"Solicited" Manuscripts


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Thread: "Solicited" Manuscripts

  1. #1
    Member J.R. Morin's Avatar
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    "Solicited" Manuscripts

    I keep reading that Literary Agents will not take on new clients unless the work they are "solicited"... what does that mean? And if it means what I think it means, how does anyone get an agent if all manuscripts need to be "solicited"?

  2. #2
    All it means is you need to tweak the agent's (or publisher's, if submitting directly to them) attention with a short, but devastatingly-brilliant query that describes your opus in a couple of well-crafted 'graphs. Check out agentquery.com thoroughly. It'll explain the whole process, with examples. (If an agent asks for money, except a percentage post-sale, you picked the wrong agent. Keep looking and vet them via the Absolute Write Bewares board, Preditors & Editors and Writer Beware. Google is your friend.)

    The agent, now intrigued by your brilliant query, requests the first 50 pages (or hallelujah! - the whole ms!).

    You are now the proud owner of a solicited manuscript. Congratulations.

    Good luck.

  3. #3
    Member J.R. Morin's Avatar
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    OHHHHHHH so thats what that means. I thought it meant the publisher had to request my manuscript, and only then would an agent be interested in me. But this makes much more sense. Thanks Eraser!

  4. #4
    It means that your work must be sent to a publishing house with the backing of an agent. If not, the publisher won't even give it a first glance. There are some publishing houses which still accept unsolicited manuscripts, though. If you don't want an agent, do a search for those publishers which accept work that isn't backed by an agent.
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  5. #5
    You're welcome, J.R.

    Sam, you don't quite have it right. Whether you wish to attract an agent or a publisher, the process is the same: Craft a tantalizing, one-page query and send it to the agent/pub of your choice. If they are intrigued, they will request more. That request means your work has been solicited.

    Some publishers will say they accept no un-agented mss. That differs from "unsolicited." If you want those folks to publish your opus, then you'd best channel your efforts towards attracting an agent first.

    Don't let the word "unsolicited" scare you off. It just means they want you to ask (via the query) for permission to send your work.

    But at that point of the process, the query becomes more important than your ms. You must polish it until it gleams, with not a single, extraneous word. Agentquery.com is a fine source for anyone wishing to know more about the process.

  6. #6
    Baron
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    Quote Originally Posted by eraser View Post
    You're welcome, J.R.

    Sam, you don't quite have it right. Whether you wish to attract an agent or a publisher, the process is the same: Craft a tantalizing, one-page query and send it to the agent/pub of your choice. If they are intrigued, they will request more. That request means your work has been solicited.

    Some publishers will say they accept no un-agented mss. That differs from "unsolicited." If you want those folks to publish your opus, then you'd best channel your efforts towards attracting an agent first.

    Don't let the word "unsolicited" scare you off. It just means they want you to ask (via the query) for permission to send your work.

    But at that point of the process, the query becomes more important than your ms. You must polish it until it gleams, with not a single, extraneous word. Agentquery.com is a fine source for anyone wishing to know more about the process.
    To a publisher an unsolicited query is anything that doesn't come through an agent. Sam is right. When approaching an agent the usual form is to send the query letter with a synopsis and the first three chapters of the novel. If the agents are interested then they'll ask for more.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Baron View Post
    To a publisher an unsolicited query is anything that doesn't come through an agent. Sam is right. When approaching an agent the usual form is to send the query letter with a synopsis and the first three chapters of the novel. If the agents are interested then they'll ask for more.
    Ah, you must not be in North America. Every agent/pub has slightly different guidelines here and some want what you describe, but most won't request a synopsis and chapters unless the query has done its job. And only the Big 5 (as they used to be called) require agented submissions. Most small and medium-sized houses (and many imprints of the large ones) can be approached directly by the writer. At least, that's how I sold mine.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by bobbypyn View Post
    If an agent requests the first 50 pages, is there traditionally renumeration involved at this point or is it still speculative at that point? Like being handled on contingency?
    95%* of bona fide agents (in North America) don't get a penny until the work has been sold to a publisher. At that point, they will receive 15% (usually) of the author's advance and future royalties. Some also bill for office expenses (mailing, faxes etc.) but that will be spelled out in your contract and is usually limited to a set amount, say $100 in a year.

    As a general rule, if an agent asks for money upfront, you're dealing with the wrong person. (Again, at least in NA.)

    *Pulled figure out of my butt. But it's in the ballpark.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by eraser View Post
    You're welcome, J.R.

    Sam, you don't quite have it right. Whether you wish to attract an agent or a publisher, the process is the same: Craft a tantalizing, one-page query and send it to the agent/pub of your choice. If they are intrigued, they will request more. That request means your work has been solicited.

    Some publishers will say they accept no un-agented mss. That differs from "unsolicited." If you want those folks to publish your opus, then you'd best channel your efforts towards attracting an agent first.

    Don't let the word "unsolicited" scare you off. It just means they want you to ask (via the query) for permission to send your work.

    But at that point of the process, the query becomes more important than your ms. You must polish it until it gleams, with not a single, extraneous word. Agentquery.com is a fine source for anyone wishing to know more about the process.
    All due respect, it is you who doesn't have it quite right. Solicited work means that the novel is being 'pushed' by an agent. In other words, the agent is working for you to try to secure the best deal with a publishing house. S/he usually takes 10% of royalties earned. Any agent who asks for money upfront is bogus. Just because you send a query to a publishing house, it doesn't mean you are now a solicited author.
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    "One morning I shot an elephant in my pyjamas. How he got into my pyjamas I'll never know." ~ Groucho Marx.

    "It is better to be feared than loved, if one cannot be both". ~ Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince.

    "A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer". ~ Bruce Lee.

    "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's mind there are few". ~ Shunryu Suzuki.

    "Give a man a mask and he will show you his true face". ~ Oscar Wilde.

    "He who learns but does not think is lost; he who thinks but does not learn is in great danger". ~ Confucius.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Sam W View Post
    All due respect, it is you who doesn't have it quite right. Solicited work means that the novel is being 'pushed' by an agent. In other words, the agent is working for you to try to secure the best deal with a publishing house. S/he usually takes 10% of royalties earned. Any agent who asks for money upfront is bogus. Just because you send a query to a publishing house, it doesn't mean you are now a solicited author.
    Maybe we should just chalk it up to semantics and the fact that things differ between the US and Canada, and wherever it is you are. :)

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