By Wendy Lawton
Ever since I became an agent, I’ve been trying to figure out the rhythm of this industry— the perfect time to submit proposals. Every industry has “seasons” and because we agents are always trying to second-guess things, we are ever vigilant in gathering observations.
Two weeks ago, I sent out a proposal to four editors and immediately received four out-of-office replies. It made me think again about the perfect time to send proposals.
One of the first things I noticed in this business was that editors seem to have two New Year’s days—the first day back to work after the New Year and the first day back to work after Labor Day. Both of these days seem to be filled with hope and promise. If I’m shopping a project, my perfect time to have it land on an editor’s desk is one of those two times. But recently, as many schools no longer wait for September to start, our Autumn perfect time occurs earlier and earlier, more like mid-August.
We used to say the month of December was dead and we avoided sending new projects, fearing they’d be lost in the jumble of parties and family responsibilities. (Especially since we know that most editors read proposals and manuscripts in the off-time, not in their office time.) Recently we’ve been surprised at how much last minute buying goes on. How many requests we get for projects. In the last couple of years, December has been vigorous. Who knew?
Mid-July through the first couple weeks of August is dead. Too many in publishing plan their vacations for after BEA or the used-to-be ICRS. Very few publishers are even able to gather the team together to hold regular pub committee meetings (where book decisions are made).
We’ve also observed a drop-off in June, around graduations and the beginning of kids’ school vacations.
Fall is a vigorous time even though many editors travel to conferences.
But as with any observations, we are ever learning. The good thing is that the editors with whom we work are always attentive to our submissions even if we hit them at a tough time. We eventually get a response. It’s just that we are always trying to get to the yes. We are always trying to figure out the perfect time —the happiest moment— to have a project land on their desk.
It’s an inexact science at best. 🙂
So what have you observed about the rhythm of this industry? Have you noticed a time when emails and Facebook posts slow down? When it takes longer than ever to hear back? Do you try to psych us out when you send queries? I’d love to collect your observations.