We’re approaching the middle of November, which means festivities, decorations, and awful holiday music is upon us. If you have gotten to the point that you are ready to query your manuscript, first: congratulations! That’s a huge accomplishment. Second: here is some friendly food for thought to chew on while querying literary agents during the end of the year.
The end of the year is a rough time for most businesses. This is when they typically rush to complete any open projects and try to get all the data they’ve collected over the year collected and processed so that they can produce annual reports. These reports help with investors and, yes, taxes. Literary Agents are part of the book business—and yes, it is a business— so they have their own end of the year duties to take care of.
What does this mean for you as an author? It means that November through December might not be the best time to send out that query letter. Not only are agents trying to get their end of the year reports and paperwork completed, but they are people, too, and will likely take time to spend with their families over the holiday season just like everyone else. This means that queries they get will likely be put on the back burner, and you risk it getting lost in an ever-growing pile of submissions.
On top of that, agents will see a spike of submissions after NaNoWriMo which makes that slush pile even bigger. If you took a lot of time on your manuscript, you don’t want it getting mixed in with all that and pushed to the side.
Note: unless you are very talented, well-practiced, and have a system in place for writing, editing, and revising a book in a month, it is probably better for you not to submit your NaNoWriMo project at the end of November. Your NaNo project might be excellent, but it still needs at least one editing and revision pass.
So, as a friendly suggestion, it might be wise to take a submission break for the holiday season and get back to it after the New Year.
To iterate, this is only a suggestion. Unless the agent specifically states that they are closed to submissions, you can submit year-round. It’s always best to research the agent first and follow their submission guidelines, but since this is such a subjective business it might be better to play on the safe side and give agents (and yourself) an end of the year break.
Of course, there are always exceptions. If you recently met with an agent at a conference or other platform, gave your pitch, and they requested a submission—then for golly sakes SEND THE SUBMISSION. If they ask for it, deliver regardless what time of year it is. They asked for it, so that means that they want it.
The suggestion to wait for the New Year mainly applies to cold queries where you haven’t personally spoken or interacted with the agent yet. As always, it is at your discretion. At the end of the day, you need to do what is right by you, your manuscript, and your project. Research your agents before submitting, and then make the choice if you want to wait or keep on querying. There are pros and cons to either, which is why this is just food for thought to consider when making your decision.
Good luck on all your querying!