Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"U" is for Unsolicited Manuscript

An unsolicited manuscript is a manuscript that's sent out to an agent or publisher that they haven't requested.

Why am I clarifying this?

Something people assume writers do, is that we finish our manuscripts and send them off in the mail to some big New York publisher, hoping to hear good news.  That's far from accurate for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that most of that is now done electronically.  Nowadays, a lot of publishers--especially the Big Six and other NY-based publishing houses--won't accept something they haven't requested to see themselves, or something someone other than an industry professional, i.e. an agent or perhaps one of their editors, hasn't pitched to them.

"And let me mail this off to someone who won't even read it!"
In other words, the average writer isn't going to hit up the post office and send mass amounts of paper to someone who will instantly send it back (if they're that lucky).  They'd need an agent first, which means querying (see my "Q" entry), so that agent can then pitch the writer's book to the publisher.

However, there are many publishers who do take unsolicited manuscripts!  This means that the writer can submit their work to the publisher directly.  Sure, they can have an agent, in which case the agent would take care of that for them, but it wouldn't be necessary.

Overall, the take-home message is to check first with the publisher to find out their submission guidelines.  Do they accept unsolicited manuscripts or not?  Most of their websites are very clear about their guidelines, so writers should consider themselves informed if they've done any research on it at all.

How about you?  Have you submitted an unsolicited manuscript anywhere before?  What happened?

xoxo Sarah


  1. If aspirant writers knew the realities of becoming a published author, I think most of the novels that have 'made it' would never have been written. I have just sent off the first 'unsolicited' in ages, because I am frustrated by the limitations of the small publishers who have taken my novels. One must keep trying! Meanwhile, the e-book route is one to keep one's eys on.

    1. Very true...just have to keep on trying! I'll be at that stage soon, and I have mixed feelings about it. Oh well!

  2. Good topic! Few have mentioned this and it's important! :0)

    1. Very true...though I wish it was more like the movies, where I could throw a MS in the trash, have someone find it and mail it in to a Big Six pub, and receive a random phone call telling me that I'll be getting a seven-figure advance. That would be nice...