Thursday, April 25, 2013

Do You Need an Agent?

You don't need an agent to be published. There are myriads of publishers out there that take un-agented subs and, quite surprisingly, dozens that offer token and higher advances plus distribution. For some reason, the larger, more prestigious small press houses refer to themselves as "Independent Publishers." Don't forget University presses that take fiction. Google up a list of those and read the guidelines.

One of the biggest reasons for rejection does not have anything to do with the quality of the submission. Keep in mind that an agent might only allow 2 to 5 new writers on board per year, and they receive thousands of submissions in that time frame. Some pretty tight odds, there. Many agencies are full up at the present but accept submissions because it gives them the appearance of being active and receptive. Writing clients die, fire their agent and move on, and this always leaves a few slots open for newcomers. Timing has more to do with getting hooked up with an agent than you would have thought.

Hint: if you have more than one book polished and ready to go, your chances are better of getting picked up. Especially if they are in the same genre (agent's specialty), or your halfway through a series, or have completed a sequel or a trilogy. State that fact in your query's bio/credit list. This gives you legs with the agency--they're interested in your future and commitment to putting out several books on down the road.  I had four books ready to go that I'd swarmed the small press with. I used all the comments from those editors (who rejected me) to rewrite and revise every book. Yes, I used them as beta readers. Then I went agent hunting and got scooped up by four agents. I settled on the A-lister, who loved all of the stories and intended on repping all of them. 
Here's a few small press and independents that pay token and small advances ranging from $100 to $2,500. I think Journalstone forked over $6,500 for their last acquisition (that's their claim, anyway). Many of these have real book store placement via legit distribution. A $200 advance seems to be a very popular threshold. Sorry for any errors--I wrote it fast:

Zharmae (really has some communications problems—failure to follow through)
Journalstone (excellent, exacting editor here)
Bell Bridge (probably one of the best small press pro staffs extant)
Soho (whopping reputation)
Sourcebooks (award winner and very popular)
LLDreamspell (one to watch)
Diamond Heart
Prometheus (the best advances and distribution)
Steward House
Scarlet Voyage
Pyr (top of the line—very well respected in SF and fantasy circles)
47th Street (?)
Snow Books (Long time popular press with many awards and celebrity authors)
Red Deer
Shadowfall (Illness has forced a temporary shutdown here)
Random House (new digital imprint—Alibi, Flirt, etc,.)
Grand Central (Forever Yours Digital)
Buzz Books (?)
Top Publications
Arthur A. Levine
Grand Mal Press
Seventh Street
Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry (agent, I think, but a huge trend-setter)
LLewellyn Worldwide
Permuted Press (really making some huge strides)
Blue Leaf
The Story Plant (the famed Lou Aronica and Peter Miller launch)
Mischief Books
Etopia (with stipulations--straight romance and erotica)
Oneworld Press (advance?--distribution)
Limitless (best covers in the industry—hands down)
Intrigue Press
Nightshade (agent sub, and they've had some financial trouble lately which forced a bankruptcy)

PLANET JANITOR CUSTODIAN OF THE STARS--Starship Troopers meets Robinson Crusoe on Mars. A must read for classic and Golden Age Fans!

Planet Janitor: Custodian of the Stars (Engage Science Fiction) (Illustrated) 

Captain Zachary Crowe and the crew of Planet Janitor Corporation are adept at handling environmental clean-ups and close system jumps to collect precious ores and space trash. The problem is they have yet to complete an assignment without a mishap to add to their not so stellar record. Scraping the bottom of the barrel, Orion Industries contracts Planet Janitor for a clandestine operation that no one else wants, offering them more money than they could spend in three lifetimes. The mission entails a 12 light-year trip to a newly found habitable planet in the Tau Ceti system. The crew will lose 26 years on Earth due to the cryo jump, but that is the least of their problems. What they find on Tau Ceti will rattle their wits, test their courage, and threaten their very survival.


"Planet Janitor does deliver an interstellar romp that hearkens to the best of Robert Heinlein or Philip José Farmer... A rollicking plot-driven adventure... The dangers are intimidating, the wonders evocative and the thread that ties it all together is always just a little more tangled than it seems." --The Canadian Science Fiction Review, December 13, 2010

"An intriguing and exciting cross between Aliens and 10,000 Years B.C. - Stevenson shows us a future filled with proof that we should listen to Stephen Hawking's warnings about alien life forms and what they want to do to us." --Gini Koch, author of `Touched by an Alien' & `Alien Tango', December 1, 2010

"Stevenson's book considers the possibility of an elite industry of environmental cleanup specialists who take on all sorts of bizarre environmental jobs... Clearly, this is a timely topic that hits home in the wake of the Gulf oil spill." --SF-Fandom, September 21, 2010

From the Publisher

A great deal of care went into the quality of this book, with case laminate library binding, wrap around cover art, and 26 illustrations.