The list of authors I represent is very small, and that’s how I want it to stay. I’m more motivated to serve my clients well than to serve lots of them, but that’s not to say my methods are economically practical. We shall see.
After my first year in this business, I decided to accept queries from prospective clients during only one month annually. I’m convinced that there are better ways to find the talented writers with the necessary business sense to handle the demands of commercial publication. However, I know that some writers who are new to the business of getting published find themselves channeled into a process of querying and submissions that’s somewhat familiar because it resembles applying for admission to graduate school or for a fellowship. Sending queries to literary agents is a hallowed procedure, even though writers consider it time-consuming and exasperating. That’s why I continue to take part in the tradition for one month each year. This year, I’ll accept queries only during July. Year-round, my guidelines for querying can be found on my agency’s website.
After reading the queries and five-page writing samples I receive in July 2011, I expect to ask for the opportunity to read a handful of completed manuscripts. Then, odds are I’ll offer representation to one or two writers who could, of course, opt to sign with other agencies or self-publish their books.
During the remainder of the year, I meet prospective clients through referrals, at writers’ conferences and other literary events, and by contacting the authors of creative work I’ve read online or in print. Yes, some of that work is self-published.
Prospective clients need to know that my experience to date is with literary fiction and what could be termed upmarket commercial fiction, which can be essentially the same thing. While I’m always looking for good genre fiction, I tend to appreciate and enjoy more literary writing. Occasionally, I let my enthusiasm for a novel override my common sense, but I’m dogged about not giving up on a manuscript. If nothing else, making that commitment to find a publisher is a good way to discipline myself not to stray too far from what’s commercial, regardless of what I like.
I must say that it’s nice to be looking forward to a deluge of queries in July.