How To Find a Publisher or Agent
Is it an editor's job to help a client get published after the editing process?
The answer is no. While I do provide a submission and back cover blurb review service – if I’ve edited your book – it’s not an editor’s role to research publishers or agents for clients. This is the legwork every writer needs to do themselves. The research you undertake during this process is essential for you, as an author, to be able to provide comparative listings when preparing your submission to publishers or agents, i.e. What other publications can you compare your own writing to? What similar themes do you explore? Which authors do you identify with?
So how to research a publisher or agent?
I suggest you go to a bookshop or library and check what other similar books have been published recently or are still strong sellers years down the track. Make a list of who published which book. Have a look through the acknowledgements sections to see if any authors are represented by an agent. Then you can look up each publisher’s or agent’s website to check their submission guidelines.
Tip 1: Publisher or agent guidelines
Follow these guidelines to the letter, including what and how you submit. This process tells publishers if you’re able to take instructions and will be easy or difficult to work with. If you don’t follow them, you risk having your submission binned without a glance.
Tip 2: Agents vs publishers
Who should you approach first? It’s really a personal choice; however, here are some points to consider:
- These days, publishers are generally more open to writers approaching them directly, and some have set up weekly pitch opportunities, e.g. Allen & Unwin have The Friday Pitch, and Pan Macmillan have Manuscript Monday.
- Agents already have existing relationships with publishers, so you have a better chance of getting a publishing deal if an agent goes in to bat for you. They will also look after your contract if you’re lucky enough to land a deal.
- If you have already approached publishers directly and been rejected, an agent is unlikely to then offer you representation, as you have closed off those publishing opportunities.
- If you are lucky enough to be offered a contract by a publisher, you are still free to then ask an agent to represent you.
Where to find publisher or agent details
The Australian Writer’s Marketplace is an excellent source of information on Australian publishers and agents. There is a subscription fee for the online version, but your local library should have a current hard copy. *As of Jan 2020, the website was under development, so it’s probably a better option to get a hold of a hard copy.
The Australian Literary Agents Association has a limited list of agents and their websites, but it does have some of the major Australian players mentioned.
Agent Query is a free American agent source site with some great tips on how to approach agents and write submission letters.
Be ready before you submit
But first things first. Your manuscript needs to be in the best possible shape before you even consider submitting it. Publishers and agents receive thousands of submissions every year, and each manuscript is often only given a quick glance before being passed over. This means you only have a brief chance at being noticed, so why wouldn’t you want to put your best work forward? And I can help you get there. Have a look at my manuscript editing services and let me help you get your story to shine.