Wednesday, February 7, 2007

How Many Submissions?

QUESTION: Are you saying about twelve submissions is enough to give up on a project? If you've sent to the major players, do you then consider small houses, or is this the point that you lose the enthusiasm for the book? I'd love to hear about the book with 50 submissions.

I know you mean well, but I find it hard to believe that you have found my blog and don't know that there are only seven major publishers in America (actually, most of them are international conglomorates). This happened over a decade ago. All the entertainment businesses have merged to become giant media companies. It's old news. That's why it's so hard to get published now.

So, if you have a novel, there are seven major New York publishers, and two or three major/minor publishers.

If you've written nonfition, there are as many as 15. That's it.

Agents make their living on commssion, which means we get %15 of your advance. The vast majority of us cannot afford to do business with companies that pay less than $5000 advances, which is what happens when you venture into the small and niche publishers.

When I started as an agent in 1987, there were 23 publishers.

The book that was rejected by 50 publishers was rejected over a 16 year period. And, it turns out, the house that bought it was a minor New York publisher that got much bigger in that decade and a half. (I will write up that whole story soon, but it is not something I want to do again, and it is not something you should expect of your agent.)


Tyhitia Green said...

Thanks for the much needed info. I have to finish polishing my rewrite before I send my brainchild back into the world.

Unknown said...

You mean agents work for the money? I'm so disillusioned. I thought they all just slaved away endlessly from a pure and holy abiding love for the English language, to see only the best of literature into print, to...


Good points though, and I love the blog. Thanks for taking time to clue in newbies.

Faith Bicknell said...

So many publishers are merely parts of a bigger publisher. It's a lot like the gas/oil companies!

David said...

Even by 1987, the industry had shrunk considerably.

I recently found a list of publishers I came up with to send my first novel to, 12 years earlier. I posted about it here.

Anonymous said...

This is a good blog, but you shouldn't assume that what's Publishing 101 to you is obvious to writers, even writers with some experience. That's why people are reading this blog: to learn.

BernardL said...

Well, that explains a lot. So, in other words, all the agents out there have only seven houses to pitch a fiction proposal. I guess it also explains the upswing in vanity press POD places. :) With the limited market, it must be as tough for a new agent to make a living as it is for a new writer.

Anonymous said...

Okay, while it's true that there are only 7 publishing houses, there are dozens of 'imprints' within those houses. An agent can submit to more than one imprint within a house, at least in my experience. My agent sent my YA novel to 11 imprints at once.