When A Literary Agent Says That They Don't Accept Unsolicited Manuscripts, What Do They Mean?


2 Answers

Louise Gorman Profile
Louise Gorman answered
An unsolicited manuscript is basically a manuscript that hasn't been asked for. In other words, it is an uninvited manuscript. There are many publishers and agents who do not accept unsolicited material.

The reason for this is because agents and publishers receive dozens of samples each week, and so they request that authors do not send unsolicited material so that they are not swamped.

An enquiry letter would be the best way to approach an agent who does not accept unsolicited material, or perhaps a phone call. This saves hassle for both the agent and the author, as the agent won't have to look through a manuscript that hasn't been asked for and the author doesn't have to waste their time compiling the manuscript to be sent off.

There are agents who do accept unsolicited material, asking for authors to submit samples with a covering letter and a synopsis.
Melinda Michael Profile
Melinda Michael answered
To add to the very good advice given above, it's also worth making sure that the agent you're considering submitting to actually has an interest in the type of writing you do, before making any kind of contact.

Checking agency websites and looking at what each agent lists as their personal fields of interest is the best way to do this. For example, if you write literary fiction, and approach an agent who is only interested in commercial women's fiction, then that would be a waste of time for both of you.

It's also worth knowing that very few (if any) agents represent writers who only write short stories or poetry.

Finally, if sending a query letter or email, make sure to get the agent's name right and to make your enquiry sound personal to them. It's not unknown for literary agents to use Twitter to make fun of silly errors they've spotted in submissions or queries, and while errors certainly do make an impression, it's probably the wrong impression!

Answer Question