Monday, January 22, 2018

When Is the Best Time to Query?

Hi, everyone! This week, my blog is being taken over by my intern, the wonderful Rosiee, with a special guest she is!!

When is the best time to query?

A question every querying writer asks. Some people say not to query during the holidays, and some say publishing is basically dead in August, so don’t even bother during the summer. And still more say to query only during Summer or the holidays because that’s when agents get the least amount of queries because of the former advice.

It all depends on what you want out of querying. Do you want your query given full consideration? Or are you looking for a quick response?

But really, when is the best time to query?

I dove into Carrie’s submission records to find out.

This data will vary from agent to agent, I’d imagine, but here are some stats from Carrie’s inbox:

In 2017, Carrie received a total of 2,202 cold queries, not including queries/materials sent from contests or conferences.
The monthly average was 184
The daily average was 6
She received the highest number of queries in October.
She received the lowest number of queries in December

What does this data tell us? Not much, to be honest.

The difference between the highest volume month and the lowest volume month was 73 queries. While that comes out to a couple of hours work for me (or one of Carrie’s other super cool interns), it really doesn’t make that much of a difference in how busy Carrie is. On that particular note, there’s not any specific time of year that Carrie is likely to be faster at responding to queries than any other based solely on query volume.

For Carrie, her response time is much more dependant on other variables--for example, how many manuscripts has she already requested recently? How behind is she on requested material or work for her clients? Is she sending out new client projects to go on sub? Is she negotiating a contract? Did she recently participate in and request and boatload of contest submissions?

These could all slow down her response time--because she’s busy, but also because she’s a kind and generous boss who doesn’t want to overload me, Bea, and Tarie with too much all at once.

The reality is, there’s no best time to query for all authors and all agents. There’s only the best time for you to query, and that’s when your book is finished and ready. It doesn’t matter if we get your query in Spring or Fall. If it’s good, and if Carrie likes it, she’ll request. She may not request it right away, but it’s almost always better for her to read submissions when she doesn’t have to rush. And it’s definitely better for her to read submissions when they are polished and ready.

There is no magic time of year for querying.

And if you’re really just looking for a quick response… maybe pick a different career path. Publishing is slow. Really really slow.