Pub Rants

Turnaround Time

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STATUS: It was a hugely, crazy day and I have 10 minutes to blog before my evening commitment.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? DIDDLEY DADDY by Chris Isaak

I have a new goal this year. For current clients, my goal is to turnaround a read for a proposal with sample chapters in a matter of days (I’m actually achieving this!). If a full manuscript, two weeks.

So far I haven’t managed the latter. It’s taking me more like 3 weeks—edging into four (for which I’m always feeling incredibly guilty about). I do, however, always send my clients email updates with where they are in the queue and my estimated read time (which is invariably off by a couple of days but not usually more than that).

I’m in awe of agents who turnaround in less than a week consistently. I think I’m a fast reader but I guess not that fast.

So why so long for the turnaround on a full?

Well, it comes down to only being able to read at night or on weekends. And if you end up actually having a life while also being an agent (something I would argue is kind of scarce for agents), an evening commitment will nix an evening reading slot. That means it has to wait for the weekend.

There are only four weekends in a month. I can do maybe one full and half over a weekend. Depends if I’m just reading or if I’m doing the edit (as in for revisions before submission). And if there are five or six client manuscripts in the queue…

You can see where the turnaround time starts getting stretched.

Still, I’m committed to this goal. Now if I can just convince my clients not to all submit within a week of each other…

12 Responses

  1. LorMar said:

    I’m not to familiar with agent protocols but perhaps you could put your clients on a submission schedule. That may give you time to finish reading a manuscript.

  2. Christopher M. Park said:

    I think a lot of us authors are sympathetic to the fact that your reading hours are limited, even if we sometimes are impatient anyway. Unless there are unusual circumstances, I think most writers face the same challenges with writing as you do with reading–nights and weekends are it, unless the writer has the luxury of no 9-5 job. I’m not a published author, but the reading times you mentioned didn’t seem egregious at all to me.


  3. 2readornot said:

    It’s good to have reminders of agents’ time commitments — it’s easy for me to forget.

    Now i’m thinking that the 3-month wait for an agent (I’m not a client *yet*) isn’t so bad….

  4. Daryl Andrews said:

    That is why I work based on the Mayan Calendar.

    The Tzolkin date is a combination of two “week” lengths.

    While our calendar uses a single week of seven days, the Mayan calendar used two different lengths of week: a numbered week of 13 days, in which the days were numbered from 1 to 13

    Sure, no one else is on the same date as you but you get an extra 6 days.

    Don’t ya hate it when bloggers leave perfectly useless information?

    Full Disclosure: This came up on my daughter’s history report. I am not that obnoxious! 😉

    Hope ya have a great rest of the week!

    He Who Used Paragraphs This Time

  5. Lani said:

    Hey, Kristin! I’m a lurker here, but I love your blog, and I wanted to say that you’re doing great! I’m a writer with a fabulous agent who does amazing turnaround and on behalf of the clients, I can tell you it’s deeply appreciated. I don’t know how you guys do what you do – my eyes would cross after all that reading! So, just hopping in to cheer you on; the fact that you’re working so hard to tighten those turnarounds says a lot about how you feel about your clients. They’re lucky to have you.

  6. cynjay said:

    My agent has a “reading week” every month – usually the second week of the month. We all know that she is reading our stuff that week and that she will usually get back to us about our projects the following week. We try not to communicate with her unless it is very important – and she always calls with good news, reading week or not.

  7. JDuncan said:

    Really, Kristen. A month turnaround on an ms is a perfectly acceptable time frame. Given the number of agencies where I’ve seen listed turnaround times of far more than that, aiming for one month is a very worthy goal and nothing for us writers to complain about. Nothing to feel guilty about, trust me.


  8. Sue Dent said:

    I tried to e-mail this through the main site and it wouldn’t send so I’m going to put what I needed to ask you here. The Lori Perkins agency is looking at my second novel but I desperately want my it with a substantial Christian publisher(okay, who doesn’t.) My debut novel, Never Ceese, a Spiritual Fantasy was short-listed in 2006 for a Bram Stoker Award in the category of Superior Achievement in a First Novel. It is currently Book of the Month for April at the ACFW and is up for book of the year at well. I just returned from Toronto Canada where I was an invited guest at the World Horror Convention of Nicholas Grabowsky who wrote Halloween IV.

    Journey Stone Creations has first right of refusal on my second book which means I can still look around. Anyway, I drafted up an outline at the request of the Lori Perkins agency and sent along the first chapter as well, also at their request. So if your interested, I do have that ready.

    If you are interested, well that would be grand!

    You can see more at:

    Anyway, just wanted to share and hope I didn’t insult anyone by posting here. Also, it’s being marketed as young adult.

    Sue Dent

  9. Shelley said:

    I second the comment about writers’ schedules. For the vast majority of us, the only time we have to write is nights and weekends.

    So we get the agenting schedule. A month is reasonable and understandable. More than that is frustrating.

  10. Anonymous said:

    The fact that you give your clients updates as to where they stand in the queue is awesome. Four weeks is not all that long.
    My husband joked the other day when my 12-yr-old son finished a book in one day that he was skeptical that the writer would be all too thrilled. Devouring a book without really savoring (or fully digesting) does the author no justice.
    Take your time.

  11. Anonymous said:

    I am filled with admiration over your resolutions to respond promptly. But isn’t reading fulls part of your job? Why are you letting your work-related reading get pushed into what should be personal time? That shouldn’t be happening unless the book is so good it keeps you up all night.