Is Your Book Good, Great, or HOT?
If you’re querying agents, you may sometimes hear that they’ve taken on new clients, while your own query or a partial sits in their inbox, seemingly ignored. You’re probably wondering… what gives?
Why do some projects sit in the inbox and take longer to get an answer, while others seem like they get jumped on right away?
Well, the truth is that your project may be good. It might even be very good or even great. But the projects agents jump on quickly are the ones that are hot.
What’s a hot project?
It’s a project the agent not only believes in, but they’re also confident they can sell it relatively quickly.
- If it’s non-fiction: it’s a fresh new idea (or a fresh angle on a common idea), has a super high felt-need and the author has a strong platform and/or an obvious media hook.
- If it’s fiction: the agent absolutely loves both the story and the writing; it has a strong hook, and is a genre that’s selling well.
With a hot project, the agent can immediately think of several editors who would like it. It doesn’t need much editing or reworking. The proposal is nicely done and doesn’t need to be rewritten. The author appears to have long-term potential. This project looks like a sure thing. It’s also likely that other agents are considering it.
Making good business decisions means we jump on hot projects. Other projects… those we like but they aren’t hot… usually have to wait until we have more time to assess them, and more carefully weigh the likelihood of selling this project and how much time it might take.
A project that’s very good (or even great in some respect) may still present challenges. The genre might be tough to sell right now. The market might already be glutted with that particular kind of book. If it’s fiction, it might show incredible potential but still need a lot of work. The agent has to weigh whether they’re able to put that kind of work into an author, or whether they need to recommend they get their writing up a notch, then come back. If it’s non-fiction, the idea and the writing might be stellar, but the author might have a small or non-existent platform, meaning a lot more work to sell it, plus a bigger chance that it won’t sell at all.
Unfortunately, you may not have total control over the factors that define the difference between very good and hot. Maybe just knowing how it works can make the process a little less mysterious. If agents and editors aren’t jumping on your query or proposal or manuscript, then for whatever reason, it’s not being perceived as hot. There may or may not be anything you can do about that, depending on what you’re writing.
Now here’s the important thing: