Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Summer Slowdown

Your queries have been met with silence. Your agent has inexplicably vanished. Your editor has departed for parts unknown. What gives?

The answer: it's summer.

The publishing industry doesn't exactly go into hibernation during the summer months, but it's fair to say that business slows down substantially between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Aside from physical production, everything winds down a bit: offers from agents, acquisitions from editors, &c, &c. It's sort of the calm before the storm of the holiday season (October through December).

If you're currently submitting a manuscript, don't be surprised if it takes longer than usual to hear back. Not only is there an industry-wide downtrend in acquiring new work, but the majority of publishing professionals take vacation during the summer months, meaning that at any given time a large percentage of available staff are out of the office. Even if your agent is around, if (s)he depends on his/her assistant to filter submissions and that assistant is in CancĂșn for the week, you probably won't be hearing back about your novel for at least that long.

My advice? Spend the summer writing. As I've mentioned before, I waste spend my non-publishing, non-blogging time as a poet, and since most literary journals and magazines are affiliated with universities, they either close submissions or are much slower in responding during June, July, and August. I take this time to recharge my batteries, burn a little well-deserved vacation, and write/rewrite in preparation for the autumn submission period.

What about you, mes auteurs? Are you submitting now? If not, how are you spending your writing-related time?

16 comments:

  1. In regards to agents, I've noticed over the course of the last two years that the people I submit to take vacation/close to catch up in August, but the volume of queries prevents them from truly downshifting for the entire summer. I'm working on a query now and will either submit in the middle of July or wait until September.

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  2. I just sent my latest manuscript to my publisher, so I guess now is a good time to start writing again.

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  3. Congrats, Alex. And Eric, it's rather nice to know that you spend your down time writing poetry. Wouldn't have pegged you for that from the three or four posts I've read and it's nice when people surprise us like that.

    Waiting on the response to a submission of a full from a truly professional, kind agent. All I can say is I'm glad I'm no longer seven, when peeing in one's pants was a distinct possibility.

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  4. Summer tends to be revision time for me; more often or not I end up finishing first drafts in May or June and then revise through the summer. It's a bit of a slower pace and it's nice.

    But re: agents. If I could take a vacation, I'd take it in summer. I figure they're doing the same.

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  5. I didn't know things slow down in summer. The writers in this house have never been busier. All of this fresh air and exercise is giving our creativity a boost.

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  6. I've been sending stories to literary magazines and entering writing contests. I wish I was rich enough to take a vacation, but instead I've been working two jobs: one job is for a website and the other is in retail. And when it comes to retail, most customers don't take time off because shopping is often part of their vacation.

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  7. As e-publishing breaks down old geographical barriers it's fast becoming one world for writers.

    Spare a thought for your many readers outside the US who have to rush to google to make sense of phrases like "between Memorial Day and Labour Day"!

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  8. Since summer also means bored kids underfoot, I'm not getting much writing done. But it's a great time for marketing platform activities (web site tidying, blogging, etc.) and for researching that next book idea.

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  9. I've been sending, sending (waiting, waiting) and I love your advice here to just take a deep breath and go back to writing, writing.
    Suze, I am in the same place you are, and your comment about peeing your pants -- perfect! I am laughing now, and trying not to pee.

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  10. Writing a little bit every day - which, I'm ashamed to say, I don't do during the non-summer (academic) months. (Not that I don't write, I just don't write as regularly.)

    Also working on my side project, The Postcard Press, which is entirely other peoples' writing; from that side of things, I can attest that even though I'm working, it takes me a lot longer to get back to writers regarding their submissions.

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  11. I haven't really done much in the way of writing (dropped one project for another and I'm trying to get all 100+ pages of editing notes processed before writing again), but I do plan on tweaking my query, my synopsis and my novel (a lot of e-publishers have different formatting requirements. great way to drive yourelf buggy) for the next couple of weeks before resuming the torturous submission process.

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  12. Just like mother nature around these parts, it feels like everything is blossoming at once! Running a summer culinary program for kids, while one novel is out with agents and another is balancing precariously between first draft and outline. Fall, oddly enough is when things slow down, and I get to look and see what yummy dishes were "made" in the summer.

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  13. Recharge your batteries while writing poetry?

    Goodness. I don't think there is any harder work than poetry. Worse than being a CEO for Shell.

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  14. Oh, and slightly less well paid, it just occurred to me. Only slightly, of course. It's close.

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  15. Trying to write at least a page a day, but it's hard to concentrate with changing family schedules, heat & humidity, gardening, the beach, etc. But submissions? Not right now; and if the comments to my blog are any indication, things are pretty slow on that front too!

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