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?