By Tamela Hancock Murray
I’m always open to submissions and new clients. Now, does this mean I’m open to reading entire unpublished books on every and any topic? Or that I hope to sign five new clients every week? No. I still need the submissions to be marketable to the publishers I work with, and for you to want to work with me.
There are a lot of good reasons to put a temporary halt to submissions. However, I’ve witnessed confusion concerning moratoriums. It seems as though half of all authors don’t find out about a moratorium until about three months after it’s in effect. Then, when you feel comfortable taking submissions again, the other half don’t seem to get this news.
I view setting a moratorium as a possible loss. If I tell you not to send your submission when the time is right for you, I miss the chance to review it. For this reason, I have never put a moratorium on submissions.
Another way to stem the tide is to limit submissions to authors you’ve met in person or are recommended by clients. I have met many wonderful authors at ACFW conferences and have been pleased to receive recommendations from clients.
But limiting submissions with this guideline means that an author who can’t afford to go to a conference, or who has too many family obligations to travel, has limited potential to be seen. As for getting a client to recommend you to a publisher or agent? Establishing that type of relationship takes time. Even then, it may not happen because most authors don’t want to abuse the privilege of recommending their friends to agents and publishers.
I don’t mind hearing from authors I don’t know. Perhaps I’m sympathetic because I broke in to the industry as a writer who had never been to a conference. As for travel, when my girls were younger, our Christian school didn’t have bus service, so I drove to and from school twice a day – one year, three times a day – thanks to half-day kindergarten. If I did travel, my husband covered me by taking off from his job.
Though I’m past these intense obligations now, I remember what it was like. I want to give authors in similar circumstances a hearing.
I’ve seen guidelines such as, “We consider submissions only during the month of January.”
When I was still writing books and articles for publication, invariably, I’d finished my work on February 2.
Once when I did wait to submit, I was told before the season even opened that they were already full. After that, seasonal guidelines always drove me to find other publishers.
No End in Sight
Does being open to submissions all the time mean extra work? Absolutely.
Does it mean wasting some time? Probably.
But as a literary agent who plans to participate in the industry for the foreseeable future, I don’t mind extra work to connect with authors. So if you think we may be a good professional match, feel free to press SEND.
Tamela Hancock Murray is a literary agent with The Steve Laube Agency. She’s privileged to represent new and established authors who write to glorify the Lord. She graduated from Lynchburg College with honors in Journalism. During college she served as a Congressional intern. A later internship with the U.S. Department of State, included the responsibility of writing daily news briefs for the Secretary of State. Tamela is published in fiction and nonfiction. Her works placed on bestseller lists and she was honored with an RWA’s Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Tamela no longer writes books so she can focus on representing her authors, who appreciate her experience as a working author and an experienced agent who knows today’s market. Tamela and her husband live in Virginia and are the parents of two lovely daughters. Find Tamela on Facebook, where she is probably the only Tamela Hancock Murray, and on Twitter @Tamela_Murray.
Tamela, Excellent post, and one that explains why some agents (and publishers) close down receipt of submissions at times. Glad you’re not one of them. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for letting me know you appreciated the post, Richard!
Oh my. Thank you, Tamela. What a wonderful post! As a writer who is trying to break in (while carpooling my daughter and a great couple of boys to a Christian school every morning :)), I’ve worried about not attending conferences and missing those valuable face-to-face meetings. I hope to get there one day; but this gives me hope that until I can, all is not lost.
Thanks again and God bless you!!
Thanks for this, Tamela. Too often we writers are aware of the genre an agent will accept and the submission guidelines, but little else. It’s helpful to get a peek into one agent’s methods and the reasoning behind them. It makes you seem less scary … more approachable. 🙂
This is a great post! I’ve struggled with similar limitations to getting to a conference and I appreciate your openness with submissions! Thanks!
Thanks for you sharing, Tamela. As a writer that can’t attend the conference, this is very encouraging. I’ve been researching agencies and I’ve come across many that close the doors–and I get it. But I love that there are agents like you who don’t.
Thank you Tamela! What an encouragement as I prepare to query agents…soon! 🙂
Tamela, thank you for your wisdom. I have learned so much from you already. One of these days I will finish my novel and be reading to hit “send”. 🙂
Excellent post, Tamela. I’m so glad we’ve connected.
Hi Tamela: I’m sure that your way of practicing your Faith through your Craft has and continues to be a beacon of hope for many. As someone who is brand new to the field of writing Fiction I found your Post very informative and inspiring! Take care. Mary
Tamela, as soon as I saw the subject of this blog post in my email, I knew it was you. So far, you’re the only agent I know that keeps this mentality.
Thanks for your extra hard work and staying accessible to authors!