It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And by that I mean, it’s most likely the busiest time of year, for both writers and agents alike. Everyone is determined to finish all the things before the year is over. Writers scramble to complete final goals; agents scramble to catch up on projects. For writers wanting to start querying their manuscript, the busy schedules of this time of year might make you think that December really isn’t the best month to send out query letters. But the thing is… every month is busy in publishing. Whether you’re writing or reading, you can always find a reason why a certain month isn’t the right month. So forget about the date on the calendar. Here’s an overview of when to start sending our query letters:
Your manuscript is ready. This is the most important thing on this list. Seriously. Do not start sending query letters until your manuscript is finished and you’ve edited it more times than you think is necessary. If you just finished NaNoWriMo, your manuscript probably isn’t ready for the slush pile. Take the time to make your manuscript the best it can be… and then start worrying about finding a literary agent.
You have an organization system in place. I highly recommend coming up with a way to track your query letter submissions before you start sending out query letters. Research the agents you’d like to work with and make a list. Keep track of when you send queries, and when you receive requests and rejections. Having everything put together in one place will save you many headaches later on. It doesn’t matter whether you keep track of this electronically or on paper, just make sure you’re documenting the submissions process somewhere.
The agents you want to query are accepting query letters. Unless an agent is closed to query letters, the query inbox will not be ignored. Even when agents are super busy, they are still reading through the slush pile. It’s impossible to know the best time of year to query a specific agent because everyone has their own reading schedule. That being said, sometimes agents or agencies will close to query letters periodically. It might be because their client list is full, or maybe the office is closing for the holidays, or an agent is going on a vacation and needs a break from work. Whatever the reason, sending in your query letter when an agent isn’t accepting new submissions is a waste of your time.
Submitting query letters is always a stressful activity. It’s easy to worry about things like whether or not December is the right time to submit a query letter, but eventually you’ll need to stop making excuses and actually go for it. As long as you’re following the above guidelines, no time of the year is better than others to query literary agents. If the query inbox is accepting new submissions, then your query will be read.