Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Agents and Publishing

I have a question for all your writers out there. Two of my writer/blogger friends have posted lately that they published without agents. I was under the impression that publishers will not look at manuscripts unless they are represented by an agent. Is this a myth? Please share your experiences with this. Thanks so much.


Tabitha Bird said...

Hey Karen, no personal experience as I am unpublished at least for now, but I do know of a number of Australian publishing houses that are perfectly happy to look at unpublished manuscripts. I found this out by googling publishing houses and looking at their submission guidelines... some said that you needed an agent, but many were happy to accept unsolicited work as long as you followed their guidelines. and it wasn't only the smaller publishing houses that were willing to take a look. Some of the bigger ones were interested too.

I can email you names and links if you like.

Tabitha Bird said...

Sorry I meant unsolicited when I said unpublished... you get what I mean though right :)

Jennifer Shirk said...

It depends on a few things.
1) what publishing house. Some will read unsolicted manuscripts and you do not need an agent. Check out the publishers Web site to find out.
And also, some publishers find manuscripts through writing contests, also without an agent.

L. Diane Wolfe said...


Most small - mid-sized publishers will look at a manuscript without an agent. It is far easier to land a publisher than it is an agent, too. Agents are looking for proven track records and celebrities.

My friend & mentor, p.m. terrell, landed a publisher first. After two books, she got an agent and landed a better deal with a larger publisher.

L. Diane Wolfe “Spunk On A Stick”

Martha Nichols said...

Yes, sometimes landing a publisher comes before landing an agent. Most small literary presses look at un-agented mss.--same for university presses these days--and there's no stigma in not having one. Unless you're going after a big publisher, sometimes it's to your advantage financially to be the agent for your own book (and perhaps to hire your own publicist). That said, having a good agent is really a great resource. I'm on the look-out for a new one myself...

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I had an agent - nightmare experience. I met my publisher through the Florida Wriers Association and though they only accept agented submissions, he listened to my tale of woe about why I didn't have an agent and agreed to read my manuscript. Attending events where you have the opportunity to meet agents and publishers can be helpful.

The Old silly said...

I have three books pub'd with no agent. Most self-pubs and most small traditional pubs will accept unsolicited manuscript submissions (or at least queries/sample chapters) directly from "unknown" authors. So yeah - you don't have to have an agent. Agents - the good ones - CAN be of great help getting you past gatekeepers in the larger pub houses, but there's no need to not get pub'd at all if you can't get an agent at the start of your career.

Marvin D Wilson

Helen Ginger said...

Self-pubbing requires no agent. Then there are small and regional presses, university presses. Just make sure when you approach them that they're legit and that they're the appropriate place for your book.

Straight From Hel

Kerrie said...

There are a lot of good answers to your question. Bottom line: Small to mid-sized publishers will typically work directly with an author. Also for non-fiction, you don't necessarily need an agent.

Just remember to always check guidelines in the Writers Market or online. The Writers Market always shares the percentage of books a publishing house publishes that were unagented books.

Jody Hedlund said...

Small publishing house and category romance houses do not require agents. Big, traditional houses mostly require them, and often won't look at a MS unless presented by an agent. The only exception that I've heard for the big houses is meeting an editor at a conference and having them request from you directly. Otherwise, the big houses use agents to screen manuscripts for them.

Karen Walker said...

Thank you all so much. I wish I'd known you guys when I was working on my memoir. But it's good to know now for future manuscripts.

DebraLSchubert said...

I have no useful help, but I wanted you to know I stopped by and read all the comments. Interesting question and responses!

Patricia Stoltey said...

There are quite a few small and medium-sized publishing houses that will look at unagented manuscripts. The advances will probably be small or nonexistent, and the amount of editing and promo help offered will vary from house to house.

It's always best to try for the agent first because then you'll have access to the bigger publishers, help evaluating the contract offers, and the agent will handle marketing whatever subsidiary rights you retain. I had to do all that for myself to get the audiobook and the mystery book club contracts.