Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Hiatus Season

Literary agents are advising that replies to queries will be delayed during the start of hiatus season.

It's what the rest of us call summer, except we don't get Friday afternoons off and shut down for a week before Labor Day.

Book Expo America has opened today, not the most important conference for agents but one that draws some amount of attention. It's being held in New York City this year, making it easy for agents to attend and still go home at the end of the day. Saves money on hotel bills, and it's all about saving money where you can these days.

BEA is about marketing books, and with all the hand-wringing over digital publishing versus traditional paper and ink, there are plenty of conferences planned to address the issue. Literary agents will be there to hear what's predicted for the future, where publishing is going and what that means for author royalties. That's how they get paid, so they'll be paying attention.

Of course, while the literary agents are sitting in rooms at the Jacob Javits Center, they won't be reading your queries or your (if you're one of the lucky ones) full manuscript. A response time that might have been advertised as six weeks gets stretched out because a person can't be in two places at once.

After the show ends on Thursday, the Memorial Day weekend opens. Agents who were out of the office for most of the week won't run in on Friday to catch up on mail and get back to you on that submission. The following Monday is a holiday, and there goes the weekend.

Summer in publishing means time off, with the top executives and super-powered agents heading off to their place in the Hamptons for leisurely weekends. Nothing can get done, so everyone else goes home early.

Again, it's your query letter or manuscript submission that has to wait to be seen.

The hiatus season is coming in. Get used to longer wait times. Learn patience.

Or focus on writing another novel. Makes the time fly by.

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