Agents Schmagents

#manuscriptmonday #submitting #agents

When I finished my first manuscript, I took the advice of other writers and sent out queries in an effort to get an agent. I followed the samples of query letters and synopses, researched the agents and what they were looking for, followed their query submission directions to the letter, and then held my breath, hoping one of them would be interested in reading the manuscript.

No one was.

Rejections came in, and they all seemed like form letters.

I was warned: agents receive more queries than they can handle. I would be lucky to get a look at all.

At some point during the rejection phase, I decided that there had to be a better way.

I knew that without an agent, I had no chance of having my manuscript in front of one of the major publishing houses. But the more I learned about the state of the publishing industry, the more I thought that while the agent has its place in that industry…maybe it’s also an outdated concept in the current book market. Do I really need some person out there with connections to attempt to sell my book to a publisher? And then, if he or she does, the agent gets a cut of whatever meager earnings I’d receive? What if the agent sold it to a small publisher for a lot less and I got even less than a pittance for all of my work?

Once I realized that it was likely I’d get nowhere in the agent process, at least not without endless submissions for years, I decided to forgo the middle man altogether and search for smaller publishers that allow authors to submit directly.

I suppose I could have continued to try to get an agent. But I wanted to publish my book, not beg and plead for the whims of another human being who reads and looks for a selling point. I was warned that whenever I had contracted for publication, it would take about a year to get published anyway…and that was a true statement.

If you want to make it with one of the big boys, then you have to play by their rules. So submit to agents and don’t stop. The above Chuck Sambuchino blog is a great resource for agents. It took Random House thriller author Jenny Milchman thirteen years to get published – eleven years of continual rejection. But if you don’t want to endure that, consider being your own agent. You might have to work harder, but it will be all yours. And honestly, I think even the represented authors have to work as hard I’ve been working. 

Happy Manuscripting,


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