RSS Feed Print
Querying Publishers Directly: Yes? No?
Posted: Thursday, March 17, 2011 9:14 PM
Joined: 3/16/2011
Posts: 216

When I went to my RWA meeting, one thing that struck me during the roundtable author discussion was how many of them acquired agent representation *after* they'd already submitted to a publishing house and received an offer.

It could be that romance writers have more success at this, I cannot say. What do the rest of you think? Is it a good idea to query publishers directly? I would have never thought to do it until I heard others' success stories.

Posted: Friday, March 18, 2011 3:13 PM
Joined: 3/14/2011
Posts: 15

What type of publisher would be my question. There are several small publishinghouses that don't require an agent to submit. If they are published with them and then get an agent (for the same project?) I don't see how that woukld help them- but if they get an agent offer for a different book using thier small press creds, I can see that.

In General most larger publishing houses will not accept unsolicited MSs.
Posted: Friday, March 18, 2011 5:21 PM
Joined: 3/11/2011
Posts: 157

Romance sometimes works a bit differently than other genres. Any romance author can submit directly to Harlequin and other romance publishers without an agent. So a lot of romance writers are published before they look for an agent or even work self-represented. This works mainly because romance sells quickly and Harlequin actively seeks new writers.

There are a few major publishers for other genres who will accept direct submissions. Tor is one. However the fantasy writers I know report they haven't had much luck without an agent.

As for which is best, I think you'd need to do some research in your genre and make that decision. But if you submit without an agent, be prepared to carry through on accepting or declining that offer without an agent.

Posted: Friday, March 18, 2011 9:48 PM
Joined: 3/16/2011
Posts: 216

Marie, I sort of suspected that romance might be an exception to the rule, as many of these authors got offers from Harlequin, Silhouette, etc.

I rocked IP law, so negotiating my own contract would not be particularly problematic. I'm wondering if this might not be the acceptable route to take, given that I do write romance. I would have never considered it, had other writers not shared their experience.

Of course, they did procure agents after they received an offer.
Posted: Saturday, March 19, 2011 5:32 PM
Joined: 3/11/2011
Posts: 157

For the more "category" romances, many publishers offer fairly standard contract packages which don't vary much even with an agent. So there are plenty of self-represented romance authors. It's perfectly acceptable in romance and some authors don't seek agents unless they feel they have a larger project that needs an agent.

The one aspect I'd caution on is the advice I see that if you get a book deal on your own, you can then turn around and get an agent to negotiate it for you. Yes, this can happen. But it's not the best method to use. If you want an agent, do them the favor of submitting to them before you submit to a publisher. The reason being that the agent can do a better job negotiating if they handle the work from the beginning. Yes, they can jump in midway, but that actually handicaps them since the publisher knows they have the author on the hook.

I have a friend who had a fantasy novel accepted by a publisher right at the same time she found an agent. The agent had her refuse the offer because she wanted to negotiate a better deal. A year down the road, no one has made an offer on the book. Having a publishing deal and then throwing an agent in the mix after the offer is made, doesn't automatically mean a better deal.
Mahesh Raj Mohan
Posted: Friday, March 25, 2011 11:06 PM
Joined: 2/28/2011
Posts: 60

In 2001, I sent a query package to Eos (or what it was before it became Eos) and got a request for a full manuscript from Devi Pillai, who was then assistant to Jennifer Brehl (she's now at Orbit). That was when they accepted unagented mss, not sure if that's the case with Eos now.

I think Daw and Pyr might be the only ones that accept unagented mss for SF and Fantasy.
Posted: Wednesday, March 30, 2011 9:14 PM
Joined: 3/11/2011
Posts: 157

I've heard Tor will take unagented mss or at least they used to. But that you're better off with them if you have an agent.
Posted: Sunday, April 3, 2011 3:56 AM
Joined: 4/3/2011
Posts: 8

I think there is a difference in the romance community. Sourcebooks takes unagented submissions. Avon, Five Star, St. Martins, and Kensington will accept unagented queries. Avalon and Berkley will take queries with a synopsis. TOR takes synopsis and 3 chapters - they don't want a query. You need to double check with some of these because the info does change, but it's a start. I think that you're better off with any of them if you have an agent. Otherwise, you truly are part of the slush pile and people will get to you when they get to you.
Posted: Monday, April 4, 2011 1:11 PM
Joined: 3/11/2011
Posts: 157

Five Star Publishing was doing something tricky with advances two or three years ago that had all the pro-writer groups dropping them as an approved publisher for pro standing. I don't know if they're still up to it, but since then I've been wary of them. Also - don't sub to Dorchester under any circumstances. They're so far under water that some authors have been paid royalties for years now.
Posted: Friday, November 25, 2011 2:55 PM
Joined: 7/18/2011
Posts: 25

In my experience with agents, the right agent can be a good tool not just for getting your submission past the guards, but also in getting you through the entire process. I've seen agents who really care about the work they're promoting who pow-wow with the writer before the writer goes into interviews. Practicing the interview with them, anticipating what topics the publisher may broach, and psyching the writer up.

Though, if you have an agent that's not passionate about you or your project, it may be a completely different experience.

Posted: Sunday, August 30, 2015 8:57 AM
Joined: 2/14/2015
Posts: 16

Jumping into this convo a few (years!) late BUT I am considering submitting a thriller novel directly to some publishers now that it's road ready (polished, synopsis/back cover copy done) but am having some trouble finding decent-sized publishers taking direct submissions.
Charles J. Barone
Posted: Sunday, August 30, 2015 4:13 PM
Joined: 7/18/2014
Posts: 120

Tor still takes unagented work, and they're now accepting novellas up to 40K length or 'slightly higher count,' for their new epublishing/POD endeavor. 


I read the criteria closely and my type of work is borderline acceptable. Depending on who reads it at Tor, it may or may not qualify.


As for advances, they have a couple of options. Do you want to take a high advance against future royalties or a lower advance with quarterly royalty payments? This is where an agent's knowledge can be helpful.


Jump to different Forum...