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Yes Virginia, There are Publishers Who Don’t Require Agent

Pub Date: Aug 1, 2017 | Columnist: Penny Fletcher

Yes Virginia, There are Publishers Who Don’t Require Agents

By Columnist Penny Fletcher

August 2017

In 1897, eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanion asked her father if there really was a Santa Claus. Not quite knowing how to answer, her dad suggested she write a letter and ask The New York Sun. This prompted the most reprinted editorial in all English-speaking newspapers to this date: Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

“. . . our question is if there are any big publishing houses that take books directly from authors . . .” —FLETCHER

Today, as writers, we often ask the same question over and over, thinking like Virginia O’Hanion, that we possibly we know the truth but aren’t quite sure. Only our question is if there are any big publishing houses that take books directly from authors or if an agent must always connect the deal. For years we’ve been told there is no such animal, but then every once and awhile, we hear of an author who made a deal alone. 

Contract

I’ve gotten two contracts on my own without an agent. My first book was taken by a traditional publisher, Rainbow’s End, based in Baden, Pennsylvania, but that was back in 1992 and now, they’re out of business, so If I Should Die Before I Wake is out of print. Rainbow’s staff and ownership was good to me though, and even flew me from Florida to Pennsylvania to deliver the keynote talk at a conference the year following the book’s publication, all expenses paid.

Years later, I struck a deal with Secret Cravings Publishing Company, a web-based E-book romance publisher, and wrote a short three-book series under the pseudonym Indigo Fantasia. The series, however, is no longer on their site.

“I finally admitted I needed an agent and following many queries and letters, I was accepted by an agent who had an incredible website . . . .”
—FLETCHER

C’est la vie.

Because I was working full-time as a journalist for newspapers and had moonlighted as an outsource editor for Amazon’s first publishing division, BookSurge, I put my next full-length work, The Sumerian Secret, on Amazon myself. It seems I could strike deals on my own but they weren’t good ones in the long run. Self-publishing is OK, but like most of the authors for whom I edit, I’m not much of a promoter.

I finally admitted I needed an agent and following many queries and letters, I was accepted by an agent who had an incredible website, but after two of our four-year contract, I realized she wasn’t selling anything in my genre. Eventually, we parted ways without malice. I think she was more comfortable with YA and children’s books than with my politically-incorrect language, social comment-themes, and steamy love scenes.

“I tried typing in “publishers that accept manuscripts without an agent” and found several websites that list them.”
—FLETCHER

So, what’s a writer to do?

A few months ago, I decided to put my 38-plus years as a journalist to work and search for publishers that might read fiction books that come directly from authors. After all, anyone with more than 12,000 bylines in newspapers and magazines should be able to ferret out information. What I found is that it is indeed possible to submit the work without an agent if the work is in one of five narrow genres: romance, sc fi or fantasy, children’s, mystery or horror.

I tried typing in “publishers that accept manuscripts without an agent” and found several websites that list them. Following each guideline carefully, I recently sent out two queries and have gotten one request for the first 50 pages and a synopsis and another for three chapters. Both also requested a “narrative bio” which meant I had to discard my formal resume-type biography and write conversationally. These two answers came back within two weeks so I think I’m onto something and suggest you try it too. I know I intend to spend more time searching out good publishers for my romantic suspense and less time worrying about finding another agent.

About Regular Contributor
Penny Fletcher
Author, Editor & Coach
Penny Fletcher is the author of both traditionally published and self-published books; has been a journalist and bureau editor for several large companies including Media General Communications Inc., Sunbelt Newspapers and The Tampa Tribune. She has also taught at a local college and through her Florida county library system, as well as worked as an outsource editor for Amazon’s first publishing division, BookSurge. For more information visit: www.pennyfletcher.com, or on Facebook, Twitter, or Linked-In. Her suspense-fiction book, The Sumerian Secret, is based on fact and can be found on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.