The Agenting Process Explained - Part 4 - Submissions
When agents come up with a list of editors, they usually make multiple submissions of the proposal. Agents will sometimes send proposals to two or more imprints that are owned by the same parent company. However, some companies such as Doubleday and Broadway Books, which are imprints owned by Random House, both have the same editorial board. So an agent would not submit the same proposal to editors at both of those imprints. Unlike writers, agents have this special knowledge, which can save them substantial time, energy, expense and embarrassment.
Before agents send proposals to editors, they usually send them the equivalent of a query letter asking if they might be interested in the book. Queries are sent only when the proposal is ready. Queries can be sent via e-mail or hard copy, depending on the nature of the book and the editor’s preference. Editors expect that other editors will have received the proposal and will usually move more quickly on those that elicit their interest. To entice editors and generate more interest in a proposal, agents will tell editors when other editors are interested in a property.
When a proposal includes items such as a self-published edition of the book, illustrations or artwork, they must be submitted in hard copy. Hard-copy submissions are accompanied by a short cover letter that itemizes all materials sent. Sometimes, agents will set time limits in which editors must make offers. When proposals are submitted by e-mail, the cover letter includes a link to the proposal that editors can download. They can also request a hard copy that can be forwarded under separate cover.
Editors are swamped, and it’s a challenge for them to read everything they receive. If they’re interested, they usually get back to the agent quickly, within a week or two. Many editors have their assistants screen submissions, so if their assistants like a proposal, it may speed up their response time. If editors don’t get back to an agent within a week or two, it usually means that the book is not going to sell.
An excerpt from the National Bestseller Author 101: Bestelling Secrets from Top Agents by Rick Frishman and Robyn Freedman Spizman