Holiday Season in the Query Trenches

Hello to whoever is reading this! It’s the most wonderful time of the year again once more. The air is colder, the people are friendlier, and families are coming together – in some form or another. We all know this year has been crazy and the holiday season this time around is going to be extraordinarily different as compared to all of the years we’ve had. Let’s put it this way, we’re all doing the best we can to make the most out of this holiday season.

So, with this in mind, I want to dive into the topic of the day which is currently spending your holiday season in the querying trenches.

Holiday Breaks

Around this time of the year is when most writers (who work other jobs) begin to have a few days off, hell sometimes even a little more than a week. This allows a writer to either finish polishing up their manuscript that they’ve been chafing at the bit to finish or they are able to clean up their submission materials i.e. query letter and opening pages. With all of this in mind, writers finish their work to perfect and immediately want to begin either diving into the querying trenches or continue digging their way through.

However, as most writer begin their much needed break from their regular 9-5 jobs, as do literary agents and publishers. Much like most writers, most literary agents too, have another job. Hell, some even have three or more jobs in order to make ends meet. Agents, to put it frank, bust their a**es to find amazing stories like yours but it’s not that easy. Most agents once finding that perfect story, then have to read through and either make suggestions/edits wherever needed, get your book ready to go out on submission, get contracts ready and in order, continue to follow up and through with writers/publishers, the list goes on. Then, what sucks even more is these agents don’t get paid until you, the writer, does. Now, don’t get me wrong, all agents know this before signing on to become a literary agent so they don’t complain, but just imagine they do all of this work and then their other jobs to make ends meet. Because of all of this time being exuded into many different aspects of their life (not even including their personal life) their query piles and requests piles stack up leaving them with this overflow of work which is why most agents and some agencies tend to close for the holiday season through to the new year.

Now, why am I saying all of this? Because it helps to put some things in perspective for those that may be confused, annoyed, or upset that their dream agent has closed for the next few months. In all honesty, as hard as it may be to do so, think of this as a blessing in disguise that your dream agents/agencies closed for submissions! Why?! Because when they come back, they will have more time to dedicate to each query and maybe your manuscript that is near perfect but needs a little bit more love will be allowed that extra attention from an agent that maybe couldn’t give it the love before because of his/her jam-packed schedule. So, let’s go over a quick list of benefits for agents closing for the holiday season and how you can pass the time until they all open again!

1. Read, Revise, Repeat

Exactly what the title says, read, revise, and repeat! Read your manuscript or query letter – hell, read it to someone else and see if it makes sense or have somebody else read it and give you feedback. Revise your manuscript, query letter, submission materials wherever possible or necessary. Finally, repeat this process! You have plenty of time before many agents begin opening back up again for submissions so make this time count. Perfect everything wherever necessary and do not rush!

2. Ask A Friend

While you’re waiting for agents to open back up, why not ask somebody to glance over your materials? It doesn’t matter if it’s a friend, a stranger, or somebody from one of your writing groups – ask them for some outside perspective. Hell, ask me if you want to, my messages on here and DMs on Twitter are always open. It doesn’t hurt to get some outside opinions – this can open up your eyes to edits that you may have missed or it may spark some new ideas!

3. Get Ready for Twitter Pitches

While you are revising your materials, also start getting any future pitches ready for the new year! I will be posting an article with links and dates to Twitter Pitch Events for 2020-2021 very soon, just trying to gather as many links and information as I can. However, here are some pitch events coming up soon: The #IWSGpit (The Insecure Writers Support Group) this event will be on January 20th, 2021 – check out the rules here: ISWG. The #SFFPit which will be happening on February 3rd, 2021 – check out the rules here: SFFPit. Again, I will post more on another article that I will link at the bottom once I finish it. Remember to refine these pitches and send them to a friend, a fellow writer, or even participate in possible practice days. Remember, your goal is to hook your reader! I mention a few tips in this article here for you to review when prepping your pitches: Tips for PitMad – Twitter Pitch Event.

4. Start A New Manuscript

Maybe you’ve perfected everything – your manuscript, your query letter, your opening pages, your pitches, and everything else you can think of so now you’re just waiting for agents to open back up. You maybe wondering, how the hell do you pass the time? Well, it’s easy. Start a new manuscript. Dive into something new and exciting that triggers your creativity, maybe break out of your comfort zone and try writing a different type of genre – this can continually spark new ideas. Set yourself goals through this winter break, just because NaNoWriMo is over doesn’t mean it has to be in your head! Give yourself a new deadline, make a fun challenge out of it, just don’t stop writing!

5. Read A Book

As I’m sure most agents and writers are spending their holidays, take this opportunity to curl up with a new book! Read something completely different and new! Don’t re-read the same books repeatedly like I used to! There are so many amazing new stories in the world, get ready to dive in! This again can also inspire a new sense of creativity within you and help to develop your writing/story-telling skills!

6. Enjoy the Holidays

Easier said than done for some already and definitely most now as a lot of us are cut off from our family for fear of our loved one’s safety. Do your best to sit back, relax, and enjoy the holidays as much as you possibly can. A few creative ways to distract the brain and have fun are to make Christmas cookies, paint something for the holidays to hang around your house – use a stencil on a piece of wood or canvas like I am! Watch some Christmas movies! Most importantly, treat yourself! I don’t care if all you have in your house are presents from you to you, wrap them up anyways so you have something to place under your tree and open on Christmas day!

I hope this quick list and insight was helpful! Remember to enjoy your breaks and much needed time off! I want to note as well that it is OKAY to do NOTHING this holiday break! This list is for my over-anxious writers who may be feeling a bit impatient and need to distract and stop themselves from sending query letter’s to agents who have stated that they are already closed. Writers are incredibly passionate with amazing stories and literary agents know this – that is why they chose to dive into this field. Remember to be patient and that your YES is coming very soon!

If anybody needs another set of eyes to look over your materials feel free to reach out to me! I would be more than happy to help, especially around this holiday season! I wish you all a very happy, healthy, safe, joyous, and Merry Christmas and if I don’t post anything on here in the meantime, then a happy new year as well!

Amanda Badillo

Here is also a link to my Fiverr: Opening Pages Gig and Query Letter Gig

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