Q: How do you pronounce your name?
Q: How can I query you?
A: Please use my query form. I only accept queries through this query form. Please do not email me your submission.
Q: What is the typical response time from agents at your agency? If I even get a response.
A: I can’t speak for every agent, but for me, it ranges. My response time can be within minutes of you querying to 6 months if I’ve requested a full. I know that 6 months is a LONG time; however, I respond to every query sent to me through Query Manager. And if it’s been over 3 months, you can reach out. I’m good with this.
Q: When’s the best time to query; beginning of the year, end of the year, summer, winter, beginning of the week?
A: There is no perfect time of the year to query. There is no perfect day of the week. There is no perfect time of the day to send your query, either. If an agent is open, and you think they are a perfect fit, go for it!
Q: Are agents still suffering pandemic lag or should current response times be understood as the new normal?
A: So, I wouldn’t quite call what agents are going through as a “pandemic lag.” I think we’re all going through the pandemic together, but it looks different for everyone. What I can tell you that because of the pandemic, more people are writing and finishing books, and therefore, our query boxes or email inboxes have more queries. This is awesome, but it means there is more to read, and we need more time to read through it.
Q: Is a fantasy book submission with a word count of about 240,000 impossible to accept?
A: Ummm, what the what!?! First, congrats on writing that many words! And on completing your novel(s)! But if you’re asking if that’s impossible to accept…? Well, for me, yes. That’s waaaaaay toooooo long!!! And here’s the thing, on the craft side, 99.9% of the time, you can still tell your story for less words than 240k. On the business side, with paper shortages and printing demands, your book would be costly to print. Too costly. And you may not want to think about the business side of things because your book is art, right? Well, but this is publishing, a mix between art and commerce, and you NEED to think about those things. So again, I can only speak for myself here, but something with that large of a word count isn’t for me.
Q: What are you tired of seeing in a query letter? Something you see regularly that you wish you didn't?
A1: Uh, I’m not really into people waking up by an alarm and getting ready for school or work as an opening for a book. I do that every day and it’s not a very interesting part of my day. I mean, unless someone tries to talk to me before I’ve had my first cup of coffee. If that happens, I turn into a raging beast. So, unless that’s the opening to your book, a raging beast, stomping around, foaming at the mouth because they haven’t had coffee, or something equally different (and scary and wild), I really don’t want to read another wake-up scene at the top of a novel. Just saying.
A2: I am allergic to talking animals in novels. In picture books, that’s fine, even though I will admit that I prioritize human characters in PBs. But in novels, I am absolutely, almost 100% allergic. Nothing takes me all the way out of a story like a talking turtle, or platypus. Seal? That too. How about a talking sealion? Or a lion? Heck, to the yes. Those too! I will never say it’s a hard pass for me because there is always an exception to every rule, but for the most part, talking animals in middle grade, young adult, and adult books are NOT for me.
Q: When agents ask for the full, do they typically read the whole thing before making a choice noting what they would want to change giving the whole thing a chance or will they just stop part of the way through and reject? I’ve always wondered how much of a chance they give each MS.
A: I can’t speak for every agent, but I read until I stop. Sometimes that means I get all the way to the end and wish there was more, but a lot of times, it means I read until I stopped somewhere where I thought, “Hmmmm, this isn’t quite ready yet.” There could many reasons why I say this, and so I won’t bore you to death with a long essay on the many craft elements that can make the middle of a novel murky.
And when you say, “how much of a chance [we] give each [manuscript],” I’m not sure how to answer it. If we read a sample and request a full, we’ve already given the query a real chance. And if we continue to read, no matter how far we’ve gotten into the manuscript, we’ve again given the work a real chance. Even if we are editorial agents, we still aren’t developmental editors, critique partners, or editors. We are agents. If a work isn’t ready at page 50, 300, or anywhere in between, it isn’t up to us to fully get it there. We aren’t miracle workers. And we simply can’t read everything to the very end if there are fundamental plot or character revisions that need to be made.
Q: How many clients is too much for an agent to have?
A: Hmmm, this is a hard question. There are so many variables. Like, does that agent work full-time or do they have another (or more) jobs? What type of books do they represent? Do they rep only novels? Or do they rep illustrators? Maybe non-fiction, too (think selling books on proposal)? Are all of their clients active?
My point is that there isn’t a magical number. The question you need to ask is if the offering agent has time for the type of agent you need/want.
Q: Do agents look at what you post on social media to determine whether they wish to work with you?
A: Yes. Don’t you look at what we post and ask around about us to see if we’re someone you’d like to work with? For sure, we first read your writing or look at your portfolio, and if we’re interested, we’re going to do some digging. I think researching the person you could potentially work with is healthy. Most of us, both creators and agents, are looking to work with someone long-term. Why would we not check them out?
Q: About burnout and the pandemic, how do we pursue our publishing goals without causing harm?
A: Account for longer querying and submission times. When things take longer than normal, nudge, but be nice about because I promise you, every editor and agent is reading in the evenings or during their weekend. We’re trying our very best to give every manuscript or portfolio a chance.