Dramaquill's All Things Writing

February 22, 2008

Agent or Publisher

New authors face the big “catch-22” scenerio when they begin subbing out their manuscripts.  Should they try to get an agent first, or go straight to the publishers?

What’s the catch-22?

Well known agents are most likely interested in established writers whose works (and even name) can guarantee good book sales.  Big name publishers don’t usually accept unagented authors.

So what’s a newbie to do?

Think small!

Although it would be nice to land your first book with Harper Collins or Penguin Putnam, the likelihood of that happening for an unknown author is slim.  (I’m sure we could all find case scenerios where it HAS happened, but it’s not the norm.)

The newbie author would do well to search through the guidelines in the Writer’s Markets books, available at most bookstores and also online at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.  There’s a general book filled with resources in every genre from magazines to books to plays.  The series also has separate volumes for poets, novelists, children’s writers and more.

Now zone in on some of the smaller publishing houses.  Yes, they accept and publish fewer books each year than the big guys, but they are also very open to working with newbie authors.  One of the writers in my online critique group pitched her MG novel to the editor at Bloomingtree Press and her first book will come out next year.

If you’re really set on getting an agent, one great way to make some connections is by going to writers’ conferences.  Participants can set up “face-to-face” meetings with editors and agents, often resulting in being asked to submit some of their work. 

The agent versus publisher dilemma has long plagued new authors and in the end, the decision is yours when it comes to which route you want to explore. 

Either way, make sure that your book is as polished and unique as it can be.  Don’t send drafts that haven’t been critiqued, proofed, written and rewritten until they contain only your very best writing. 

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