Some Like it Hot…

You know the expression, “Strike while the iron is hot?” I’m pretty sure I’ve ranted about this before, because even typing it just now gave me a mad case of blogger’s deja vu. But what’s the deal? Why are we hitting people with irons? Are we Russian mobsters in a 1940’s detective noir?

Anyway, the dodgy semantics of that phrase isn’t the topic of this post. (At least, not this time.)

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had cause to wonder whether I chose the “right time” to query agents. Traditionally, with most industries there’s a “lull time” and a “busy season.” But I wasn’t sure if it was better to be the big fish in a small slush pile (so to speak) or to dive into the market–headfirst, and with a cry of “Geronimo!” as is my way–when the waters were deadly and churning with the frenzied excitement of literary hunting season. Either way, I figured, my MS was burning a hole in my hard drive, and I had to see if my little darling could really pull its weight out there in the world… Or, if as F. Scott Fitzgerald would say, I’d have to “murder” it and start again.

So to figure out whether I’d queried at the most opportune time, I took to the blogosphere.

Here’s what Nathan Bransford had to say:

“There is no good or bad time to query.  You might hear that the publishing closes down during the summer and around the holidays.  This is less true now than in years past, but even still, that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a “good” or “bad” time of the year to query.  Just send it when you’re ready.

Two exceptions: If you know the agent is out of the office, don’t query.  And please don’t query during the weeks around major holidays, i.e. Thanksgiving and Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Festivus.”

And Janet Reid said this:

“A lot of my colleagues are actually taking query hiatuses (they’re deleting
anything that comes in during the hiatus so they don’t stare at a Stack O’Doom come
Monday.)

But I really want to encourage you to NOT get in the habit of
thinking there is a good or bad time to query. Short of an actual hiatus with
the queries getting deleted, your query goes in the mailbox and gets read. You
have zero control over when that reading happens. The only thing you can control
is getting it in to the mailbox.”

Finally, the Book Marketing Blog said:

“As any book publishing professional will tell you, [late November] is the time when the
industry goes on hiatus. But guess what? This is one of the best times of the
year to pitch agents. Why? Because agents may slow down during the hiatus period
but they cannot help but sneak a peek at their email.”

So there you have it. Apparently, according to some of my favorite authors / literary agents / marketing people… there really isn’t a bad time. But there still IS such a thing as the RIGHT time. And unfortunately, fellow writers, it looks like it’s still up to us to decide when that time has come.

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