The writing and reading world has changed considerably since I first started writing my debut novel ‘The Black Petal’. For one, the old school hardback and paperback still ruled the way we read and eBooks were a thing of obscurity and unknown curiosity. Self publishing was considered derogatory also and so agents were up there on any writer’s priority list. However, all that has changed. eBook’s are out selling hard copies and indie and lesser known authors are finding fame, and to some degree fortune too, by self publishing.
So I questioned myself a few weeks ago, which really is the best route to take? I wrote to a few agents way back when asking for some advice, but with the role of the ‘agent’ falling more and more into the shadows, I decided to write to a selection of publishers for their verdict. It wasn’t a deep, heavy sort of email, more of a kind, friendly approach simply asking for some advice.
I shouldn’t have been surprised really, but out of fifteen emails, I only received one reply. I purposely opened up my copy of The Writer’s and Artists handbook 2013 to hand pick publishers. I scrolled through the plethora of houses and selected only the ones that would publish my novel. I deliberately picked some high profile ones as well as some lesser known publishers too.
I am not going to name the publishers I contacted, because I don’t think it would be fair. I do appreciate how busy they must be to reply to an email they have probably seen a thousand times before, but let’s face it. How on earth is a new writer supposed to make informed, correct and suitable choices if all the facts and queries are not laid out on the table?
The reply I did receive however was from a publishing house called Chicken House, in which a friendly lady replied to my query by posting a few links to some important and useful websites, as well some general advice about guide and reference books. She did however go on to say that many publishing houses still refuse to accept ‘unsolicited manuscripts’ and prefer to deal with an agent. Though some smaller houses will accept unsolicited material to read.
I guess one reply isn’t enough to warrant any important decision making, but if Chicken House’s reply is anything to go by, it seems the agent is still a valuable necessity. There are however some publishers out there which specifically only market eBooks and therefore is a starting block for many new and aspiring authors. I still haven’t made any choices for myself yet, but it is something that will require more insight and information. Wish me luck!
*If you are a member of an agency or publishing house and wish to share your advice, feel free to get in touch.*