best months to query. So glad you got one of your top agents.

  10. We must karaoke the query version of this song. ;)

  11. Didn't even need a hint at the song, I was singing it in my head before you told me to!

    I'm planning on querying end of February because of the same reasons you listed. Now, to revise and write the bleepin' query.

  12. Awesome advice and you are the scariest stalker I've ever seen :)

  13. I think that if your query rocks-- REALLY rocks-- you can query any time you want, and you'd be golden. :) Having said that, though-- I would never query in December, for exactly the reasons you said. In fact, I agree with everything you said. I queried in September. It seemed like a great time to query!

  14. First, I love your bio.

    Second, great post.

    Third, I would say December is definitely the worst month. Most agencies are closed for the second-half of the month anyway, and they're trying to get their year-end details finished. Holidays always distract people, too. I started querying a novel in December once and it took a lot long to hear back from agents, and one or two queries even got lost (perhaps because their systems were closed?).

    I think I've had the most luck querying in late spring/early summer... but I'm not sure. I just query when the book is done!

  15. You're so brilliant Jessie! Gotta love you girl! And I'm really digging the advice! :D

  16. love the disclaimer, lawyer lady!

    feb has good points! i'd say spring...but i got my bite in october, so fall is good too (after summer vacays)

    great post! have a lovely weekend!

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