Finding a Publisher or Agent for Your Book
You've written a book? Well done!
You've spent your spare time writing and creating something wonderful. You've researched, edited, cried and searched your inner self to make this the best piece of literature possible. You then had your writer group edit it and a professional editor give you feedback so you can make it commercially viable. You're now ready to seek out a publisher and/or literary agent. So what do you do next?
I have some unfortunate news for you and every other hopeful writer: you have as much chance of gaining representation from an agent as you do winning the lotto.
The good news is that your persistence will be how you reach your goal of becoming traditionally published. This means writing lots, reading lots and submitting your best work to agents, publishers, magazines and writing competitions.
How do I submit to an agent or publisher once I have a good author portfolio and a good online presence?
There are many ways to search for publishers and agents. The easiest is to do a general online search and find an agent who suits you. You can also search via writer websites such as Writers Digest, Australian Literary Agents Association, Litrejections and many others. Once you find an agent or publisher who suits your style and/or genre of writing, check the submissions tab on their website and read through the submission guidelines. These guidelines should be followed exactly. The person checking the emailed submission from you may not be the actual agent or publisher who decides your work is good enough, and instead may be an unpaid intern who just wants the day to be over. Regardless, this person will be looking for an excuse to delete your submission without reading it. If you email your submission with even the smallest error, such as the subject line not being as specified, or using the wrong font or applying the wrong spacing, it will immediately be deleted no matter how amazing the manuscript is.
How do I find the right agent or publisher?
You can check the supplied information in books you enjoy reading, then research the publisher/agent/agency online. You can also search agents or publishers online and type "interview" to see if you can find an online interview where the agent chatts about what types of work they are looking for. I attended Thrillerfest in NYC where I found many agents and publishers looking for the genre I write. Maybe you could attend something similar?
What happens after I submit?
Don't hold your breath on getting a reply. It's unlikely you'll receive a response if your work wasn't what they were looking for. Or it may be a generic message they reply with, which is what they send to everyone. If you sent an unsolicited query, then you are allowed to send it to as many agents and publishers as you like. If the agent or publisher requests to see whole or a part of your manuscript, then you should only send it to that one person. If you send it to multiple people you'll find they will be annoyed at you and may not want to represent you. If you do not get a reply after three months, you can start submitting to other agents/publishers again.
Should I submit to an agent or a publisher?
Generally you should send to agents. This is a good filter for publishers because if your manuscript comes from an agent, it means it has been through at least one check to ensure it is ready for commercial publication. Sending to a publisher, then an agent, means you'll find that agents won't want to receive your work because they will have such a hard time selling it to a publisher if it has already been rejected by the publishers you sent it to directly.
It's a very long process and requires patience, so please don't give up after a few years of writing, rejections and edits. Stick with it and maybe I'll be reading your book from the shelves one day.