So, why not you?
It has been years since most publishers accepted an unsolicited manuscript, whether fiction or nonfiction. Until recently, most manuscripts arrived via a literary agent, whose decision to represent the author was supposed to indicate quality.
The three major publishers accepting submissions are: This is a long-running program, by which authors can submit the first chapter of their manuscript, plus synopsis, each Friday.
Submissions are restricted to the first week of every month. I have to confess that when I worked as an in-house editor in the s, unsolicited manuscripts were the bane of our lives.
They haunted us as we worked on the dozen scheduled books we each had in different stages of production, stacked in piles by the door of our offices. Back then, it was an extremely rare manuscript that made it out of the slush pile and into the production schedule. Today the odds are exactly the same, though the submissions process for unsolicited manuscripts is changing.
So why are these publishers looking for your unsolicited manuscripts now? I suspect that a generational change is occurring in literary representation in Australia and that publishers have realised that they are not seeing enough new Australian writing from literary agents.
There are lots of reasons for this, but here are two. One, a lot of successful established agents have enough authors to represent, so are taking on fewer new clients.
Two, their clients, often several books into their careers, seem happy enough with their respective publishers that they do not want to shift publishing houses. Another development is also relevant. A few publishers in the US are setting up film production companies see this Hollywood Reporter piece.
The decision is based on knowledge of which editors like which sorts of books, of relationships built over time. If you are impatient enough to consider submitting an unsolicited manuscript, be aware of a few things: Without expert third-party advice, many writers who believe their work is ready are mistaken, and then disappointed when their unsolicited manuscript submission is unsuccessful.
In my own case, I often do a lot of editorial development work with my authors to ensure the manuscript is ready for submission to publishers.
You would have been better off doing more work up front with an experienced editor or finding an agent who is willing to take you on, on the condition that you work on revising your manuscript. The volume of electronic submissions will dazzle you.
Take the time to read them. Here is a great document from the Australian Society of Authors about the contractual agreement between a literary agent and an author. It explains what a literary agent does or should do.
If you have any questions, please put them in the comments below or contact me directly.There are many fantastic websites about writing on the internet, but it’s time consuming to sort the decent from the mind-bendingly awesome.
LUCIA ORTH is the author of the debut novel, Baby Jesus Pawn Shop, which received critical acclaim from Publisher’s Weekly, NPR, Booklist, Library Journal and Small Press Reviews.I have edited a number of essays and articles for Orth.
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