Not Accepting Queries Until Further Notice

“When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.”

I’ve been reassessing my client list and workload lately, and have had to make some tough decisions. I’ve decided to stop accepting queries until further notice. This could be two months or it could be the rest of the year.

It’s imperative that I take good care of the clients I already have, and the constant barrage of possible new clients threatens to distract me from this goal. The need to respond to them steals time I could be using to service my clients. Right now, I’m unlikely to take on any new clients; therefore, it seems best to avoid giving writers unrealistic expectations by taking their queries.

I will consider the queries I already have, as well as referrals from people I know (authors, agents and editors in the business). I’m also attending two writers’ conferences this fall, and will give strong consideration to the writers I meet there:

American Christian Fiction Writers, September 17-20 in Indianapolis

South Carolina Writers’ Workshop, October 22-24 in Myrtle Beach

So until further notice, I won’t accept queries beyond today. I still have a lot of queries in my box awaiting my response, so if you’ve sent one, please be patient.

Q4U: What hard choices have you had to make in order to maintain your quality of life and do well at your most important jobs?

P.S. In case you’re wondering – yes, blogging, teaching webinars and attending conferences also take up my time. I’ve decided that for various reasons, those are important to keep in my schedule, so I’m making changes in other areas.

(c) 2010 Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


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  3. Mrs. Skinny Con Leche' on August 25, 2010 at 11:47 AM

    >Anonymous, I humbly disagree with you. Having recently taken Rachelle’s webinar, which cost less than a facial and was more cleansing than a high colonic, I must tell you neither her blog or her offer of private feedback cast a publication spell on me.
    No So Much!
    As a writer and an adult any decision to be in your words, “taken advantage of” rests solely with me and not someone else providing a service I participate in. As a social worker I respect your opinion, it’s a part of my job description, but whether coming from an agent, a psychologist, a personal trainer, or a parent giving advice or direction; it is the responsibility of the person on the receiving end to absorb and assimilate that information into success or failure. I’ve raised a house filled with sons and some got it…and one is still shopping in my pantry and living under the victim star…As my non-social worker husband liked to remind our boys, “Life’s not fair…a fair is where you buy cotton candy from clowns! Ya see any clowns around here?”
    Blessed Writing to all!

  4. Anonymous on August 24, 2010 at 11:14 PM

    >You make a living as an agent. Running 'webinars' where you solicit unpublished authors, offer them private feedback and hint that you may request partials is unethical to the extreme. What evidence shows that your webinars result in a higher chance for publication? How can you justify charging such a high fee without any evidence that your advice pays off? You are taking advantage of your position and your job title to make money off of your readers.

  5. Mischia on August 24, 2010 at 9:38 PM

    >Praying for you as you dig yourself out.

  6. Rachelle on August 24, 2010 at 10:02 AM

    >Anon 11:57 pm: Yes, my blog and my webinars are important elements in my overall business plan – smart of you to notice! I'm not in this business as a hobby, it's a career. You might note, however, that I'd been blogging for four years before I ever did a webinar. I've also been teaching at conferences since 2003, an activity that is never financially profitable in the short run, but does serve me in the long run if I happen to pick up a new client from the conference. In any case, this is a business and I'm running it in such a way as to try and be helpful and encouraging to the writing community while also making a living.

  7. Ali Liddell on August 24, 2010 at 9:17 AM

    >Oh, yes, Anonymous, how dare Rachelle make a living with her work! Why that would be…sensible.

    I'm glad to see that most of the readers on here are supportive of this choice – it's smart to focus on what you really need to do, as opposed to all the many things we all say "yes" to without thinking, then come to regret, and either do poorly or have them take away from other things that need our attention.

    On some other blogs, agents have announced they are taking time off and some commenter always pipes up that the agent is going to miss (their) one-in-a-million-query. These writers don't get it. Out of the chaff, there are some good books – but there are STILL more of them than any agent can ever represent. Agents are not going begging for good projects, and anyone who closes to queries is going to have no problem finding more good projects when they open back up again.

  8. Anonymous on August 24, 2010 at 12:57 AM

    >You are continuing your webinars, for which you charge money, and your blogging, from which you find people for your webinars?

    Yes, we can see there are 'various reasons' to continue those activities.

  9. Julie Evans on August 23, 2010 at 11:25 PM


  10. Leigh D'Ansey on August 23, 2010 at 10:42 PM

    >I think you've made a wise choice.

    I'll continue returning to your blog even though I don't write inspirational fiction. You write an inspirational blog!

  11. Krista Phillips on August 23, 2010 at 9:58 PM

    >I totally understand. I've put writing on the back burner for a few months due to pregnancy and my daughters heart condition, but I'm slowly starting back with a little editing… a little writing… entering a few contests. Just baby steps to wet my appetite and start to get back in the groove.

    So yeah, my most important job is being a Mom. More important than my day job, and more important than writing.

  12. Diane Marie Shaw on August 23, 2010 at 9:52 PM

    >Thank you for continuing to post and teach us even with your busy schedule.
    Your clients must feel very cherished that you care so much about them to put them at the top of your priority list.
    Hope you feel you will be getting on top of things quickly.

  13. Jessica Nelson on August 23, 2010 at 7:57 PM

    >Wow, this BUMS me out. Totally understand though. I've been training for a new job so my writing, blogging and cleaning have all gone down the toilet. I hope you catch up and thanks for sharing the news with us. 🙂

  14. Rachelle on August 23, 2010 at 7:38 PM

    >Anon 6:29: If it's a trend, it's because there have never been higher numbers of queries coming in the door, and agents have to either draw the line somewhere, or they simply don't read them all. I've been around a long time too, and it's obvious that the fact that everyone has a computer and email access means everyone who ever thought "Someday I'll write a book" is now writing it and querying agents.

  15. Anonymous on August 23, 2010 at 7:29 PM

    >Wow…wonder if this is a trend of some sort. Seems to be happening a lot lately. And I've been around for a long, long time.

  16. Pam Halter on August 23, 2010 at 7:08 PM

    >Breaks are good. When my daughter asked me years ago why my husband and I took time to go out by ourselves, I said, because it makes us better mommies and daddies.

    I've had to cut down on the blogs I participate in. While I still read many blogs, I've only been lurking. It saves time.

    I'm also considering the time I spend babysitting my grandchildren. While I love them and enjoy having them around, it sure takes up time I could be writing. For the moment, I've decided to take some evenings away from my family to complete my novel. After that, I'll evaluate things.

  17. MJR on August 23, 2010 at 7:03 PM

    >I recently lost my job due to economy and the rise of ereaders etc (I worked for a book printer). It has forced me to prioritize and figure out what I can and can't afford, what I have time to do, etc. The one thing that surprised me was that I do not want to give up my gym membership. Losing weight and being healthy are my #1 priorities. That's my job right now–being a gym rat! At least until I find another job…

  18. Beth on August 23, 2010 at 4:53 PM

    >Honestly, I don't know how agents do it, Rachelle. I spent the end of December, all of January, and part of February researching publishers, trying to find matches for my humorous PB manuscripts so I could revise my submission plans for them. It took tons of time, and I was my only client, so to speak. I can't imagine what it's like when you represent lots of writers and the manuscripts are LONG. (Not that good PB writing is easy, but at least it takes less time for someone to read.)

    This year my hard choice came because I home school, and we're on our final year for my senior twins. I don't want to short them out of a good year academically, and there are sizable tomes for teacher as well as student to read and study, so I simply had to shut down my writing shop for two weeks to get us established in a routine. Now I'm working it back in again in small areas.

    I think it's okay to admit you're human and have a work capacity. Make choices, stand by them, and don't feel guilty. We all have to adjust to seasons in our lives.

  19. Wendy Delfosse on August 23, 2010 at 3:46 PM

    >I can't say I'm surprised. Once you'd said your client roster was full on twitter queries just don't make a whole lot of sense. You're doing a wise thing for the clients you do have. I am glad you'll keep on blogging though. I appreciate all the advice you've given & I'm glad that will continue!

  20. Beth Mann on August 23, 2010 at 3:18 PM

    >As long as you're not leaving us entirely, then I think we'll all be fine 🙂

    P.S. I also take solace in the fact that I'll actually be seeing you in South Carolina in October! 🙂

  21. Phoebe on August 23, 2010 at 3:12 PM

    >Q4U: What hard choices have you had to make in order to maintain your quality of life and do well at your most important jobs?

    This is an oddly relevant question for me; I turned down a full-time, benefited job this morning so that I could continue working part time from home and have more time to write. This means sacrificing a few thousand dollars a year, and buying my own health insurance, but, I suspect, will make me much, much happier.

  22. themotherlode on August 23, 2010 at 1:15 PM

    >Rachelle- I commend you on what must have been a tough decision. And I'm glad blogging remains on your to-do list!

  23. Teenage Bride on August 23, 2010 at 1:13 PM

    >I admire your time management skills and your ability to prioritize, if I could be half as brilliant as you in these areas, I would be content.

  24. Tessa Quin on August 23, 2010 at 12:48 PM

    >Simple: Quit my job and go back to uni 🙂

    Times are tough in Iceland these days, so job opportunities are few. I finally realized that I wanted to become an author, so I'm going to get a BA in English to help me along the way. I know from my previous uni education that I'll have time on the side to write – as opposed to when I work and come exhausted home after a long day.

    If the author dream won't be realized (but it will!), I can always try to market myself on the internet for editing, or even translations.

  25. Shmologna on August 23, 2010 at 12:02 PM

    >May God help you make the most of this "non-submission" time. And may you see, clearly, the next steps you should take in organzing your job responsibilities. I'm sure you are bombarded more than we can ever know. Just look at the number of followers you have!


  26. Kathi Lipp on August 23, 2010 at 11:00 AM

    >I know that someone is going to come on here and give you a smack down for doing blog post when you should be doing something more important – like reading their query. Don't listen to the haters!

    The hard choice I've had to make? Not working for free – unless I know it is something that God has really put on my heart. I was watching bad reality TV last week and Rachel Zoe's husband said, "Rachel says yes to everyone but me." I don't want the ones I love to feel that.

  27. Brandi Schmidt on August 23, 2010 at 10:47 AM

    >Good Luck! It's dificult to put things on hold, I have a hard time not trying to do EVERYTHING.

    Will you be responding to any full/partial MS you have requested?

  28. Anonymous on August 23, 2010 at 10:35 AM

    >I wish more agents would take breaks, giving them time to respond to requested mss. Can't figure out why they keep accepting queries when they're full up and take on maybe one or two clients a year…if most queries are SO bad, then what's the point?

  29. Erin MacPherson on August 23, 2010 at 10:22 AM

    >Hi Rachelle- That must have been a REALLY tough decision for you as I know you have a passion for finding new authors and seeing new work. But I understand that balance is key and I really respect the fact that you're willing to cut back in order to do the best job that you can. Good luck! And now that I know you're going to those writer's conferences, I'm going to look into plane tickets… I'd LOVE to meet you!

  30. Anonymous on August 23, 2010 at 10:22 AM

    >Be interesting to see how many people hang around. I will. I like your blog. But I'm not hawking a book and trying to get representation.

    Best Wishes.

  31. Rachelle on August 23, 2010 at 10:13 AM

    >T. Anne and others who wonder… people always ask this whenever I say anything about being overloaded. The answer is YES, we have both an assistant and an intern, and they're both very valuable members of our team.

    However, we often have them doing more important client-based work rather than reading queries. In addition, there is no point having them spend time on queries when acquiring new clients isn't my highest priority at the moment.

    Just as I have to spend my time on my biggest priorities, I also have to make sure our whole staff is doing the same. The fact that someone's an intern doesn't make it any more wise to have them spend time on low priority tasks.

  32. T. Anne on August 23, 2010 at 10:04 AM

    >Sounds practical. Have you considered an intern to wade through queries for you in the future? That way instead of going through 50 plus queries in a sitting you might have only two or three very spectacular ones forwarded? *Oddly, this happens to be the topic of my blog post today.* Have a great day!

  33. sharonbially on August 23, 2010 at 9:39 AM

    >Good for you, Rachelle. It seems nowadays everybody's running themselves ragged to "do it all," at the price of quality. Sounds like you've made the right choice. You are certainly setting a setting a great example.

  34. June G on August 23, 2010 at 8:29 AM

    >Well, let's face it. There are only 24 hours in one day and one person can only do so much. You have to have the time available to service your clients or what is the point of the whole thing.

    A very logical and reasonable decision. One I'm sure those seeking your services would appreciate if they were on the other side of the fence and on your client roster.

  35. Author Sandra D. Bricker on August 23, 2010 at 8:11 AM

    >I know this decision was not made lightly. One of the (many) best things about you is how much ownership you take for the well being of your clients. I'm blessed to be one of them.

  36. Susan Bourgeois on August 23, 2010 at 7:40 AM

    >I think reassessing your workload makes a great deal of sense.

    I think all of us should take a step back every now and then and try to prioritize our lives.

    We're only capable of doing a certain amount of things properly, so we need to figure out what's most important.

  37. kathy taylor on August 23, 2010 at 7:09 AM

    >I think you've made a good choice.

  38. Wendy Paine Miller on August 23, 2010 at 6:51 AM

    >Another reason I respect you.

    Hmm. Hard decisions. I had to pass on attending the Festival of Faith and Writing last spring. I'd registered, but it came on the heels of losing a loved one. The timing threw me. Excruciating, deciding not to go. Conference facilitators were wonderful. Still…a hard decision.

    Enjoy pouring into your clients.
    ~ Wendy

  39. R.S. Bohn on August 23, 2010 at 6:47 AM

    >I'm glad you came to this decision and told us frankly. I know it wasn't made lightly.

    I own my own business. I could work day and night, and drive pretty far for my clients. Instead, I began weeding out clients in January of this year. I made firm boundaries on my time and the geographic distance I'll cover, and I'm sticking to it, no apologies. This meant I could no longer service some clients.

    I've found I am much, much happier when I get up in the morning and look at my schedule for the week ahead.

    In my "second job," writing, I took another approach, also earlier this year. I stopped answering comments to my journal/blog, I stopped all the extensive editing/critiquing I was doing for others, and I cut down on email. This made quite a number of people very unhappy with me, but looking back over the past eight months, it's been well worth it. And in the process, I've found who my friends really are.

    Life is better now than it was in January.

  40. Sue Harrison on August 23, 2010 at 6:40 AM

    >I think you very wise, Rachelle. Sometimes our choices break our hearts. I had to choose between my writing career and caring for my mother-in-law who had Alzheimer's. It was a very long and difficult 5 years, but very rewarding. My mother-in-law's smile will live with me forever.

  41. Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur on August 23, 2010 at 6:38 AM

    >I am a new reader, but have been enjoying your blog and learning from it. Thank you for the time you take to blog and best of luck to you in all your endeavors.

  42. KO on August 23, 2010 at 6:37 AM

    >Yay for taking breaks when needed.

    Hard choice for me to maintain quality of life: starting to say "no", instead of saying "yes" automatically to everything.

  43. Micah Maddox on August 23, 2010 at 4:17 AM

    >Congratulations on a complete client roster, and thank you for the time you invest in your blog.

  44. CFD Trade on August 23, 2010 at 4:15 AM

    >Now, that will break a lot of hearts out there…

  45. Eden on August 23, 2010 at 3:47 AM

    >You have to make choices that make you feel you're taking care of your clients, and doing what is best for them–and you!

    I probably won't be submitting for the next year or so anyways, but I like learning the biz from your blog!

    I've had the difficult time, many times over the past ten years, having to let unhealthy relationships go, and accepting the blame for being various epithets for responsible.

    I also have learned that I need to not push myself too hard physically, and have learned to listen to troubled parts of my body when they tell me to take a day or night off. It's hard being fragile at the ripe age of 20. I should be able to dance all night still!

  46. Jo on August 23, 2010 at 2:49 AM

    >I agree with Marja above, as long as I still see your blog appear on my dashboard, I'm happy too. Dealing with a WIP (article, I'm a freelance journalist and submit to magazines at this stage) and four query letters and starting a pitch for an editor who has written back (not included in the four mentioned) I've had to make the difficult decision not to reply to my blog comments, unless I have a moment later in the evening. I try to visit other blogs instead and reply to them there. I have e-mail contact with many blogger friends so that also takes precedence. Have a blessed day, my friend and enjoy the clients and queries you have now. I hope to become one of yours in the future! Jo (Khartoum, Sudan)

  47. Marja on August 23, 2010 at 1:07 AM

    >As long as you keep posting…. we're happy 🙂