By Dawn Frederick
I feel this discussion needs to brought to the surface again, due to being a regular search term (in the query process) and one that consistently arises after finding an agent.
1. Before finding an agent
Yes, this takes time. There is no defined time in which one will find an agent. Some folks will have very commercial, new, & fresh ideas. Thereby acquiring agents quicker than those who may write in a more popular book category. i.e. Where lots of similar themes/plots/stories may exist, and it literally comes down to one’s ability to write, as well as the unique slant of the story.
If a writer follows the submission guidelines of an agency/agent, it’s reasonable to wait 4-6 weeks for a response. Sometimes responses may arrive faster; especially if the agent has been seeking a book similar to the query or actually has time to catch up on emails (a rarity nowadays). If submission guidelines aren’t followed, and there’s no response, it’s always a good idea to double check if the agency/agent is even a good fit for your book. Some agents will not respond to queries that fall outside their categories.
If additional materials are requested, another 4-6 weeks needs to be budgeted for waiting (yes it’s hard). I am usually on top of this, with the exception of this past summer where personal life events required 100% of my attention. This is the same with other agents too, there’s the challenge of juggling real life with our agent duties. Just like everyone else who works. So a bit of patience is always apprecated, as we’d treat you the same way. 🙂
2. After finding the agent, the book is out to publishers
Yes, more time, more waiting. If there’s one thing your agent will bring to the table, it’s the ability to give editors the necessary wiggle room to do their jobs. Editors have the same challenges as agents, working on current projects, while making time to consider new ideas. It’s a constant work/real life balancing act; to which the busier months of the year can affect response times.
Additional barriers will also happen outside of their realms of control, ex: a hurricane, snow storms with 4 feet of snow, etc. Instead of getting antsy, agents will try their best to give the necessary room for editors to deal with those things (be it personal or a greater regional issue); as we would like to be treated the same way too.
In the meantime, what can YOU do with all of this waiting? Take all of that antsiness and field it in a different direction. How about starting a new book? Or joining a rec team? Or focusing on your author platform? As Milo in THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH found, one can truly never be bored, bored, bored, bored – or in my eyes, stressed, stressed, stressed. It just means that all the restless energy needs to be used up, and that one doesn’t need to go far to see how to use that time wisely for a good writing career.
What has your experience been as a writer? How have you handled the “waiting?”