During a conference many authors ask , “How long do I have to submit my manuscript to you?” In other words, “Is there a time limit?”
The simple answer is, “The offer to submit to me does not expire.”
Why? Because I like to find new authors and develop, nurture, and encourage their work. My goal is to create a career for that writer. This philosophy is one of the reasons we are so choosey as an agency. We invest in an author to land that first deal, with an eye to winning future contracts.
Fiction authors often tell me that characters are knocking in their heads, begging for their stories to be told. These prolific authors have more ideas than they can spill onto a page. This is a gift. Other fiction authors may not write as fast, but quantity or speed of output is not a criteria for me. I just love working with highly creative people.
That is why I want authors to take the time they need to polish and perfect that first manuscript. As the saying goes, we have only one chance to make a first impression, and we want it to be our best. I receive conference-requested manuscripts throughout the year. We know that life interferes, or the author has made extensive revisions, or both. If you attend a workshop or receive an excellent critique, I recommend incorporating those changes into the final you send rather than hurrying to send the manuscript without the improvements.
An important note: while authors may have lots of time to hone that first manuscript, do be aware that you will need to keep the pace once you sign a contract with a publisher. When you are talking to the agent you hope to work with, let him or her know the number of books you feel you will be comfortable writing per year. If you are truly set on writing one a year, don’t feel you must push and say every six months. If your preference is for every six months, let us know. Best to be up front now than cause a scheduling conflict later. Once you earn a contract, your agent can help you work out a schedule that’s sane for you so that new deadline will feel like a reward than an oncoming train.
Did you have your manuscript critiqued at conference? Do you expect to make changes as a result?
What is the most helpful advice you received about manuscripts or proposals that you’d like to share?