Pub Rants

Evil Dry Spell

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STATUS: It was one of those busy Mondays that when the day concluded, I had to sit there for a moment and think about what exactly did I do all day. I feel this way when I haven’t been able to tick off my big To Do item for the day.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? DOS GARDENIAS by Buena Vista Social Club

An agent friend just emailed me to say she’s in the “zone.” The evil dry spell. I’m actually happy that the year is winding down because I can already sense the approach of one for me as well.

What that means in agent lingo is that everything we have cookin’ is already out on submission and there’s nothing new in the hopper (and that includes no new current client stuff). They are all off writing like the good authors they are.

For unrepresented writers, this is actually a good thing because that means we are looking furiously for something new to take on because in the dry spell, we start reading our queries faster. We ask for more sample pages then we might ordinarily. We’ll take a chance on reading full manuscript of a work that maybe didn’t win us over entirely initially in the sample pages but because it’s so dry, we’re more lenient and will request a full.

Now I do have to admit that when a dry spell hits, it doesn’t necessarily translate into taking on more clients (at least for me). But I do read a lot more when I’m “in the spell” so to speak.

Unless something amazing hits my desk in the next couple of weeks, I’ll probably be in that zone come Jan. 2, 2008.

And after the holidays, I’ll be gung-ho to tackle it.

21 Responses

  1. susannah eanes said:

    was thinking the same thing as allen, and mine is actually ready. only my dilemma is, i cannot remember if i’ve submitted to kristin before, and can’t actually look it up because my computer died in october, and all email queries and submission tracking file with it.

    but i do have this 90K word southern literary novel that i would love to send.

    this manuscript was sent out to several agents at the beginning of the summer and based on feedback i’ve polished it a bit – overall i was told “lovely writing, love the characters, but perhaps not commercial enough. needs more action, less telling…. and look for an agent who sells to major, instead of regional or chick-lit publishers.”

    i took these as positives, especially for a first novel.

    i’d hate to resubmit if kristin has already seen it and was one who outright said, ‘no, thanks.’ but then – if she hasn’t, i’d love to send it.

    dangling that hook out there has to garner some worse things, i’d wager. and faint heart never won fair agent, yes?

  2. Anonymous said:

    Any idea on how long the dry spell lasts, on average? Mine should be ready to go by about February or March.

  3. Ink Johnson said:

    I’m in the same boat as you, Allen. I suppose I could make some tweaks and rush it in, but I’m guessing making my query letter shine and submitting it during a monsoon would be better than having a flickering-at-best query letter during a drought.

  4. Sherry Thomas said:

    Oh, cool, then you can pounce on my manuscript in early Jan, because I have to finish it by the end of the year.

    Word Verif: ttbemy. I think I used to say a similar prayer in my pubescent years. 🙂

  5. Angela said:

    Thank you for letting us know! After sending you Lament of the Dove this summer, I’m eager to get you something else–and I’ve just finished another project. Hopefully I can get it edited into shape before your zone time expires. *^_^*

  6. Anonymous said:

    fwiw, I started querying on a project starting September 4, 2007. I’ve heard back from close to 40 agents since then (1 request for a full, the rest form rejections). But most responses came within the first two months.

    Regardless of the rejection rate, this is the fastest turnaround time I’ve ever experienced, and I’ve been querying all throughout the year for the past five years. (your mileage may vary).

  7. magolla said:

    So, what about those of us who sent a sucky query letter months ago and recieved a form rejection, but have since learned from your wonderful tutaledge how to write a decent query to garner your attention, can we requery with our new and improved query?
    BTW: It is an urban fantasy, somthing you mentioned you are looking for.

  8. Ryan Field said:

    I think these dry spells hit everyone in publishing. There are a lot of freelance writers, like me, who reach a point where everything that needs to be submitted to editors has been. It’s usually this time of year and August for me.

  9. sylvia_rachel said:

    (quoting jeannie ruesch) So for someone who currently HAS a partial with you, is this good news or bad? 🙂

    This is my question, too …

  10. Rob said:

    Dear Rejector,

    This may sound like a stupid question, but does this dry spell tend to happen around the same time of the year\?

    Your post gave me the impression that Dec-Jan could have more dry spells than other months.

  11. Anonymous said:

    Oh good. If I find something under my desk with sexy witches, sexy vampires or sexy aliens I’ll get it right in. Maybe I’ll dredge up that piece I wrote in college about the hot pizza delivery girl who is really the guardian of the gates to hell. The SEXY gates to hell, not the scary ones.

  12. wonderer said:

    ink johnson wrote…

    I’m in the same boat as you, Allen. I suppose I could make some tweaks and rush it in, but I’m guessing making my query letter shine and submitting it during a monsoon would be better than having a flickering-at-best query letter during a drought.

    My thoughts exactly. Too bad, though, because I will be querying Kristin when it’s ready. It just isn’t yet.

  13. Liz said:

    Okay, now I am torn. I was told by industry professionals to not submit from Thanksgiving till the middle of January because agents won’t be reading during the holidays and when they do start reading in January, they will have so many piled up queries from the holidays and people doing their new years resolutions that they will be more likely to reject.

    Not sure what to do…

  14. Anonymous said:


    One thing about industry professionals in this game is this; they all believe completely different things. If you ask an agent about novel length (Nelson included) for a first book, you’ll be told that 100-115K is a good size. If you ask an editor from a major publishing house, you get a blank look and the response, “Why is everyone so obsessed with wordcount? Between font sizes, type spacing, margin widths, even thickness of paper, we can print anything!” What’s true for this agency isn’t true for all others; my advice is to research each agency carefully (read blogs, submission guidelines, etc.) and figure out who is going to be home for your query. All these people here are sheep who think words from Kristin are like drops of golden sunshine from Ra. Look elsewhere for info if you aren’t selling Harlequin romance ripoffs.

    Yeah, I said it.

  15. Cindy Procter-King said:

    The hot pizza delivery girl who’s really the guardian to the Sexy Gates of Hell? I like it!!

  16. Anonymous said:

    Liz, I think the best time to query is when you’re ready to query. Unless an agent blogs about their schedule, there’s no way to know if they’re busy or out of town or sick or whatever.

    FWIW, I ended up querying agents between Halloween and Jan. 1 (two years ago) because my ms was ready to go. I’d heard it was a bad time to query, but my experience proved otherwise. Most agents responded to my letter and requested material very, very quickly. I even had a full ms request the week of Christmas.

  17. karen wester newton said:

    Also remember that queries are by no means exclusive. You can and should query a whole bunch of agents at once, although not without researching what they like to see in a query. I sent a query to my agent last October; she took a few weeks to ask for a partial, another few to ask for the full m.s., and I had an agent by Christmas. Yes, she was busy, but she was still reading her slush pile.

    Of course, it did take a few month after that before we got the m.s. ready for her to send out. The holidays put a hole in my schedule as well as hers.

  18. Anonymous said:

    Hot pizza delivery girl guarding the gates of Hell? That’s different. Does she work for Little Caesars? I find it funny that the backs of their T-shirts say “Hot ‘N’ Ready” (Wrong on so many levels.)