Although there is no one, sure route to getting traditionally published, there is one, much-more-traveled route and that’s working with an agent. It’s how I sold my first manuscript to St. Martin’s Press and it’s how every single one of my author friends found their publishing success as well. So I would definitely recommend finding an agent first. And here’s why: Agents serve as the “filters” of the publishing industry. They read everything and filter out the stuff they think will sell so editors don’t have to. So when an editor receives a submission directly from an agent, as opposed to from an author, they know that agent spent many hours sifting through submissions before they found something that they thought was really good. And this makes the editor much more excited and eager to read it.
Not to mention the fact that most major publishing houses these days will NOT accept unsolicited material (meaning, manuscripts not originating from an agent) and even if you do happen to get it into the hands of an editor, most likely your manuscript will end up in a large pile (referred to as the “slush pile”) along with tons of other manuscripts that have been labeled, “will read when I get around to it”. Well, it could be months, maybe even years before that happens. On the other hand, when an editor receives a manuscript from an agent, they know that manuscript is probably in the hands of several other editors around town and the whole “snooze you lose” concept rings in the back of their mind. Not wanting to miss out on the “next big thing,” they’re going to rush to read it and make it a priority.
To put it in perspective: It took me two years to finally find an agent to represent The Fidelity Files and once I did, she sold the manuscript in 10 days. That’s the difference an agent makes.
For more on finding agents, writing query letters, and selling your book to a major publisher, check out my online course!