publish.me: How to approach “closed to submissions”
In November 2016, our agency decided to close to submissions for two months, as all of us at the agency had a large number of partial and full manuscripts to read. This was due to the many queries received (where we requested each book), as well as the conferences we had attended in the second half of 2016.
Thankfully our agency is not alone. This is a normal practice in publishing, which will be done by some publishing houses, as well as literary agencies. The reality is that more people than ever are writing (who doesn’t love that?), but there are only so many hours in a day one is able to read submissions. The other responsibilities we have in our respective publishing houses and agencies generally will take precedence over the submissions pile.
As a writer, how does this impact your individual goal of getting published?
First and foremost, a dose of patience is necessary. Whether you are waiting to submit until a house is open to submissions, or if your book happens to be in that special group of manuscripts needing attention, it’s a hard thing to do. Please know that your patience is always appreciated. Case in point, I offered representation to an author of a YA novel that I requested in April 2016. I didn’t read it until the agency closed to submissions. Needless to say, I was thrilled when the author accepted my offer.
If you’re waiting to submit an idea to a house closed to submissions, there’s the importance of ensuring the idea is the best it can be. Querying with an idea that isn’t fully ready for a publishers/agents will generally result in rejections. That window of time is a call to take the extra steps to ensure the pitch, the book itself, and if required, your platform is ready (generally needed for nonfiction). If these things aren’t completed in time, then wait till until the next opportunity. Time will be on your side, I promise.
Lastly, once your book does reach editors and agents, it’s best to assume we will not re-read the manuscript many times. As a general practice, once we’ve considered an idea, we’re not going to consider it again. We will generally reconsider an idea when we’ve directly asked for revisions and for the author to resubmit the idea. In an ideal world, we’d have the free time to do this for every book that crosses our desks, but in today’s publishing climate, it’s almost non-existent. Taking the extra time to fine tune your book idea will on average have better results vs. not doing taking the extra steps in advance.
Once you begin your submission process, make sure to check the agent and publisher webpages. If they are closed to submissions, consider it a special gift of time. Please know that we look forward to your ideas when they are 100% ready.
Dawn Michelle Frederick is the owner & literary agent of Red Sofa Literary, established in 2008. Red Sofa Literary is a celebration of the quirky, eclectic ideas in our publishing community. Dawn’s previous experience reflects a broad knowledge of the book business, with over a decade of experience as a bookseller in the independent, chain, and specialty stores, an editor for a YA publisher, and an associate literary agent at Sebastian Literary Agency. Dawn earned a BS in Human Ecology and a MS in Library & Information Sciences from an ALA-accredited institution. She is also one of the founders of the MN Publishing Tweet Up, which brings writers and publishers together over a monthly happy hour. www.redsofaliterary.com was voted as one of the Best 101 Websites by Writer’s Digest in 2012 and 2013.