I’ve seen an upswing in authors simultaneously submitting to very small print presses and e-publishers as well as literary agents. I’m going to share my frustrations with this practice. I understand that writers are looking for a ‘win’ in a sea of rejection and to get themselves bumped up in the slush pile, but this is counterintuitive and here’s why:
It suggests that you and an agent might have very different ideas about the market for your book and vision for your career.
If a writer submits to agents, small presses, and e publishers what outcome are they looking to achieve? Get a small press deal and have an agent negotiate it? Get an e-publishing offer and turn it down once you’ve accomplished what you wanted: to get an agent? Use a small deal to leverage a bigger one? Ditch it all once you get an agent and then shoot for a publisher with a bigger distribution channel?
Agents are running a business and we have systems in place that works for a reason. We’re looking to discover fantastic new writers in the slush and it’s okay just to query us and not have an offer attached to your project. Don’t waste anyone time, including your own, by throwing your project into any open door in the industry. Get an agent, find one that understands your needs and loves your work, and then tackle this crazy industry together with a similar vision for your career.
Yes, the industry is changing quickly, but guess what? Great agents are ahead of the curve and know how small presses and e-publishing work and their place in the greater publishing ecosystem.
Yes, coming to an agent with an offer of representation is a good way to get yourself read quicker by an agent, but it’s almost a false start because we’re going to evaluate you on the same principles as we would anyone else.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against small presses, but commercial agents such as myself want to pursue projects that will appeal to big and small publishers alike and we often start by submitting to ‘the Big 6.’
Writers aren’t helping themselves by looking for any ‘yes’ when what they really need is the best fit of agent & publisher. This industry is not getting any simpler or more straightforward. With every news article there is a new complication introduced. Protect yourself from the sea of confusion and select an agent straight away–then carry out your career plan with your agent getting the best deal, not any deal, for you.
Q: Help me understand, why are writers submitting to both agents and small presses simultaneously?
Image via the Globe and Mail