Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Should I Seek an Agent or Publisher?

The question that runs through every writer's mind: 

Should I submit to an agent or publisher?

I've listed a few sites at the bottom of this post that will help you decide. To make it easier on you, I've summed up the main points below:

The advantages of submitting to an agent:

  • Many publishers are closed to unagented submissions. Agents can be your key to opening those doors.
  • Agents know what publishers are looking for so they streamline the search for you.
  • Agents have a relationship with editors so they have better access and knowledge to the industry.
  • Your manuscript gets priority over the slush pile. Publishers trust agents to help them find good writing and weed out those writers who haven't studies the business or craft of writing. It saves publishers time from weeding through he slush pile. 
  • You get more negotiation leverage with an agent. The agent also can help you understand the contract and the publishing process.
  • Agents help build your career as an author.
  • Agents manage your submissions for you so you don't have to.
  • Agents can help you make your project more saleable before submitting to publishers.

The advantages of submitting to a publisher:

  • Having an agent doesn't guarantee a book sale. It is a subjective business but you may be able to increase your chances of publication by looking into smaller publishing houses that agents may not consider.
  • If you have a niche book, you may fare better by looking at smaller publishers on your own. Be familiar with the publishers and know what they are looking for.
  • You keep your royalties. You don't have to give a percentage to an agent.
  • You have control as to who you want to submit to.

What happens if I can't get an agent?

If you have exhausted your agent search (although I don't recommend this- see why you shouldn't submit to no more than 6-8 agents at a time), take a moment to re-evaluate your writing. Get several more critiques. I suggest getting a professional critique by someone who is an expertise in your genre. Revise. Revise. Revise. Resubmit. If that fails, you can try your chances with submitting to publishers.

So you don't get discouraged, here are a few first-time authors who have submitted directly to a publisher and have been successful. Read about their stories to getting published:
Used with permission from Debbie Ridpath Ohi at Inkygirl.com

Sherry Duskey Rinker, author of Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site
Donna Earnhardt, author of Being Frank
Laura Murray, author of Gingerbread Man Loose in the School
Rob Sanders, author of Cowboy Christmas

Below are some wonderful sites to help you decide whether or not to submit to an agent or publisher:

Creating a Submission Strategy (Pros/Cons)
When should you seek and agent and when is it best to submit straight to the publisher?Heather Aryis Burnell, founder of Sub It Club, sums it up for you and shares the advantages of each.
Agent Rachelle Gardner goes into detail about the pros and cons of having an agent.

Why You Should Never Submit Unagented- (Why You Should Have an Agent)
This is a great post on the advantages of having an agent from an editor's point of view. There is also a FAQ section that covers different scenarios such as conference deals, earnings, agent search and what approach to take.

Submitting to Publishers Without an Agent- (When It's Okay to Submit Unagented)
Author Nathan Bransford gives instances when submitting directly to publishers makes sense.

This is a great post about first-time author Michelle Houts' experience with publishing directly with a publisher then with an agent. Here she shares her publishing journey and gives us insights about the process. 

It's important to know that you should avoid submitting simultaneously to agents and publishers. If you are hoping to find an agent, this could kill your chances. If your manuscript has already been "shopped" around, that gives agents little to work with and if they find out that several publishers have seen your work and passed, they may not want to represent you.

If there are other sites you've found helpful in the decision of whether to submit to an agent or publisher, please share them with me in the comments. 

Hope you find this post helpful! If you like what you've read, please share. 



  1. Good question, Romelle! Thanks for putting all this info in one place.

  2. Well done Romelle. You've pulled together plenty of resources for anyone who is trying to choose one path or the other!

  3. Great post Romelle - Everything in one place!

  4. Lots of great information! Thanks!

  5. Excellent! Can't wait to explore the links! Thank you!



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