Timing a query is not exactly a fine art, and it does involve a lot of luck.
Would it be unlucky to fire off a letter to a literary agent in New York City right now?
It's been a week since Hurricane Sandy took out the power in Manhattan, where most of the agents work. What you have to ask yourself is whether or not that agent you'd like to query has power at home, which could be in New Jersey or the Upper East Side or perhaps Brooklyn.
Unless you have inside knowledge, you can't be sure that this is a good time to query.
Consider instead all the agents who don't live in New York, and whose lives were not uprooted.
Kristin Nelson is out there in Colorado, safe from the hurricane. Sandra Dijkstra and her crew are located in California, along with Laura Bradford And there are others.
They can't get much done as far as submitting to editors in New York, for hurricane-related reasons. The major publishers are only now getting e-mail back, and it was not until Friday that some reported their electricity restored.
Those agents need something to do, to keep themselves occupied while waiting for Manhattan to come back to life. Without the distractions of phone calls to editors who aren't there, or don't have phone service, they can devote their full attention to your plea.
When will it be a good time to query an agent based in New York?
Who could say?
But maybe you'll get lucky and hit one who would like nothing more than to see an inbox full of query letters when they finally get back online, just so they can begin to feel normal again.
Of course you could be unlucky and overload those who are already overwhelmed with storm clean up and the need to bunk with Mom and Dad for the past week.
It's always a matter of luck when it comes to querying.