Well. The biggest problem we as writers face is perseverance. Most of us stop submitting because a handful of agents didn't bite. I don't know what genre you right in but Query Tracker lists some 300 fantasy agents or something absurd like that. The truth is most agents will take on new authors if their work is up to par. The real problem is getting them to look at our work. There in lies the Query Letter, and synopsis.
My advice: Work on your submission packet, send out to 5 or so. Wait, no bites, revise query and pick 5 new ones, don't stop until the entire list is gone through. If your query letter is good enough, it will grab a partial. If your writing is good enough, it will grab a full request. And so forth...
Its a tough haul, and like I said the hardest thing we face as authors is being stubborn. Hence my UserName Tiergan, it means stubborn.
quote:Well how do some of you novelists deal with this? You have: 1)Publishers who will not accept novels unless they are sent by an agent.
2)Agents who won't accept new authors.
In my research I've found that the majority of publishing houses follow number 1, and the majority of agents follow number 2.
I've actually run up against a minority of agents that aren't looking for new authors at all. And even those, if you keep checking places like Agent Query or the agent's website, often open up to new queries from time to time. Or you can find another way to get your foot in the door--talking to them at a conference, for example.
Thanks. I guess with my first novel, I didn't persevere because I thought it was typical first novel--not saleable. But I must admit I was discouraged by the preponderance of agents who said they wouldn't take on new authors, and the number of book publishers who said they wouldn't take any unagented manuscripts. I write mostly fantasy blends--my first book had about the same level of science as Star Wars--meaning, not much. I have two novels in progress. The one I'm currently working on is a fantasy western. The other is scifi, though more along the Terry Pratchett line of scifi.
And, another problem with my first book is it was only around 60,000 words.
[This message has been edited by Smaug (edited January 04, 2011).]
A well-prepared novel package will be read by most publishers (somewhere) even if they have a stated "no unagented subs" policy.
I have had a novel query package in the mail since mid October and have received four rejections so far, only one of which makes it clear that they just don't read them if they don't come through an agent. One is a personal "just didn't suit, send me your next and best wishes" and two were more of the generic form letter "didn't fit our line. Best wishes placing this." I have five other packages out right now. All to publishers. I don't even look to see what the publisher's stated policy is, I just look them up in Publisher's marketplace (trying to find editors who buy the kind of book I've written) and send the well-formatted and properly presented package (query letter, SASE, novel fragment - 15 pages, and synopsis that's 5 pages.)
I'm not subbing to agents, for many reasons but the primary one being agents don't buy books, publishers do. Oh, and add in a healthy dose of impatience on my part. I have no desire to work hard for a year to get an agent, then have to wait and wait another year til my novel sells. I'm giving this one six months and then putting it out myself. I've got more written and want to be writing, not waiting.
So my advice is to get your query package polished and professional, then just submit to publishers and see what happens. Sci-Fi in particular is a pretty easy genre to go unagented in.
I was thinking of saying something similar except for the package part. I haven't sent anything, concerning novels, out for four years. But even though I don't think I stated it on another thread that is one of my goals this year. One to three novels out.
And I think you stated this better than I would have and with more experience on top of it.
I deal with this by ignoring the "no unagented submissions" thing. Working for me so far (well, my fulls keep getting rejected, but at least they liked it enough to request to read the whole book, right?). I've only had a couple rejections that said "no un-agented submissions", but that's pretty much the corporate form letter, so I don't worry about it. Most of my form rejections have come from publishers that do accept submissions and all my personal/nice rejections have come from those that say they don't. So that's my experience so far, for what it's worth. About to get another batch in the mail after the slew of holiday rejections
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Meredith I hadn't realized that about shorter novels. I must be reading the last of the loner ones because it seems like most of the ones I have been reading are longer ones. I thought they were taking longer books, closer to 100,000 words then 80.
Of course that might help a couple I am working on. more on that on another thread.
I should have said that shorter is more in favor for debut novelists. Established novelists can still write longer works. And so can debut novelists, if it's good enough and you get the right agent. Look at Patrick Rothfuss. (WISE MAN'S FEAR comes out in March. We finally get day 2!)
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Publisher's Marketplace is better than Writer's Market books, I've spent a lot of time with both and the info on Publisher's Marketplace is more accurate, much more detailed on deals and latest news, and they have an awesome publishing news piece you can sign up for free called Publishers Lunch. Everyone who wants to publish today should be reading this. Stories covered in the last day include top sellers of 2010 and the latest on the Borders store stuff (they haven't been paying their suppliers and are trying to renegotiate terms with publishers. Very strange stuff.)
Think about it this way - if you send a publisher a query package and it gets rejected, nothing lost. Just paper and stamps. But putting it out there means it is in the game at least!
Greatest advice I ever got (which I only sometimes follow) is to have the next query package compiled and waiting on your desk. When a rejection comes in, slap a new cover letter on the package (ideally you've researched another market ahead of time - this is where I fall down) and put it in the mail the SAME DAY.
Good luck everyone. I look forward to hearing about all of our New York Times Best Sellers.
Forgot to mention that to get editor's names and addresses you do have to subscribe to Publisher's Marketplace. It's about $20 a month, and you can subscribe for one month only, so it might make sense to pay the $20, do your research for a month and write down all the info for 20 or 30 editors. Just be aware that editors move, retire, change jobs, publishing houses change addresses, etc. I had one packet returned because the specific imprint apparently moved across the street. Publisher's Marketplace is more current than most, but even that one I had to ask other writers for a current address for that editor/imprint.
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