Friday, November 26, 2010

The Best Time of Year to Query Literary Agents

The Best Time of Year to Query Literary Agents by Jeff Rivera, founder of

As any book publishing professional will tell you, now is the time when the industry goes on hiatus. But guess what? This is one of the best times of the year to pitch agents. Why? Because agents may slow down during the hiatus period but they cannot help but sneak a peak at their email.

I know because I deal with literally hundreds of literary agencies every year.

They're constantly searching for the next hot thing to represent. And if it's sent to them now, they will have enough time to spit polish it before the industry starts back up again in January.

What's so special about January? Editors come back from the holidays with a fresh new perspective. They're also loaded up with their expense accounts all over again so they'll be ready to rock n' roll when they use those accounts to lunch with your new agent.

Expense accounts are often on a "use it or lose it" basis. If the editor didn't use all their lunch money last year, they'll receive an even less amount this year. It's also around the time when editors and editorial directors have set or are about to set their editorial schedules. So, what better time to submit to agents!

If you have something solid and ready, get your query letter together. And it better be good because you only have one shot with these agents. What are agents looking for right now more than ever?

1) Middle grade - If you've written the next Diary of a Wimpy Kid, especially a funny book for boys now's the time to pitch it.

2) Young Adult fiction - Hot, Hot, Hot! If you have a YA book, nothing's hotter in the industry. It's the one genre that has not dipped in sales tremendously. In fact, agencies are adding more agents to their rosters, specifically looking for this genre. More agents means more opportunities for you.

3) Graphic novels - If you're an author who has had a difficult time selling your novel, think about adapting it as a graphic novel. The great thing is, you don't have to be able to draw. Simply align yourself with a great artist. Create a 5-page sample of your work, a detailed summary and presto! That's all you need. 100% of the clients we've done this for have gotten agents.

4) Celebrity Memoirs - If you've got connections to celebrities, even D-List Reality TV star celebrities, this is a sure bet. Submit a solid book proposal co-written or ghost written by you and your hot celebrity and two things will happen: 1) The sun will rise tomorrow 2) An agent will request to read your proposal.

5) High Platform Nonfiction - If you have a huge opt-in mailing list, are the president of a large charity or organization, own your own PR firm, or have strong media connections, now's the time to write a book. Remember, if it's a nonfiction book, you only need write a book proposal, not the entire manuscript. With a strong platform, you'll have agents chasing after you instead of the other way around. 100% of the clients we created book proposals for have landed agents and damn good ones within a week or two.

Remember, you only have one shot with these agents, so make sure your query letter is as solid as possible. If you need help writing a winning query letter, email and we'll help you. 100% of the query letters we've ghost-written have received requests from at least 10 top agents to read the manuscripts or proposals.

-- Jeff Rivera, author of Forever My Lady (on Kindle):
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