is it better to try and send out your novel to an agent first- or should a newbie go strtiaght to the publishing houses? what are the perks/downfalls of having an agent- and how small is the chance of getting one if you have never been published?
November 14th, 2005, 09:39 AM
If you're talking about one of the major publishing houses, an agent is not an option, it's a requirement. I do not know of any houses that still accept unsolicited mss (Del Rey used to but I think even they finally gave up on it).
Buy yourself a copy of the Writers Market (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1582973946/qid=1131979227/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl14/103-1195513-9724604?v=glance&s=books&n=507846) and search through the listings. Or better yet, get a copy of the Writers Digest Guide to Literary Agents (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1582973997/qid=1131979344/sr=2-1/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_1/103-1195513-9724604?v=glance&s=books) , get your mss in order, write a good query, and start sending them out.
November 14th, 2005, 02:26 PM
Err.... that's not quite true. Baen, DAW, Edge SF & F, G.P Putman's Sons. TOR and Bloomsbury all take unsolicited mss. And there are many more if you look hard. But be aware you will be on the slush pile. You will get read, but it will take time and your chances are slim, but pickups from the slush pile do happen. But be prepared both for a long wait and a rejection.
The same goes for agents, they have slush piles as well.;)
You need to do your research and submit. Get an up to date copy of the Writers' and Artists' Year book and plough through it.
These sites might help. Also the Bloomsbury home site has a good writers info section.
November 14th, 2005, 03:08 PM
Hint with Slush Piles. Make sure you grab the reader in the first paragraph. Your story may be great, but can be easily rejected. If you get selected from the Slush Pile. It goes to a smaller slush pile. Ha ha... Good Luck.
November 14th, 2005, 08:45 PM
I stand corrected. I didn't think anybody read unsolicited mss anymore. But still, an agent can really help you get your work ready for the market. I worked with my agent for six months doing rewrites to get it as publisher-friendly as possible. And an agent will negotiate in your best interest, will try to get you foreign rights, film rights, etc. Lots of things you can't do on your own.
November 14th, 2005, 11:55 PM
David ... did you have any short stories or novellas published before you went looking for an agent?
November 15th, 2005, 02:10 AM
No matter which way you go there is no "quick fix" and self publishing is a minefield, and you can get parted from your money quicker than anything.
November 15th, 2005, 04:00 AM
Thankfully for us folks here in the UK, Orbit still accept unsolicited manuscripts. They are one of the biggest fantasy publishers in the country, having published the likes of David Gemmel, Terry Brooks, etc..
November 15th, 2005, 09:04 AM
tracyt1800, I had a single short story published in the mid '90s in a regional mainstream publication. That was it, and had no bearing on getting an agent's interest. He said he just liked the sound of my story from the query letter. Short stories can definitely help with getting a novel published, though. I'm just not much of a short story writer.
November 15th, 2005, 09:27 AM
David is right. Short stories can help with getting a novel published. Submit some short stories to a magazine like Dragon. Don't let a few rejections get to you. "The squeaky wheel gets the grease"