Blogger: Rachelle Gardner
I sat on two panels at the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop this past week, and in both sessions, writers asked whether they should be submitting to one agent at a time, or submit to multiple agents simultaneously. All the agents on the panel chuckled and we agreed: It doesn’t make sense not to do simultaneous submissions.
The panel went on to discuss how inefficient it is to query one agent or editor, then wait until they respond before sending to someone else. You could spend the rest of your life querying agents if you sent them one at a time.
The normal response time from an agent or editor can be anywhere from a couple of months to a year, and of course, sometimes there is no response. Because of the volume, there’s just no way for agents to get to things faster. So we expect that you are simultaneously submitting. If you’re not, and instead you’re submitting to one person and hoping/emailing/begging them to respond, that person may not appreciate the pressure (flattering though it is). I promise, they are getting through their stacks of submissions as fast as they can. Their lack of response to you is not about you.
When you send your materials to more than one person in the industry, be sure to mention in your letter “this is a simultaneous submission” as a courtesy.
The way I recommend doing it is to send out queries in batches. Send out five to ten queries to different agents, then wait a week or two before sending out another batch. Pay attention to any helpful feedback that comes your way, so you can revise your query if necessary. Keep a spreadsheet of queries sent, and whether/when a response was received.
Here’s something else to think about. If you are simultaneously submitting, I suggest you target either agents or editors, not both.
The reason is simple. If an agent decides they want to represent you based on your manuscript, then finds out you’ve already sent your manuscript to a list of publishers, you may have killed (or at least harmed) the agent’s chances of selling your book. If you want an agent, concentrate on that first. Then let the agent target the publishers.
Of course, if you’ve shown it to editors face-to-face at a writer’s conference, that’s different. When you’re at a conference, use every opportunity you’ve got. Talk to everyone about your work!
In any case, the main message here is: definitely submit your work to multiple (carefully chosen) industry professionals at once, and avoid putting pressure on any one person.
Not that I’m feeling pressured or anything!
What’s your query process?
Image copyright: belchonock / 123RF Stock Photo