What Should Writers Do During the Holidays?
Most writers have free time around the holidays and they usually think this is the time to try to sell their books, including novels and nonfiction. They contact literary agents, hoping to hear back from them to get their foot in the publishing door. But it's a big mistake to contact agents at this time of year because you cannot hope to interest them in your book during the holiday season. But that doesn't mean your holidays need to be idle. On the contrary, the holidays can be a time of great productivity. You can do the following during a holiday:
- Work on your manuscript
- Polish your book proposal
- Revise your query to literary agents
- Make a list of literary agents to contact in January
- Read through your book proposal, looking for typographical errors
- Reassure yourself that it's going to be okay to send simultaneous queries to agents
- Look for new agents who might like your work.
If you use the holidays in this way, you'll be ready to send out simultaneous queries in January. Your holiday won't be wasted just waiting. You'll be ready when the time comes to send out those queries.
Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day I never query agents. As a general rule, people are too busy at this time of year and their mind is focused on family and holidays. Naturally a writer thinks that his book is the most important thing in the world and that people will drop everything to read it. But this is just the artist in you talking. You must also learn to meet the business professional in you as well. The business side of you should tell you that during the holidays you must never query an agent.
And just as a reminder: for novels, you need a completed manuscript, for nonfiction you need a completed book proposal. Then you query agents, asking whether they'd like to look at your completed novel or your book proposal for the nonfiction work.
Anais Nin would never make this common writer's mistake. The French writer was very aware of how to publicize her work, which is one reason for her early success. She would patiently wait until New Years's Day to send out her queries. (Photo: Nin and her first husband, Ian Hugo)