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greenpower
03-24-2012, 07:11 AM
When established publishers say “no unsolicited manuscript”, is it allowable to query them about a novel? Some publishers state on their websites, “agent submissions only”. Here again, they are referring to submissions. Does the word, submissions, only refer to manuscripts or does it also apply to a query letter?

BenPanced
03-24-2012, 07:58 AM
"No unsolicited manuscripts" means do not submit a manuscript to them without having queried first. If they like the query, they will request more.

"Agent submissions only" means do not submit to them at all. The publishers who list this will only accept submissions from established agents handling a client's work.

Filigree
03-24-2012, 09:42 AM
Please make certain you understand the difference, too. Take time to polish your mms and query before hitting a query-only publisher. Slushpile discoveries happen, and you can increase your chances with hard work.

As for agent-only publishers, walk away until you have either an agent, or a stunning mms. Say you submit to them anyway, and they reject or ignore you (most likely). If you later try to have an agent submit that same mms to the same publisher...you have not only burned the bridge, but probably the agent.

Baby steps, here. Take it from someone who made a lot of stupid errors in the years before she found AW and other sites, and learned the ropes.

lauralam
03-24-2012, 01:56 PM
Ferrealz. It's so easy to make mistakes because you're so excited that you finished. I did a round of querying agents far, far too soon (my MS wasn't anywhere near ready and I thought a 650-700 word query letter was a good idea! Honestly!), and I really wish I hadn't.

WackAMole
03-24-2012, 02:21 PM
Ferrealz. It's so easy to make mistakes because you're so excited that you finished. I did a round of querying agents far, far too soon (my MS wasn't anywhere near ready and I thought a 650-700 word query letter was a good idea! Honestly!), and I really wish I hadn't.

I kind of differ with you and the short queries. I have gotten some really awesome response from very short, but intense queries.

I may be totally off base here, but I think the more you can convince someone that something is awesome by using as few words as possible, the more likely the query is to get read.

I submitted a short query to Nicolas Sparks agent and got back a request for a partial almost immediately. Maybe I was just lucky, but in my experience a short, exciting and concise query is more likely to get read than the 'Great Wall of Text' no matter how well written it is. I need to add that this if how i handle my 'email' queries not the ones I send out manually.

*disclaimer* - I am not published, so this is opinion only based on responses I've gotten from my queries.

Matt Walker
03-24-2012, 02:46 PM
WackAMole, I think Lauralam meant her 650-700 word query letter was too long, not too short.

And yes, I don't think it can hurt querying a publisher that says 'no unsolicited manuscripts'. The worst they can say is 'no thanks'. Most advice does seem to be 'try agents first' though.

Terie
03-24-2012, 02:46 PM
Ferrealz. It's so easy to make mistakes because you're so excited that you finished. I did a round of querying agents far, far too soon (my MS wasn't anywhere near ready and I thought a 650-700 word query letter was a good idea! Honestly!), and I really wish I hadn't.

I kind of differ with you and the short queries. I have gotten some really awesome response from very short, but intense queries.

Erm, how are you 'differing' from Lauralam? 650-700 words is far too long for a query. (Heck, the synopsis for my entire four-book YA series is 399 words. :D) Queries need to be short and sharp, and I think that's the point Lauralam was making. :)

heyjude
03-24-2012, 02:49 PM
WackAMole, I think Lauralam meant her 650-700 word query letter was too long, not too short.

Yes, this is too long for a query (roughly 250 is the sweet spot).

Good luck, Green Power! Is this a brand-new book?

WackAMole
03-24-2012, 03:59 PM
WackAMole, I think Lauralam meant her 650-700 word query letter was too long, not too short.

And yes, I don't think it can hurt querying a publisher that says 'no unsolicited manuscripts'. The worst they can say is 'no thanks'. Most advice does seem to be 'try agents first' though.

LOL! Thank you for clearing that up and MY BAD!

You know, when you write novels, 700 words doesnt SOUND like a whole lot and I am editing right now. Another case of me not reading better before I open my mouth. This is what gets me in trouble in these forums! I like to kinda browse through the forums while I am working on my writing, it makes for nice breaks, but i am distracted and I really, really need to read more carefully

lauralam
03-24-2012, 09:19 PM
No worries!

My query that landed me my agent was like 220 words. I worked a really, really long time on those 220 words, hah.

greenpower
03-27-2012, 04:00 AM
Thanks to all for your input. It’s hard to get around this catch 22 publishing world. Most reputable publishers only want manuscripts submitted by agents, while agents don’t want to take you on unless you’ve been published.

The answer to heyjude’s question is; yes this is a new book. This time I’ve written a techno thriller entitled “The True Virus”. With my first environmental thriller, “Green Power”, I decided to go with Publish America. This time I hope to get a reputable publisher. The Waxman Literary Agency asked to see my completed manuscript. They’ve had it for over three months. I don’t know if that’s good or bad.

Little Ming
03-27-2012, 04:24 AM
Thanks to all for your input. It’s hard to get around this catch 22 publishing world. Most reputable publishers only want manuscripts submitted by agents, while agents don’t want to take you on unless you’ve been published.


This is not true. There are plenty of authors on this forum who were unpublished when they landed their agents.
If you are having trouble getting an agent's interest in your novel, I suggest putting the query up in QLH (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=174) and/or your opening in SYW (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=26). Thick skin recommended. ;)

Deb Kinnard
03-27-2012, 04:47 AM
The kicker is, when an agent subs your project to a house you haven't published with before, you're always considered "new." I keep hearing this after 11 previous contracts with small presses. It's as though you start from scratch every time, and if you publish with Big House A eventually and later decide to sub something to Big House B, you'll be considered "new" to them, also.

I think I call that "Catch-44." Doubled.

:rant:

heyjude
03-27-2012, 02:18 PM
This is not true. There are plenty of authors on this forum who were unpublished when they landed their agents.
If you are having trouble getting an agent's interest in your novel, I suggest putting the query up in QLH (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=174) and/or your opening in SYW (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=26). Thick skin recommended. ;)

+1. I hadn't been published when my agent signed me; many, many others could say the same.

Give Query Letter Hell a try!

Al Ross
03-28-2012, 03:21 PM
Like in any business, not anything said is cut in stone. If they say they don't accept something, they might still do in certain situations.

There are examples of writers that submitted their work while it was clearly written not to and they still got a publishing deal. However, you probably get on the bottom of the slush pile.

Your chances might be greater with an agent. (Then again you have to get one first and that may take some time, while sending your manuscript to a publisher directly you could do right now.) It's up to you what you want to do.

waylander
03-28-2012, 04:07 PM
Thanks to all for your input. It’s hard to get around this catch 22 publishing world. Most reputable publishers only want manuscripts submitted by agents, while agents don’t want to take you on unless you’ve been published.

The answer to heyjude’s question is; yes this is a new book. This time I’ve written a techno thriller entitled “The True Virus”. With my first environmental thriller, “Green Power”, I decided to go with Publish America. This time I hope to get a reputable publisher. The Waxman Literary Agency asked to see my completed manuscript. They’ve had it for over three months. I don’t know if that’s good or bad.

As others have said, it is simply not true that agents don't want to take on unpublished writers. For example; Lauralam who posted upthread landed an agent last week, she is unpublished.
If your query is getting no interest from agents then you need to rework your query.

3 months probably means they haven't read it yet - no harm in sendly as polite request for a status update.

Katana
03-31-2012, 10:38 AM
Yes, this is too long for a query (roughly 250 is the sweet spot).

Yikes! If your query letter has to have a mini synopsis within it, how on earth can you make the word count this small? Is a mini synopsis a must, or is a one or two sentence summary good enough?

I have a proposal writing book from a few years back, and every example they give is at least a page long with a synopsis. Is this outdated advice?

waylander
03-31-2012, 11:16 AM
go look at Queryshark for some examples.
queryshark.blogspot.com

heyjude
03-31-2012, 05:34 PM
Yikes! If your query letter has to have a mini synopsis within it, how on earth can you make the word count this small? Is a mini synopsis a must, or is a one or two sentence summary good enough?

I have a proposal writing book from a few years back, and every example they give is at least a page long with a synopsis. Is this outdated advice?

It's not a mini synopsis, per se, in that you don't need the full plot. Just enough to tempt the agent into reading pages.

Book proposals (nonfiction) are a different animal than fiction.

Check out Query Letter Hell in Share Your Work (password vista) for examples of what works and what doesn't. :) And what waylander said--Query Shark is a wonderful education.

djf881
03-31-2012, 11:18 PM
WackAMole, I think Lauralam meant her 650-700 word query letter was too long, not too short.

And yes, I don't think it can hurt querying a publisher that says 'no unsolicited manuscripts'. The worst they can say is 'no thanks'. Most advice does seem to be 'try agents first' though.

If your manuscript has been submitted unagented to publishers and has been rejected, that means that an agent cannot submit it to those publishers again.

The publishers you'd most want to sign with only take agented manuscripts. The publishers that will take unagented manuscripts usually don't have dedicated slush readers, so you could be waiting six months or a year for a response on just a query letter. And they don't read manuscripts in the order received -- submissions from agents always get moved to the top of the pile.

Your submission might also be read and rejected by an intern if you submit unagented; an agent can get your manuscript onto the desk of an appropriate editor.

Excepting some very specific kinds of books like category romance, which are usually sold unagented, there's no good reason to submit to publishers before you query agents.