You have written a book and may be wondering if you can send it to publishers directly instead of going the agent route. The good news that it is possible to send your work to some publishers directly, but there are qualifications. Only smaller publishing houses accept direct submissions. These companies often focus on a niche market like science fiction, Christian, LBGTQ. These companies tend to offer small or no advances. If a big advance isn’t important to you, and you don’t want to spend the year or more it might take for an agent to contact you and get your work in front of a publishing house, then sending directly to smaller publishers might be a good fit for you.
The first thing you want to do is to identify mid-sized to small publishers. You must research the guidelines of publishing houses to submit your work. One fee-based site on which to research publishers is WritersMarket.com. Poetry & Writers also offers a database that may help you as you research publishers. Once you have identified publishers who take full novel submissions, you should follow their guidelines to the letter. If you have any questions, also try Absolute Write Forums, a worldwide community of writers which is a good place to ask questions about publishers. Finally, always send to a particular editor and be sure that your book is appropriate for the publishing house.
What if you want to send to the “big six” publishing houses? These publishers are closed to direct submissions. The only way to send your book to these houses is by solicitation. The best way to get your book in front of editors at a large publisher is through an agent. Occasionally, writers can reach out to “big six” editors by paying a fee at a conference in order to have an editor look at a sample. On rare occasions, such a sample review may garner a request for a submission. It is also possible to get a submission read at a “big six” publishing house through personal contacts. Even in these situations, though, an editor will request an author find an agent before moving forward with a publishing contract.
The reason that the “big six” do not accept unsolicited manuscripts is logistics. These houses would receive tens of thousands of submissions every year if they opened the doors to unsolicited manuscripts. They have neither the time nor the manpower to sort through a slush pile of this magnitude. Agents are experienced publishing professionals. Many have an editorial background. They wade through thousands of queries on a yearly basis to get at the cream of the crop.
Now, you’ve done your research, and you’re ready to send your book. You can rest knowing that you have done your best to give your work a chance to shine.
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