Sunday, November 21, 2010

Project to Published: Querying Publishers Directly

Querying Publishers

This topic has raised a lot of controversy for me since I was published. I queried quite a few agents and I received over a hundred rejections before I took the plunge and began to query publishers directly. It was an eye-opening experience, filled with quite a few surprised and twists and turns in the road for me.

Other writers, who were also querying agents, heard what I was doing and would stare at me or send me messages about how I was making a mistake. Why? Because many publishers are not able to keep up with the flow of manuscripts they receive and use agents to sift through to find the best and most marketable novels. It's smart business for the publisher and it gives business to the agents. So I didn't stand a chance, right?

Wrong. Not only did I stand a chance, I started to receive acceptance letters right away. I currently do not have an agent and unless one pops up and comes to me with a really great offer I'm not sure I will ever have one. I learned a lot after I began querying the publishers directly. For instance, what an agent does and what an agent doesn't do. It is still up to the author to do a lot of the marketing and to reach out to his or her audience. If the author wants to schedule events like book signings, the author or publisher has to hire someone who can set these up. That's right - most agents don't do that.

An agent also acts as a go-between for the author and publisher. I think if I had an agent do this for me I would have lost out a lot when it comes to my publisher. I've learned so much, gotten to share ideas and I even was able to give input on the cover I wanted for my first book. I've made wonderful friends and I've seen firsthand what a publisher is capable of achieving when working directly with an author.

Does that mean it is for everyone? Definitely not. I know agents have some very big plusses (it's their job to know what sells and who to talk to), but I think publishers are worth speaking to directly. So if you are like me and crazy enough to attempt it, just remember that you have even more research to do regarding publishers than you did for agents. Know who you want to submit to, why you want to submit to them and are they accepting your genre and idea. If they are not doing so at that time, check back with them or ask what time of year they open submissions. Some publishers will accept unsolicited manuscripts if they see you've taken the time to do the work they expect in a quality manuscript.

Querying publishers directly can be difficult, but well worth the effort. Don't take it to heart if they send you a rejection. However, do listen to what they give as the reasons behind their decisions. At the very least you will learn something new about your query and/or manuscript that will help you in your second attempt or with the next publisher.

I do feel that everyone should try to get an agent before querying directly to publishers. So, to my readers out there: Would you ever consider querying directly?


  1. I would definitely consider querying a publisher directly. If I ever decide that my manuscript is ready, then I'll most likely try agents first, but if that doesn't produce anything after a while, I'd probably query the publishers directly.

  2. I actually did a post similar to this just the other week. When I get my final rejection letter from the very last agent I considered right for me, I'm going to query publishers. I've already started researching them. I want an agent, but, at the end of the day, I want to be published more. Thanks for the great post!

  3. I would definitely query a publisher directly… nothing will stop me from making it into print.
    TOR and DAW just to name a few publishers who except unsolicited manuscripts are the first two I’ll query, since they are the two largest publishers. I’ll slowly work my way down the list of agents and publishers while continue writing and evolving as a write.
    Thx for the advice and motivation.

  4. Oh, great article! I actually did it your way and queried a lot of publishers directly. Landed my first contract this past June, and my second one (with the same publisher) just last week. It DOES work, but I did have 102 rejections (mostly agents) before I got there. I'm not sure I would go the "agented" route at this point, but who knows about the future!

  5. I am SO glad I found this article! I have gotten 70+ rejections from agents and 3 acceptances from publishers via direct submission. It is a lot of work, but honestly, my work would probably not see the light of day otherwise. I fully support this for the writer determined to get published.

  6. I only query publishers. So far it's working fine for me (multiple full requests and personal rejections). I follow Heinlein's Rules for Writers though, which mandates that I have to submit my work to people who can buy it. Agents don't buy books, editors do, so that makes the choice very simple :)