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Career Chops: Can I submit my novel directly to a publisher?

Can writers skip the agenting process altogether?

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I want to traditionally publish my novel. Can I submit directly to a publisher?

Can I submit my novel directly to the publisher?

The short answer is yes – with diligence and for a reason. If you are submitting directly to a publisher, ask yourself why. If it’s because agents have turned down your fiction submission, perhaps it isn’t ready. Before you begin submitting to anyone, make your book the best it can be.

Most big publishers don’t accept unsolicited submissions. Refer to the LMP or the market listings in this magazine for the contact information of those that do. Also, know your genre: This doesn’t mean knowing what your book is, but knowing who your book is for.

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Do your research. Submit to publishers specializing in the type of book you’ve written.

Follow the guidelines. No exceptions. If open submissions are the first Monday of every month from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., do not submit on Tuesday. If they only want a query letter and the first 15 pages, do not send a synopsis, and do not send page 16, even if it only contains a single word. Edit instead.


Be professional, courteous and precise. Remember, publishing is a business. Don’t call an editor on the phone or stop by their office to chat. Do not write that your book is the next best-seller. They’re the experts; they’ll decide.

Don’t forget that if you submit to an editor and are rejected, you cannot resubmit via an agent to the same editor.

Finally, NO legitimate publisher charges an author a fee. Ever. Read the fine print and never sign a contract that requires you to open your wallet.



—Dionne McCulloch, U.S. managing editor, Cornerstones Literary Consultancy



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