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
Suspect Thoughts Press
Gay Sunshine 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.