Friday, February 12, 2010

Blame It On Tax Season

There's always a season for literary agents to explain away their slow response time to your query.

Summers are slow in publishing, with Friday afternoons cut out of the work week so that publishing tycoons can get to their weekend retreat in the Hamptons. The end of August is impossible, with all the vacations shutting up the entire industry for a couple of weeks. As for the Christmas and New Year's holiday weeks, forget it. No one's in the office.

I've noticed a definite increase in the time that passes between query and response, and I've come to find out that it's tax season for the agents and their clients.

Financial statements have to be prepared and mailed in January so that the clients can file their tax returns in time to beat the deadlines for financial aid applications for their college-age children. Actually, by law the forms have to be mailed early in the year, and agents are under the gun to get the things done. On top of that is their usual work of contacting editors, preparing submissions to publishers, etc. and there's no time for reading query letters.

Waiting on a publisher to get back to me about a submission is bad enough, and I already know that it could be many more months before I find out if my novel is worth their while.

It's miserable waiting to hear from literary agents who, in the past, have responded within days. Maybe it's the hectic pace of tax season. Maybe it's because my query letter and manuscript sample were so intriguing that they had to be set aside, saved for a time when IRS forms are cleared away and the agent can devote some quality time to some quality writing.

Quite the vivid imagination I have.

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