A Grand Slam

Dear Miss Snark,

Last spring I received a hopeful rejection from Publisher #1 in which the editor asked me to resubmit June 2007 as his latest catalog was full. In the meantime, I continued to query and received a strange offer from Publisher #2. He told me he would consider my novel for his spring 2007 catalog but said the MS required a brush-up edit. He then proceeded to give me the name of an affiliated editor ($1000). Now my snark-sense went off, telling me this was a "pay to publish" situation.

So, I have left it alone for about a month now, but my impatience is gnawing at me. I'm nearly finished with a new novel and I guess I just want to get this first one rolling. Plus, even if I wait until June 2007 with Pub #1 there is no guarantee he will accept it.

What should I do?

Thanks for all your help both present and past,

So, you're impatient to spend $1000 to see your novel in print are you?
There's no guarantee that Publisher #2 will publish it either. All he said was it needed a brush up edit for him to consider.

NO legitimate publisher works like that. The Spring 2007 catalogs for every legit publisher I can think of have been filled for months. I sold books for that catalog last winter. We've started pre-publication publicity for those books. They're old news around here.

If you're that desperate to see your work in print, spend less and use CafePress or Lulu.
You'll have a lovely book that you can show off. Bookstores won't stock it and distributors and libraries won't carry it, but they won't with Publisher B most likely either.

Desperation is a very very bad mind set for making business decisions of any kind.


Delilah said...

I'd like to know who publisher #2 is so I can start baking cookies (chocolate chip, of course) for a Snarkling-sponsored lynching party.

Fie, how this pisses me off!

Sherry Decker said...

It sounds to me like you need to send it to more publishers than just #1 or #2. Why not 6 or 8? While you're waiting to hear, polish up your next novel and get it going also. Start novel #3. Why wait for a couple of very iffy publishers to respond? Or better yet, find yourself an agent to submit your work for you while you write.

Ryan Field said...

Sherry, I truly don't mean to be pushy about this, but who the hell are these publishers who will take on anything from an unagented writer? And where are they? Is there a hidden list? Unless I missed something important, this writer isn't with an agent, and is submitting on her/his own. There are only a handful of reputable publishers who'll even consider an unagented query (usually in the gay lesbian genre), and the rest are all...vanity presses. It just sounds to me like this writer is living in a dream world.

"Or better yet, find yourself an agent to submit your work for you while you write." ....This sounds like the best advice.

Feisty said...

Desperation is the mother of regret.

Dana Y. T. Lin said...

Yeah, I don't understand the hurry. Just query it to other places while you work on other projects.

Chumplet said...

There are publishers out there with their very own slush piles. I found a great one last week and after I run my stuff through the crapometer, I'm sending it.

Verification word: riosy. Hopefully everything will be coming up riosy.

wonderer said...

ryan field,

One of the major science fiction/fantasy publishers, Tor, still takes unagented submissions.

That said, I agree that the questioner should be querying agents instead of publishers.

Dave Kuzminski said...

Hey, you're also supposed to report those kinds of publishers to P&E so we can list them with appropriate advice for all writers.

Sherry Decker said...

I wouldn't advise sending a manuscript to a publisher without querying first. Thought that was elementary and understood. I write mainly genre material and there are plenty of publishers that will take unsolicited submissions. And yes, the agent suggestion is probably the best route. As of today I have 38,000 words written, aiming for 75,000-80,000 by New Years Day. Then, the agent search beings. Good luck with your writing.

kis said...

Yanno, from the research I've done, I'm thinking in some cases a writer might get kinder consideration from those publishers who are open to unagented submissions than they might from an agent. Agents are so inundated with crap, you have to prove yourself in the space between one sip of gin and the next. Publishers likely have smaller slush-piles than ever, and therefore the time to give every submission a chance.

And I don't know if publishers always want you to query first. Tor asks for three chapters. Baen Books also accepts unagented submissions, and unless they've changed their guidelines, they want the whole manuscript by email right off the bat. Daw Books wants hard copy, but I think they want the whole shebang, too.

And for all you folks out there writing fantasy with a strong female character and a romantic subplot, there's always Luna--an imprint of Harlequin. As far as I know the little diamond-clad jester has always been open to submissions.

Termagant 2 said...

Don't look now, Ryan, but some of the larger publishers still take unagented work, buy it, publish it--the whole enchilada. They're still out there, just not as many as there used to be.


Kendall said...

kis: Fewer of the big publishers take unagented manuscripts, so you think the ones that still have slush piles have smaller ones? I expect the opposite....

Joshilyn Jackson said...

For the record: There are MANY reputable small independent and University affiliated presses that take unagented work. Top of my head: Greywolf, Red Hen, Black Ice, FC2 and Coffee House. When I googled those names and the word "list" I found this page:


I don't have time to check and make sure every press listed there is legit, but I recognize quite a few of the presses listed as good small houses. Before I started writing novels and got an agent, I self-shopped my first short story collection at a some of these houses.

You won't find Publish America and other subsidy/vanity/self-pubbing places on this list. Your advance may be 500 dollars, but they'll be paying it to you and sending copies out for review. It's a good option if you think you have buckets of literary merit but not buckets of wide commercial appeal, or if you are writing expy fic, or it can be a very good stepping-into-the-industry route if you are unagented----

My friend River Jordan's first novel (THE GIN GIRL) came out with a small press on the list. Livingston. The reviews were good, and now she has a agent and her second book sold to Harper San Francisco.

Anonymous said...

I'd resubmit with publisher 1 and start novel 3. Impatience is a very bad advisor. Getting an agent to do the submitting is also a very good idea, but please oh please, do not spend money on anything but electricity, paper and stamps.

Sal said...

who the hell are these publishers who will take on anything from an unagented writer? And where are they? Is there a hidden list?

I keep a list of publishers I know of that accept either queries, proposals, or manuscripts from writers directly. The list is not exhaustive at all and has a hundred publishers listed. Granted none of the publishers is suited to all writers.

While you are searching for publishers who publish your kind of work, some extra time researching should uncover some who don't require an agent's matchmaking.

That said, I'd rather have a good agent sorting wheat from chaff for me and if that wasn't possible, I'd find an agent pronto once I had an offer I was considering.

Gerri said...

Put this up on your affirmation mirror:


Say it with me now...


See how easy it is? Try it again.


There you go. *pat pat*

See how easy it is?

kis said...

When it comes to SFF, look at the number of books put out each year, and compare with the (piddly) number of agents willing to rep the genre. Even agent Kristin said she was actively trying to expand her list of SFF because so many publishers want it, and so few agents condescend to touch the stuff. To me, that means agents in this genre are possibly pickier than the publishers themselves. Just the fact that so many (comparatively) SFF publishers are willing to take unagented subs says something.