As things are winding down, I find my mind clearing a bit. No longer do I have a gazillion things going on, so I thought I'd touch on some valueable information.
I've always been the kind of gal who learns as she goes. I don't often make the same mistake twice, and pick up on things pretty quick. So note that we didn't always submit this way, but have spent our first six months growing and gaining knowledge into the submission process. Agenting is a never-ending learning process (that's why I love it).
So, submitting. Before we submit to an editor we---
1. Prepare the pitch.
In most cases this is a quick and easy process. Generally, by the time I've read through the manuscript, I already have a pitch in mind. I compare what I have with the client's query, mix and match in some cases, and might even ask the client to go back and rewrite their query (particularly the bio section).
From there, the first bit of each pitch will vary from editor to editor.
2. Prepare the manuscript.
Now this step can vary. Sometimes a manuscript is ready by the time we have the contract. Some works take longer. For instance, one client (lovable, highly talented) has worked through various rewrites. We signed him in May, and since then his work has gone from 80k to almost 100k and then back to the 80k (but with many different story elements). Some of this stemmed from editorial comments, others his own intuition.
We generally read the manuscript at least 3 times before the editor ever sees it. The first time when we read it as our submission, the second time as a read through for plot inconsistencies, the third time for typos and such. Whenever changes are made by the client, I always read it again, which puts me up to 6-8(or more) times for some works.
Hence why I've passed on some decent projects. The writing can be good, the typos non-existent, but if I can't force myself through it the second time, it's not for me.
Once the manuscript is clear of typos and such, we put it into a standard format (although some editors will want the formating changed) with our information.
3. Ah, yes, the part you were wanting me to get to---submitting;)
Before we even talk to a potential client, we have worked up a short list of editors that would be perfect for the project. The names may change (one editor might be holding another client's work). Once we sign the client, we pitch.
Works that are closer to a general category and might fit with many editors, we will generally pitch to 1-2 editors at a time, wait for a response, then move on to the next 1-2 editors.
For something more genre-specific (mystery, Literary thriller), we'll start by pitching 3 editors (4 if one is a mail only editor), wait for responses, then go from there.
Response times can vary. Some responses come back the same day asking for the full or passing on the project, other times(especially via post) responses can take 3-4 months, or never (hence why we like e-mailing).
Follow ups on pitches.
If we've pitched an editor, but haven't received a response via e-mail, we generally wait a few days before following up (this is either done by e-mail or a quick call). With the holiday, the follow up is longer since some editors might have been gone, or on their way out, when we e-mailed. Let's just say that January 2nd is going to be our busiest day yet;)
We print updated client submission reports and editor (sorted by genres) databases every other week (please hold the booing and hissing, we use old subs for this, then recycle). These reports tell us everything we need to know--who's holding a full manuscript, which client we've subbed to that editor, the month, contact info, etc. I am particularly anal about my databases (No one touches my databases!).
We run through our print outs, highlight the editors who have yet to respond, then put them on a follow up list for those 2 weeks. Add to that the new submissions coming in (writers wanting us to represent them), new clients we're pitching for the first time, full requests we're following up on or filling, editing, contract negotiations and offers and client e-mail (oh my, I'm getting dizzy) and you'll see why agents are such busy little beavers.
Follow ups on editors holding full submissions.
The time varies for this as well. Some editors (not likely) will give you a timeline as to when they'll respond, sometimes an editor has read it but wants us to make changes or to fix an issue. Some editors are busier than others, have a full workload or a crash project, while others are free as birds (well, not usually lol).
Notice how I don't mention a specific here. That's because there never is one. Fast, slow, depends on the editor, so how often we follow up on a project depends on: the editor, the timeliness of the project (is it sitting with another editor?), and how long the editor's had it to start.
Well, that's all for today, my little beasties. Certainly much more that goes into it, but this may give you some insight as to why you receive that pathetic form rejection from some agents (like us, I say with a guilty conscious).