Day #13 – When is the Best Time to Query?

By Dawn Frederick

This is a frequent search term, of which this question can be answered in several ways.

1. The obvious answer is when the book idea is at its best. For a novel, the manuscript needs to be in tiptop shape and ready to go. For a nonfiction idea, all aspects of the book (and the book proposal) should be be fleshed out accordingly. In short, the novel or the proposal will be in the final stage vs. a work in progress.

2. During less busy times for agents. This is quickly becoming a grey area in our publishing lives. In the “old” days, we’d be able to catch up on work (and even life) during the summer months. That was before the internet became such an important part of our jobs.

Long breaks seem to be a rarity, so it comes down to simply making the time to focus on the queries received. Sometimes this happens at night (sadly), sometimes it’s on the weekends (no joke), and even the occasional holidays. (I know I’m not alone here) Overall, less busy times are slightly difficult to define in today’s present climate. It’s probably a better use of one’s time to just send out queries and be patient if it takes a tad bit longer than normal.

3. When an agent is open to submissions. Yes, some folks will be closed to submissions. Make sure to check an agent’s website before sending out a query, thereby avoiding any window(s) of time where the agency isn’t accepting submissions. There’s nothing wrong with returning back to the agent’s website at a later date, to see if submissions are being accepted again.

The most important thing to remember is that your energy is best spent writing the best query letter, as well as the best book, possible.