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Old 11-20-2012, 12:05 AM   #1
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Submitting Directly to the Editor

Just as a fluke I submitted to an editor that only takes unagented subs and luckily got a response. "No thanks, I think we might have something similar." I was surprised I even got an email and I was even more surprised they didn't say you need an agent to submit.

I wonder, has anyone done this successfully? I mean, has anyone sent directly to an editor (that only accepts agent submissions) and get a good response? Perhaps even a request for the full?
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Old 11-20-2012, 01:24 PM   #2
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I've done it several times but only when I already had a relationship wtih the editor. In most cases, I got a contract out of it.

I wouldn't submit cold to an editor I didn't know, who stated that she only accepted agented submissions. I'd let my agent do that.
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Old 11-20-2012, 02:36 PM   #3
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That's how the book in my sig sold--but I had a previous relationship with the editor as well. She'd asked for an R&R on my previous book (which was submitted under my then-agent).

I've heard stories of people submitting to editors and getting reads or deals out of it, but I can't recall any details off-hand. I'd avoid it. The odds of something coming out of it are slim, and the odds of irritating someone are great.
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Old 11-20-2012, 02:59 PM   #4
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Yep; never cold-call anyone you don't know personally. If people are accepting manuscripts, follow their submission guidelines.

Another thing: let's say you know that Pendant Publishing is accepting manuscripts, and you're hoping that yours will cross the desk of Elaine Benes, who you happen to know works there, has edited books you like and who seems like the perfect fit. But the submission guidelines say "please address it to 'Submissions Editor'" Please don't ignore that and address it to Elaine anyway?
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Old 11-20-2012, 07:21 PM   #5
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But the submission guidelines say "please address it to 'Submissions Editor'" Please don't ignore that and address it to Elaine anyway?
I've heard the opposite advice, especially if you can address the editor in a specific way. For example: heard them at a conference, quoting an interview online, read their blog faithfully, know your work fits with exactly what they have done and are looking for. So why not?

-Debbie
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Old 11-20-2012, 07:41 PM   #6
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Just reread Harold Underdown's article on this. His indication is that you shouldn't go to great lengths to find the name of someone who won't recognize your name. That means the faithful blog reading if you comment occasionally and the conference stand (editors often present specific requirements as part of their sessions, follow that), but my other two examples may not be enough to warrant using a name. Here's the link. http://www.underdown.org/editors-names.htm
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Old 11-20-2012, 09:12 PM   #7
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I've heard the opposite advice, especially if you can address the editor in a specific way. For example: heard them at a conference, quoting an interview online, read their blog faithfully, know your work fits with exactly what they have done and are looking for. So why not?

-Debbie
Because that probably isn't what the submissions guidelines say. Publishers have a system for dealing with unsolicited manuscripts, and editors already have plenty of mail to deal with, so most of them specifically ask for it to go to one address, where it can be filtered and then rationed out to the right person. If your work is indeed a perfect fit for Editor B, and it's not obviously unpublishable, it'll find its way to that person.

It's annoying to have a stack of mail to work through at the start of the day in case it's high-priority stuff - stuff from agents or authors you are working with already - and then find that 90% of it is strangers pitching their books at you. If everything comes via the slushpile system, I know exactly how to prioritise the various tasks I have to get through in any given day.

Speaking purely for myself, personalising your query/cover letter doesn't work on me. I tend to put it in the category of flattery/scraping acquaintance/irrelevant; what I'm interested in is the book, not whether you like my blog or not, and I'm probably already mildly annoyed that you ignored the instructions I specifically set out for how to contact us. If you follow the guidelines, you can't go too far wrong.
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Old 11-20-2012, 10:31 PM   #8
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If you follow the guidelines, you can't go too far wrong.

Learn it, live it, know it.
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Old 11-20-2012, 11:26 PM   #9
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I've only ever done this following meeting the editor, chatting at a con, or some other writerly event. The editors who've come talk to my writing group have often been open to direct submissions from group members after meeting us.
And for me it worked, because one editor, introduced by a mutual friend at a con, liked one of my novels enough to make me an offer I couldn't refuse.
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Old 11-21-2012, 12:48 AM   #10
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Yes, I've done it successfully, and I know several other writers who have done the same. Many doors in publishing are closed, but very, very few of them are locked. Do anything well enough, including writing queries, and you can attract interest.

But if you don't do it well enough, if your query isn't up to snuff, or, worse, if the editor asks for the manuscript, and it isn't really good, you will not sit well with that editor.

Editors are human, they need talent, and it's all about how you approach one, and how good your writing is.

By and large, I'd say find an agent. Good agents make things easier, and here's the thing, if you can't write well enough to convince a good agent to represent you, what makes you think an overworked editor is going to be any easier? He'll be much tougher to convince, not easier.
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Old 12-14-2012, 05:08 PM   #11
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I interested two editors at a writing conference and am now waiting on responses to partials, but ordinarily I think agents are the way to go. Even if you get a contract, you'll most likely end up with an agent to help you handle things.

A good thing about having editor interest, though, is that you can say so in your queries to agents, which might make them more inclined to put your query on top of the pile. Doesn't mean you'll get any more requests though, especially if your query isn't up to snuff.
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