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February 17th, 2005, 01:09 PM
Hi everyone, I completed my first novel in January and am gearing up for the long, arduous process of querying publishers and agents. I found this board while browsing some of the sff and fantasy book reviews on this site. There is a lot of excellent and helpful info here.

I am currently putting together my proposal for my novel. Unfortunately, the submission guidelines for this particular publisher specifically request that I tell them whether or not I've published before, and if I have an agent or not.

I am unpublished and don't have an agent (I haven't looked for one yet, but I have to submit the proposal by the end of this month to meet their deadline). Normally, I would not even include this info in a cover letter to avoid them forming a negative bias toward me before they've even read my proposal, but in this case I see no way around it. I don't have any writing credentials other than a writing award that *sounds* impressive, but was in fact won during my senior year of high school. It doesn't exactly lend me any kind of professional clout.

Does anyone here have any suggestions on how I might provide the info they ask for, yet soften the blow a little? I'm trying to avoid the scenario where someone reads the cover letter, sees the word "unpublished", and tosses it in the trash without actually looking at the rest of the proposal.

February 17th, 2005, 01:28 PM
Welcome Chipotle! I'm not really clear what you are up to -- you say the publisher has a submission deadline? Are you entering some sort of publisher's contest or something? Because usually there is no submission deadline, and hearing about that makes me kind of nervous. There are scam operations posing as publishers out there.

If the publisher allows unagented, which usually also means unpublished, writers to submit work to them, then they are not going to throw your work away when they get it. If they didn't want to read unagented works, they would simply have a policy that they didn't accept unagented works or unpublished authors for submissions. Since they don't have that policy, you don't have to worry about it.

If you had an agent, the agent would be submitting the work to the publisher, not you. Therefore, you can't hide the fact that you don't have an agent, as you are submitting the work yourself. But again, since they accept unagented submissions, that should not be a problem. If you had publication credits, the publisher would want to know this, as it means that someone professional judged your work saleable and well-done. If a publisher is willing to look at unpublished, unagented authors, however, that means they are receptive to the idea of a completely first time author. If your writing interests them, your lack of credits is not an issue.

Hope this helps, or speak up if it sounds confusing.

February 17th, 2005, 01:50 PM
Thanks for the info and the scam warning. I have heard of those contest scams before. This publisher is well-established, and they are seeking submissions as part of a new imprint being launched in 2006, hence the deadline.

You make a good point--if they are willing to look at unagented submissions from unpublished authors in the first place, then I suppose I can except to get at least a cursory look, which is all I'm concerned about. It's never fun admitting outright that I have no credentials, though!

Monty Mike
February 17th, 2005, 02:10 PM
well, firstly I'd like to say 'Welcome!', and secondly 'Good Luck'. Hope you get some good feedback ;)

February 17th, 2005, 02:19 PM
I'm supposed to be working right now, but instead I've spent the last half-hour checking this thread for replies and perusing the other parts of the forum. Thanks for the feebback, and for keeping me awake!

February 17th, 2005, 02:43 PM
Don't lose your job until you have a fat contract in hand!

February 17th, 2005, 02:47 PM
Come now, selling a novel only takes a few weeks at the most, right? RIGHT??

February 17th, 2005, 02:52 PM
Absolutely, for a shop to sell a novel only takes a couple of weeks... ;)

February 17th, 2005, 02:53 PM
Hopefully this is a big trustworthy publisher who won't try to pull a fast one, but just in case, check out SFWA's Electronic Rights Issues (http://www.sfwa.org/Beware/electronic.html) as well as the rest of the SFWA's Beware (http://www.sfwa.org/Beware/) site.

February 17th, 2005, 03:15 PM
Thanks for the warning. I would have been suspicious when I first read about it, but it's through Wizards of the Coast. If you can't trust a big name, then who can you trust?

Here's the link: