Publishing is Slow in the Summer

And other lies we tell ourselves

Last Thursday’s subscriber newsletter was about How To Quit Your Job and Write Full Time and if you want to read it, you can subscribe right here! Yes, it is a little ironic that this post is behind a paywall. I, too, want to get paid for my writing. I preach what I practice, a wise person told me another wise person told him.

Hi Friends,

I am coming off the busiest period of my entire career. Not to brag (but totally to brag) I’ve done as many deals in the last six weeks as I did in the last six months. It’s been A LOT and exciting and exhausting and amazing. You might also notice, if you look at a calendar or out your window in the Northern hemisphere, it’s summer, and summer is supposed to be slow in publishing. Right? That’s what we’ve always said. Heck, it’s so slow they let us out early for Summer Fridays. But at lunch, all the editors I talk to say I thought summer was supposed to be slow!!!!!!!!

So, is publishing actually slower in the summer and does that mean you shouldn’t send your book out then?

Here’s how summer is slower: people go on vacation. Shocking, I know! How dare they leave their desks for longer than it takes to get a salad and a diet coke! But, like all workers should, editors, their bosses, the sales team, marketing, publicity, even agents take vacations and thus might not be around when you need an answer. Agents may be slower to answer queries. Editors might miss their weekly editorial board meeting, so your project doesn’t get discussed for a while. A boss might be away and thus cannot approve a budget or an offer. In that way, publishing is slower in the summer. Everyone takes vacations at different times, obviously, so there’s no way to plan around this, whether you’re querying a new project or planning with your agent to send out your work to editors. People also take vacations at the holidays and around spring break/Easter, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ there’s no time of year where everyone is working at full speed. These pesky humans and their need to “rest” and “relax” and “read for fun.”

But also, there are lots of people still at work. My busy period can prove that. I had three meetings last week where editors were hungry for book for their Fall 2020 list, and those books would need to be sold NOW (and written NOW) to make that deadline. Waiting until after Labor Day would just make everyone’s schedule needlessly tighter. Agents might be sending fewer books out now and thus have a little more time to read queries. For every out of office reply you get, there are three editors preparing offers, and three more cramming in one more edit before they go on vacation the next week.

This is all to say: there is no ideal time of year to query an agent or send out a book. For queriers, I suggest send when you’re ready. Most agents read queries in the order they are received, so if you wait, there’s just going to be 10 or 20 or 50 ahead of you. Lots of people send queries on New Years and after Labor Day, so if you don’t want to get caught in a deluge, you could avoid those two weeks. Agents aren’t reading much the week of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Labor Day, so you could avoid those if you wanted, but you’re in the queue when you’re in the queue. There are roughly 48 other weeks of the year that are fine for querying. Query when you’re ready.

If you’re writing and editing and finishing a project for your agent, hoping to send it out, being done in late July is probably not lead right to a submission. I don’t send much out in August, but your agent might and that’s ok. September is a big submission month for agents (because August is not and everyone has that back to school feeling) so sending your first draft on September 5th might mean your agent isn’t going to get back to you for a bit. But they will tell you. That’s what they’re there for.

If an agent is open to queries and they seem right for your work, send them a query. Try not to over think it when it comes to the BEST or the RIGHT time. I almost never notice when a query was sent to me. I just notice when it’s good.

I hope there’s some rest and relaxation and some reading for fun in the next few weeks for you. I just finished RED, WHITE, AND ROYAL BLUE by Casey McQuiston AND IT WAS THE SWOONIEST, FUNNIEST, SEXIEST ROMANCE I’VE READ IN A GOOD LONG WHILE. You should read it. It goes great with sunscreen and sand in your toes.