Observing the past few posts about busy agents and the responses we’ve received, I felt the need to address this same topic of an agent’s workload. Jessica detailed all of the responsibilities that come first in our job: the obligations to our clients. Something I don’t think we’ve addressed quite enough is the enormous volume of submissions and queries we receive every day.
Honestly, I just think it’s hard to conceptualize without sitting in our offices and experiencing it for yourselves. (I know . . . you’re all playing your tiny, invisible violins for us right now.) There’s really no other business that’s comparable. Real estate agents don’t receive hundreds of requests from home owners to sell their homes on a weekly basis. The sheer volume of potential clients pales in comparison to most other industries. And think about how long it takes you to read a book. Even if you can read a book a day, how do you keep up with a mailbox full of manuscripts, proposals, letters and the hundreds of e-mails that come in every 24 hours. Not only do you have to read the books and letters, but you have to make a decision about them, perhaps research the competition, and then compose the proper correspondence. Pretty soon you find that you have to read every night and every weekend, even if you’d rather be finding out if Pam’s going to choose Jim over that lunkhead fiance of hers on The Office that night. Still, with all that extra homework you’ve been doing, it soon becomes clear that you can’t keep up.
Does this mean you’ve grown tired of reading fresh new voices or have become jaded by the whole process? Absolutely not! Even the almost-but-not-quite-there manuscripts energize me. But does the constant backlog stress me out? ABSOLUTELY. Just as I’m sure the author’s frustrated and anxious about what my answer is going to be, I’m frustrated and anxious about the fact that I haven’t given them an answer yet.
So what’s the alternative? One comment suggested that we stop taking submissions for a while. Well, to be honest, there aren’t a whole lot of growing, reputable agencies out there who ARE taking on new authors. It seems a shame to make this group even smaller. As I’ve pointed out, we ARE still reading. We are constantly taking on new clients. In fact, I just sold a mystery series from an author that I signed just a few weeks ago.
As current clients sell and work on their contracted works, we find more time to take on new projects, and BookEnds continues to grow. If we ever get to the point where there’s no more room to grow, we’ll certainly let you know. But for now, we just thank you for your patience.