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Gary Wassner
April 10th, 2002, 07:46 AM
Does anyone have any great success stories to share regarding publishers and unsolicited submissions? Although a few good publishers still accept them such as Edge, Baen and Tor, I have yet to hear from an author who has achieved a positive result. It would be encouraging for us all to learn that it is still possible to have your work considered without the benefit of an agent.

James Barclay
April 10th, 2002, 08:03 AM
Going direct to the publisher was how I got published. It was three years ago now but my publisher will take unsolicitied submissions - the caveat is that there is no guaranteed turnaround time and he is bound to be more likely to read a submission from a respected agent recommending an author. After all, there are only so many hours in a day and only part of his job is finding new talent.

I'm talking about the UK here, by the way. It could well be very different in other countries but it's my impression that unsolicited MSS will get read by most UK publishers but you'll have to be prepared to wait...

Gary Wassner
April 10th, 2002, 10:12 AM
Do American authors ever publish with UK publishers and bypass the American ones? I noticed that many UK publishers of fantasy do in fact encourage unsolicited manuscripts. Can they distribute in the US? I can only imagine that the British would be more polite and less arrogant than their US counterparts.
The turn around time here is just as long. What baffles me is that many of the publishers ask for exclusive reads, yet they admit that it will take them upwards of 4 - 6 months to respond! How incredible is that?

April 10th, 2002, 05:47 PM
I quite LITERALLY walked in off the street to my first publisher. It can happen, but it's difficult.

Yeah, turn around time is ridiculous, which is where an agent can be handy. They have a little more push when the editors drag their feet.

Some authors, when they get well-known, do let the UK have first run. Because of prices, UK publishers can generally not compete, but I recall that one is trying to get its books marketed here en mass, likely of its authors who are not already snapped up by the US.

April 10th, 2002, 11:28 PM
I have had good and bad feedback from publishers.

A photocopied standard, thank you but no thank you. I take it that the "book" hasn't made it past the first glance.

A hand typed letter or e.mail, especially if they quote a ref number. I take it that the beastie has been read at least once(or looked at beyond the covering letter *g*) and is being read again, or they are thinking about reading it....

A second letter asking for the rest of the manuscript, it is being considered or they are thinking about it.

Not got any further yet!! But waiting for answers from a couple of publishers....


April 11th, 2002, 12:09 AM
The Jordan books I get in Australia are published by Orbit and they are a UK compan I think.

Anyone ever dealt with manuscript assessors as an avenue instead of agents (which I would imagine to be expensive)?

James Barclay
April 11th, 2002, 02:37 AM

From my limited knowledge I think it's unusual for US authors to first publish with UK publishers though for Canadians, it's a different matter - Steve Erikson came to the UK for a time with the express intention of getting a UK publishing deal.

UK publishers do distribute in the US but they have to go through 3rd party marketing and placement organisations and so it's not a perfect scenario. They'd far rather sell rights to a US publisher but as has been mentioned on this site before, US publishers are not great at taking on UK fantasy talent - again for SCi Fi it's a different story.

The turn around times are very long and while I do have some sympathy (my editor's personal slush pile occupies several shelves and the publisher rarely affords to employ freelance readers) I think it's outrageous that they demand exclusivity and then won't read a book for six months.

Personally, I'd say it was reasonable to tell a publisher in an approach letter that you aren't offering it exclusively for that very reason - give them the choice of reading more quickly or potentially missing out. And if they don't like it, well, they are demonstrating a fundamental lack of understanding of what it means to authors to have their work read and published - perhaps that makes them not the publisher you want.

Look at it this way. Stephen Donaldson was rejected by 41 publishers before selling the Covenant series. At six months a publisher, that makes over 20 years of waiting...

Gary Wassner
April 11th, 2002, 04:35 AM
I published my first book with iUniverse two years ago. I really did not spend any time trying to find an agent and a mainstream publisher then. I thought the entire process was arduous and an incredible waste of time. The book was well received, but without a marketing arm, iUniverse authors suffer. For my second book, I decided to stick it out and wait until I found an agent and thereby a publisher who would distribute my books. After one year with my agent, I just terminated my contract. Their responses from publishers were no more than form letters, and I realized that agents, like publishers, come in many shapes and sizes. Now that I have completed my third book, I have started to believe that unless you have a well known agent whose name on your submission will get it read by the editors, you might as well forge ahead on your own and submit to publishers who do accept manuscripts unsolicited. I am now agressively looking for a good agent. The last time, I had so little patience for the process that I signed with the first agent who made me an offer after querying only a handful.
In the interim, iUniverse seems to have recognized its own limitations. It's contract now provides the author with a non-exclusivity clause, purposely allowing their authors to pursue other publishers while still having a book to present, bound and printed, to the public. In a way, it seems like the best of both worlds. I only wish though that 'insiders' in the industry would stop judging POD books by their covers, so to speak, and give them a fair shake. Sure, some will be weak and some will be poorly edited. But, guess what? So are many that the main stream publishers put out. That's no reason to paint them all with the same brush!

June 21st, 2002, 12:10 PM
so no one on the forumhas had any success with unsolicited manuscripts with the bigger mainstream publishers?

that cant be good.

Gary Wassner
June 21st, 2002, 02:46 PM
Sometimes I wonder if they only say they accept unsolicited manuscripts. I wish I knew someone on the inside of one of these publishing houses. Then maybe we could really find out what they do and say about these packages when they arrive. It would be more than interesting to know if there is a pile of "don't take these too seriously' and another of 'read this, it came from an agent'.
I have yet to find anyone not already known who sent in a completed manuscript unsolicited and got a positive response. Are these publishers just being 'politically correct' when they agree to accept them? This probably holds true for unknown agents as well. An agent is not necessarily the answer. A well respected one with a positive track record may be though. But then again, getting one of them to represent you if you are unknown is not too different than finding a publisher in the first place. Most of the queries come back with form letters, probably unread!
This is a very strange and unusual industry!!