There are many, many great reasons you should submit your work to agents, but let’s face it, not all work is right for an agent. Or maybe you have exhausted your agent search and still believe in your manuscript. There are definitely times that submitting your work straight to publishers is a good idea, even if you have the ultimate goal of obtaining agent representation. So, should you submit straight to publishers? How do you decide?
- Does this manuscript have commercial potential?
- Could it have a wide audience or might the audience be more specific?
- Am I ready to send this manuscript out to publishers or do I want to hold it back until I connect with an agent (even if it is with a different manuscript) who is interested in my work?
Be honest. Not every book appeals to everyone, we all know that. In general, a book with the potential for a wide audience is what agents are looking for. Sure, agents do submit to more than just the big publishing houses but even if you do connect with an agent that doesn’t mean they’re going to submit all of your work to publishers.
If your book has a niche market, a specific audience, or is perhaps too quiet for the masses, take a hard look at it and make the call. Might submitting to agents not be worth your time? (Yes, your time is important!) Might it be better for you to submit it to publishers yourself?
Of course, submit to the big publishers that are open to unagented work if you feel your work could fit there but are there smaller niche publishers who it might find it a good fit? There’s nothing wrong with skipping the agent submission rounds with your manuscript and going straight the people who make manuscripts into books! There are a lot of publishers out there, some bigger than others. Some looking for books for very specific markets.
Yes, your book can be many things and still have the potential for a wide audience. How do you know? It is your duty to be well read in your genre so you can gauge these sorts of things the best you can. If you’re unsure, and would like to have an agent to submit your work there’s no harm in submitting to agents first. (If you do want to submit to agents you should definitely submit to them before you submit to publishers.) It is best to know that you exhausted all of your submission opportunities than to wonder what if!
Of course it is okay to solely submit your work to agents if that is what you want for your career. It’s your work. It is up to you to do what you think is best. It’s tough sometimes, I know! If you’re conflicted it can help to get some opinions. Ask your writing partners or jump in and start a discussion in our Sub It Club Submission Support Group. It’s still your call. But even if you’re not sure, write on!
Need more submitting help? Check out the other posts in our Submissions 101 series: