Sometimes authors send me an email asking, “Are you looking at new submissions?” or “Are you accepting new clients?”
I appreciate these authors’ desire not to waste my time or theirs, but I’ll say it here: I’m always open to submissions and new clients. Now, does this mean I’m open to reading entire unpublished books on every and any topic? Or that I hope to sign five new clients every week? No. I still need the submissions to be marketable to the publishers I work with, and for you to want to work with me.
I’ve seen some industry professionals and publishers put a temporary moratorium on when they’ll review submissions.
Believe me, I get it. Sometimes busy professionals really and truly need to clear their IN boxes and one help is to stop incoming submissions. Or the reasons for a moratorium may be more complex. For example, the editor may be switching careers, or a publisher’s desire and ability to publish a certain line may be in question.
On the flip side, I’ve witnessed confusion concerning moratoriums. It seems as though half of all authors don’t find out about a moratorium until about three months after it’s in effect. Then, when you feel comfortable taking submissions again, the other half don’t seem to get this news.
I view setting a moratorium as a possible loss. If I tell you not to send your submission when the time is right for you, I miss the chance to review it. For this reason, I have never put a moratorium on submissions.
Another way to stem the tide is to put conditions on submissions such as, “Submit only if I have met you in person,” and/or “Only if you come highly recommended.” In other words, no cold call submissions. Of course, this is a great way to assure you receive submissions from authors already known to you. You’ve made a connection, and this is an awesome way to start a business partnership. I have met many wonderful authors at conferences and have been pleased to receive strong recommendations from current clients.
But this means that an author who can’t afford to go to a conference, or who has too many family obligations to travel, has limited potential to be seen. As for getting a client to recommend you to a publisher or agent? Establishing that type of relationship takes time. Even then, it may not happen because most authors don’t want to abuse the privilege of recommending their friends to agents and publishers.
I don’t mind hearing from authors I don’t know. Perhaps I’m sympathetic because I broke in to the industry as a writer who had never been to a conference. As for travel, when my girls were younger, our Christian school didn’t have bus service, so I drove to and from school twice a day – one year, three times a day – thanks to half-day kindergarten. If I did travel, my husband had to cover me by taking off from his job. So my own possibilities would have been restricted if I had been required to go to a conference to be published.
Though I’m past these intense obligations now, I remember what it was like. I want to give authors in similar circumstances a hearing.
I’ve seen some guidelines that say, “We consider submissions only during the month of January,” and the like.
When I was still writing books and articles for publication, this type of guideline was a pinnacle of frustration for me. Invariably, I’d finished my work on February 2.
A second pinnacle of frustration happened when I did wait to submit to a magazine only to be told before the season even opened that they were already full.
After that, seasonal guidelines always drove me to find other publishers.
No End in Sight
Does being open to submissions all the time mean extra work? Absolutely.
Does it mean wasting some time? Probably.
But as a literary agent who plans to participate in the industry for the foreseeable future, I don’t mind doing some extra work when it means I can connect with authors who otherwise wouldn’t have a chance to communicate with me. So if you think we may be a good professional match, feel free to press SEND.
What is the most frustrating aspect of submitting your work to agents, editors, and publishers?
What limitations on submissions have you seen? Were you able to submit, and were you successful?