Mar 04

Submitting to Publishers and Agents – Is There a Best Time?

Is there a right time?

Lately, I’ve had a number of clients who are going the traditional publishing route. Some are querying directly to book publishers and a couple are querying literary agents.

As I’ve helped a number of clients with their query letters. They can’t wait to submit the query as soon as their book is complete.

But . . .

I read an interesting article at Literary Agent Undercover and it discussed the best time to focus on submissions to literary agents.

It seems rather than submitting during a holiday season or during summer vacations, you should wait.

In fact, most publishers and agents close down for the summer (July and August) – they don’t accept queries.

During holidays most agents and publishers are busy with family and holiday things. They’re distracted. And, even if they may get your query and look it over and possibly be interested, you won’t have their full attention.

So, what should you do?

Best Bet . . .

Avoid the major holidays.

It may be tempting, with your manuscript ready to go, to shoot off queries to every publisher and agent who works within your niche. But, be patient. Wait until after the holiday.

With that said, another source at Writers Digest forum suggests not giving the time of year a second thought, except for possibly December.

Nothing ever seems to close down completely anymore.

The low men/women on the totem pole still man the helm for businesses during slow times. And, if it’s a smaller company, it’s likely the owner or other higher-up wouldn’t want something to slip by. They wouldn’t want to miss a possible best-selling book.

And, in most of these companies your query will go in a slush pile in the order received. This is whether it’s mail during a holiday, on a Sunday, or whenever. That query will have its place and will have to wait to be read until the ones received before it have been read (or at least glanced at).

Mary Kole of weighs in on this topic and notes that November is Nano month. That means lots and lots of manuscripts are heading off to publishers and agents the beginning of December.

Kole also notes, “Publishing mostly slumbers from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, so a lot of agents are using this time to catch up with work, read manuscripts and get all of our affairs for the upcoming year in order.” (1)

What about a particular day or time?

As for the day or time-of-day, it doesn’t seem to matter. Sunday through Saturday. You never know when an agent or publisher will be checking mail or email.

What matters is writing a GOOD story. And, be sure it’s been edited and proofed. Make sure it’s polished. That’s the best advantage you can possibly give yourself.

Summing it up.

1. Avoid the major holidays, December in particular.
2. No matter when your query is received, it will be placed in a slush pile behind the ones received before it.
3. Day and time-of -day doesn’t seem to matter when submitting a query. Aside from December, when your manuscript is ready, shoot it off.
4. Most publishers and agents will let you know (on their website) if they’re closed for July and August.
5. Your best chance of landing a contract is creating a really good story that’s polished.
6. Create a grabbing query letter.
7. In general, expect to wait around 3 months for a response.


To help you track seasonal differences in the response times of queries, you can check out:

This site also lists top literary agents and publishers and provides tools to keep your queries organized. And, you’ll have the benefit from the collective knowledge of thousands of other authors. And, it’s FREE!


Best Time to Submit to Literary Agents?

Be a children's writerBeing a writer, like being any kind of artist who creates something from nothing, is an amazing ability. It’s almost like magic. And, you are in control. You decide what to create. The only limit you have is the cap on your imagination.

Check out my 170+ page ebook (or paperback) that gives you all the basics of WRITING FICTION FOR CHILDREN. It’s newly revised and includes information on finding a publisher or agent, and marketing your books.

Write a children's book
Articles on writing for children

Your Author Platform – Is it Ever Too Soon to Start?

Walking Through Walls Book Trailer

Jan 29

3 Steps to Querying Publishers and Agents

The manuscript querying phase.

You’ve been slaving for months, maybe years, on your manuscript. You’ve read about belonging to a critique group to help you hone your work and took the advice to heart. You have also listened to the advice about submitting your manuscript to an editor after your critique group is done with it, and after you’ve meticulously self-edited it. Now, you’re ready to begin submissions.

While some authors choose to send queries to a publisher or an agent, there is no reason to choose, send queries off to both. But, there are a few steps you need to be aware of before you actually start submitting:

1. First Impressions

Professionalism, professionalism, professionalism. Yes, be professional. As with any business correspondence, do not use colored stationary, colored text, elaborate font, scented paper or envelope, or any other unprofessional features. You get one shot at making a first impression; don’t blow it on silly additions. And, don’t try to be cute or send a gift. Again, be professional.

2. Research

So, you understand you need to appear professional, but you also need to send your query to the right recipients. You can have the most professional looking query letter, but if you send a query to a romance publisher and you have written a children’s picture book, guess what? You’ll be out of luck.

Research for publishers and agents who work within the genre you write. There are services, such as WritersMarket ( that provide information on where and how to sell your articles or manuscripts. While these services may charge for the service, it is a worthwhile investment.

There are also books that offer the same information, such as Writer’s Market, and Children’s Writers and Illustrator’s Market. If you choose this option, you will need to get the new versions each year. Agents and publishers are changing staff all the time, new companies are popping up and others are closing down, you will need up-to-date information for your query submissions.

3. Content

In the February 2011 issue of the Writer, agent Betsy Lerner explained, “Editors and agents alike enjoy nothing more than being startled awake by a witty or moving letter.” They want to see something special and unique; this is where your pitch comes in.

While you may have taken heed and had your manuscript critiqued and looked at by an editor, you can do the same with your query letter.

You want to give the impression that you are intelligent, so your query letter must reflect that. Get it in the best shape possible, with a great hook, and then send it off to be critiqued.

Publishers and agents receive more queries than they can comfortably handle, so don’t give them a reason to simply reject yours because of unprofessionalism. Give your query and manuscript every possible opportunity for success.

Need help with your story?

Whether you need help with ghostwriting, rewriting, or coaching, let me take a look at your children’s story. Just email at: Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box. Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700.

Let’s get your idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable and marketable story today!

Or, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK.


Book Marketing – The Foundation
How to Write a Story
Traditional Publishing and the Author Platform – Be Realistic