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Thread: Now I'm really confused...advice, please?

  1. #1
    Finally signed by an agency! NovelistInNYC's Avatar
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    Now I'm really confused...advice, please?

    I always feel like I'm starting threads here over questions I should be able to answer for myself more easily, but I'm stumped. Here goes, and it's in two parts: For one, I suppose my novel could best be described as "gay contemporary fiction" or "gay literary fiction," so I've spent the last month (here, AgentQuery, P&E, and elsewhere) researching everyone I can who specifically advertises as working with the genre. Have already gotten five "no thanks" responses out of nineteen, but they were very polite and haven't shaken my confidence. Now, here's the thing; I know I don't want to self-publish. So if I decide I want to settle for publishing from a small house with a gay concentration (as opposed to finding an agent and getting a deal with a larger house that deals with gay titles, like St. Martin's), is it more likely that I can get a deal on my own without an agent's assistance? I've read several threads here which suggest that authors who specialize in niche markets (i.e., children's fantasy) try to find smaller publishing houses that cater to their direct market and can usually put deals together without additional representation, so is this something I should be looking into?

    Secondly, I did some research earlier using the website of a local gay bookshop to look for the names of publishers, then tried cross-referencing on P&E and the majority of them aren't listed there (with the single exception of Kensington Publishing, which seems to exclusively accept from agents, and Gay Sunshine Press, whose website is simply one short list of recent sales and has no information about how to make submissions) In fact, none of the online ifo I can find on any of these seems to have submission info. Am I well-served in simply e-mailing or calling any of them to find out if authors can make submissions directly? Or might that jeopardize my chances in some way?

    For the record, these are the houses in question:

    Harrington Park Press
    Carroll & Graf
    Sarabande Books
    Suspect Thoughts Press
    Regan Books
    Fithian Books
    Delphinium Books
    Alyson Books
    Grove Press
    Anchor Books
    Gay Sunshine Press
    Wildcat
    Pocket Star
    Belhue Press

    (I realize that some of these might be self-publishing. There were also quite a few titles from Authorhouse).

    Any illumination on this would be extremely welcome. Thanks.

    Drew
    All for the Best: How Godspell Transferred from Stage to Screen. ETA: November 2011 via Bear Manor Media.

  2. #2
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    I just tried googling for two of them using the publisher name and the phrase 'submission guidelines' and found the information on their websites:

    http://www.haworthpressinc.com/books/propguide.asp

    http://www.suspectthoughts.com/guidelines.htm
    Emily Veinglory

  3. #3
    practical experience, FTW
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    A novel sent to a publisher (who accepts unagented submissions) by a reputable agent will start with an advantage (because someone knowledgeable about books is recommending it) and will probably be read faster.

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  5. #5
    wishes you happiness JennaGlatzer's Avatar
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    Hi Drew,

    For Alyson Books, contact mail@alyson.com and ask for their editorial guidelines. That's the only one I knew off-hand, but I suspect you're not looking at the websites closely enough. Click around under things like "about us" and "contact us" and "FAQs," and it'll usually give some indication of how to find guidelines.

    Am I well-served in simply e-mailing or calling any of them to find out if authors can make submissions directly?
    Yes, nothing wrong with that at all. You could just e-mail or call and ask if they have submissions guidelines available, and if they say they don't have formal guidelines, just ask where you could send a query letter (e-mail or mail).

    Now, one other point: You say you've spent a month researching agents, and you've received five rejections so far. A good start. Now, how long did it take you to write the manuscript? Why are you already talking about "settling" after a month of shopping it around?

    Incidentally, those on your list aren't all small presses. Regan Books is an imprint of HarperCollins. They don't publish a ton of books, but their track record of bestsellers is outstanding. Anchor Books is an imprint of Random House and doesn't take unagented submissions. Carrol & Graf is an imprint of Avalon.

    Take your time with this part of the process. You wouldn't want to rush the writing... don't rush the selling. Learn more about the publishers who publish your genre and find your book a great home.
    I am no longer here. If you'd like to visit me, please find me at www.jennaglatzer.com or on Facebook. Thanks!

  6. #6
    Cultus Gopherus MacAllister Medievalist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NovelistInNYC
    I always feel like I'm starting threads here over questions I should be able to answer for myself more easily, but I'm stumped. Here goes, and it's in two parts: For one, I suppose my novel could best be described as "gay contemporary fiction" or "gay literary fiction," so I've spent the last month (here, AgentQuery, P&E, and elsewhere) researching everyone I can who specifically advertises as working with the genre.
    That's a good start--but a better way would be to go to bookstores and libraries and look at the books. Who published them?

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  7. #7
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    Publisher wesbites are often terribly structured. Here are some thinks to try.

    -- Look for a site map to get your bearings
    -- Just google as I did from the outside
    -- Use the advanced google option to search within their site (you specific the main .com or whatever it is and search all pages based upon it)

    Failing that you can ask at gay authors' egroups or forums where people tend to have this info at their fingertips (e.g. gaywriters.com, theuniquequill yahoogroup)
    Emily Veinglory

  8. #8
    Persisting AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NovelistInNYC
    Secondly, I did some research earlier using the website of a local gay bookshop to look for the names of publishers, then tried cross-referencing on P&E and the majority of them aren't listed there (with the single exception of Kensington Publishing, which seems to exclusively accept from agents, and Gay Sunshine Press, whose website is simply one short list of recent sales and has no information about how to make submissions) In fact, none of the online ifo I can find on any of these seems to have submission info. Am I well-served in simply e-mailing or calling any of them to find out if authors can make submissions directly? Or might that jeopardize my chances in some way?

    For the record, these are the houses in question:

    Harrington Park Press
    Carroll & Graf
    Sarabande Books
    Suspect Thoughts Press
    Regan Books
    Fithian Books
    Delphinium Books
    Alyson Books
    Grove Press
    Anchor Books
    Gay Sunshine Press
    Wildcat
    Pocket Star
    Belhue Press

    (I realize that some of these might be self-publishing. There were also quite a few titles from Authorhouse).

    Any illumination on this would be extremely welcome. Thanks.

    Drew
    Hi, Drew. This is going to be tough love--brace yourself, and remember it's still love.

    You need to leave the comforts of your internet connection to find your niche. The web is a very useful research tool, but it's just one tool. I recommend a field trip to that gay bookstore whose website you checked out, and to other gay bookstores in your area (or where you travel), and the gay section of mainstream bookstores, too.

    Why? Because, as you're seeing, web presence isn't a must for a lot of small businesses, including publishers. If you browse the stores themselves, not a website, you may see substantially more or different stock than what's online (where PODs run shoulders with biggies). You can also see which ones the store is promoting and if they're not busy, find out why. You'll probably see the absence of PODs, which may be available at the website because it makes the number of titles the store carries look bigger.

    Find books that seem similar to yours. Get the copyright dates, so you're sure a given publisher is currently handling gay fiction. Note the city in which each publisher is located--that plus their name can probably lead you to a street address found online, where you can write for submission guidelines, just like we did in Ye Olden Tymes.

    And while you're at the mainstream bookstore, check out the books in the writing section. I've got last year's Writer's Market open to the Book Publishers Subject Index/Fiction, where I see about two-thirds of a column under the heading Gay/Lesbian. Some won't be what you want at all, but some will. (They've got submission guidelines for Gay Sunshine, BTW.)

    Carroll & Graf no longer lists gay as a type of fiction they're seeking; my erotica collection includes a number of fairly explicit gay novels from them, but all at least 8 or 10 years old. I believe the change occurred before 2000.

    Come on by the Erotica board, too. Maybe some of the people there know markets you and I never heard of.

    Maryn, pleased to meet you
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  9. #9
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Fithian is a vanity publisher. I understand it's a well-regarded vanity publisher--i.e., it produces good quality books and fulfills its contractual promises--but it's still pay-to-publish.

    - Victoria

  10. #10
    Hagiographically Advantaged AW Moderator HapiSofi's Avatar
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    I know Tor and SMP both have a positive take on gay fiction. SMP is of course more on the mainstream side of things. Will they not take unagented submissions? I know Tor will.
    Winner of the Best Drycleaner on the Block Award.

  11. #11
    Finally signed by an agency! NovelistInNYC's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for such great advice.

    Hapi, I thought Tor was strictly science fiction and fantasy, no?
    All for the Best: How Godspell Transferred from Stage to Screen. ETA: November 2011 via Bear Manor Media.

  12. #12
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    No. Tor has a number of lines, including Forge and Orb. Consider that Andrew Greeley is a Tor author.

    That's why looking on bookshelves to see who published books like yours is important.

  13. #13
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Some of these are common names, so I hope I found the right ones…

    WARNING: Books covers and language often NOT WORK SAFE.

    Harrington Park Press http://www.haworthpress.com/imprints/details.asp?ID=HPP
    Carroll & Graf [Publishers] http://www.carrollandgraf.com/
    Sarabande Books http://www.sarabandebooks.org/
    Suspect Thoughts Press http://www.suspectthoughts.com/
    Regan Books http://www.harpercollins.com/imprint...int=ReganBooks
    Fithian Books http://www.danielpublishing.com/fithian.htm
    Delphinium Books http://www.delphiniumbooks.com/
    Alyson Books http://www.alyson.com/
    Grove Press http://www.groveatlantic.com/
    Anchor Books http://www.randomhouse.com/anchor/
    Gay Sunshine Press (supposedly http://www.gaysunshine.com/ , but site looks like its been hacked)
    Wildcat [International] http://wildcatintl.com/welcome.html
    Pocket Star http://www.simonsays.com/
    Belhue Press (looks to be one-man operation by Perry Brass at http://www.perrybrass.com/)
    ICAO
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