Pub Rants

The Dead Zone

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STATUS: TGIF! Tonight I’m volunteering for the Denver Parade of Lights. My hubby and I did this last year and it was a blast. We held and manipulated the enormous Rudolph the Reindeer balloon. This year we have the Parade Mascot—a Penguin. Happy feet!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? LUSH LIFE by Natalie Cole

We are heading into the holiday dead zone of publishing. Sounds like it should be some cheesy horror film, doesn’t it?

I and almost every agent friend I have are completely slammed right now. Why? Because most of us won’t submit projects after the first week in December so it’s next week or bust (we wait until 2007).

Man, it’s weird writing that. I can’t believe it’s 2007 already.

But here’s the reason why we don’t submit much after the first week in December. A lot of editors take extra holiday time around this time of year because publishing slows down. So a lot of key decision makers tend to leave the office early and if you have a project generating excitement… editors have to confer with those key people.

It’s just too frustrating so we wait until the calendar turns to the new year.

Unless you get it out my next week that is… hence the mad scramble.

20 Responses

  1. cm allison said:

    Dearest Kristin
    Does that mean that after the crunch is over you get to catch up on the slush pile?

    I have something similar in my (ugh: 8-5)alternate job: end-of-the-year and tax time, one runs right into the other. VERY busy from December 30 to April 15: no vacation or time off at all during that period.

    Good luck!

  2. Elektra said:

    Does this mean that agents will have extra time to review queries/partials/fulls, or simply that they’ll be taking a long break as well?

  3. Anonymous said:

    Sometimes I’m so embarrassed by my fellow writers. You finish telling us how your business will down and out for a month, and all we can do is ask if this will mean you’ll have more time to read our stuff in your slush pile.

  4. Elektra said:

    Yes, anonmous, God forbid we ask if a business is still running. Would you be embarrassed by fellow shoppers if they called to ask whether the grocery store would be open longer Christmas Eve?

  5. Anonymous said:

    I queried last year during the holidays and was surprised at how quickly agents responded to queries and requested submissions.

  6. Diana Pharaoh Francis said:

    Hi Kristin~

    This has nothing to do with the topic, but rather a question based on a recent blog entry by Holly Lisle on sales and chain stores. The URL is:

    I’m really curious as to your take on what she says. Further down in the comments she notes that the three book death spiral is something that agents gnash their teeth about. Or something to that effect. Would you agree with what she says? Do you have a different take? What do you do (if there’s anything to be done) to try to prevent this for your clients?

    I’m a midlist author, and so far, so good as far as earning out and increasing sales. But this post really made me wonder about some things and wonder wherein lies the truth. So just in case you’re interested in taking up the question, I’d love to hear.


    Diana Pharaoh Francis

  7. Anonymous said:

    Electra actually asked a question I have lately wondered about. I’m in the process of submitting a manuscript, and I’d been wondering if I should cease and desist until after the first of the year, or if agents would continue business as usual. This is not to suggest agents shouldn’t take a break – this is just so I’d have an idea whether I should take a break myself, rather than send stuff to add to a slush pile that’s not going to move during the holidays! 😉

    I mean, we could all use the break for important stuff like .. hot buttered rum and snuggling by the fire. 😉

    ~ G. Atwater

  8. Anonymous said:

    There’s something to this “taking the end of the year off” phenomenon, but reassuringly for those of us out there hammering away on partials and queries and the like, editors and agents don’t take much time off past Christmas. The best illustration of this was when a friend and I both submitted stuff to a major publisher around Thanksgiving time, and lo and behold, we both got letters from the same editor at the same house, asking for fulls…dated the same day. And that day was January 2!

    So it’s a well-deserved break for hot buttered rum, but it’s not a long one. I’d submit anyway, so your stuff is waiting after Christmas…because from the sound of it, business as usual picks up right after New Year’s.

    My take,

    P.S. There’s absolutely nothing crass about asking if that then means someone will get around to reading a slush pile during a “lull.” The last agent I heard from sent me feedback over Thanksgiving weekend. 🙂

    I think the numbers of us who don’t squeeze in a little writing time over the holidays can be counted on one hand, so it wouldn’t be farfetched for an agent or editor with a few free minutes to think, “Hmm,I could pick up one of two of these things and give them a look.”

    We can’t expect it, or begrudge these people some time off–but it’s not unprofessional or rude to ask about it. That’s unnecessary guilt, and if we’re smart, we won’t take it on.

  9. Anonymous said:

    Thanks to all who posted here about querying this time of year. I planned on starting tomorrow, but then read Kristin’s comments and wondered if it was poor timing. You’ve all reassured me it’s fine to go ahead. So kind of you to share your experiences.

  10. cm allison said:

    To those of ou who think asking if someone might have time to catch up on “back-log” work if the crunch is over is wrong, sorry, but I get that ALL the time in my (hated 8-5) employment! As mentioned, my really bad crunch time runs from Jan 01 to Apr 15, and still I get co-workers asking me to review something, create a new spread sheet, or do another analysis. Have to tell them, wait until Apr 16, then I’ll get to you. It’s real life people, I look forward to that “time off” to clear things that have accumulated during those 3 1/2 months. I still take a breather, but get work done also,just at a slower pace.

  11. Joelle said:

    What this time of year also means is that we writers get a slew of rejections, usually starting on Christmas Eve and running strong through New Years. Gotta get that desk cleared off before the holidays seems to be the editorial mentality…who cares if we mess up the writer’s life! I’m writing this with a smile on my face though. After all, you have to have things out to get acceptances and with that comes a few rejections too. Every writer I know gets a lot of rejections during that week though. Not just me!

  12. Anonymous said:

    Funny, I started querying agents(by e-mail) just before Thanksgiving last year, and didn’t get the sense that things slowed down too much over the holidays. By Christmas I’d sent out a dozen queries, and got 4 requests for partials/proposals. By the first of the year,I had received one offer (which I declined) from an “iffy” agent, and 3 “no’s” (though one left the door open if I revised) from the other agents who’d asked to see more. It took another six months of querying and sending out proposals before I found an agent.

    My agent started sending my book proposal out to editors a few weeks ago. No word so far, so it’s good to know that maybe there is an expected “slump” from this point on, and I shouldn’t be on pins and needles, or assume the worst…!

  13. Anonymous said:

    Just read Joelle’s comment–yikes! Despite what I said in my earlier post, I guess I should be bracing myself for the worst!

  14. Anonymous said:

    Hope it wasn’t as cold for your Parade of Lights as it was here in the Springs!
    My poor kids were ready to head for home after about 20 minutes in the 5 degree weather.

  15. Ryan Field said:

    I wish this were the case with freelance work and private calls for submission from publishers. Last week they requested three projects that have January 2007 deadlines. And you don’t say no to a private call because it’s takes too long to get on those private lists from publishers. I’ve noticed this change in the last two years…even around Labor Day when things are typically slow.

  16. Termagant 2 said:

    Holidays notwithstanding, there IS no good time for a rejection letter. I get bummed out by them during summer, fall, spring, winter, the holidays, Beethoven’s birthday…

    But anytime’s fine for a “yes, please.”


  17. Anonymous said:

    Well, I guess the holiday season has arrived. Just got my first editor rejection letters, passed along by my agent. Deck the halls, and so on 🙂