Wednesday, October 3, 2012

How I got two book deals without an agent

I’ve been at the publishing game since I first started writing for local magazines and newspapers way back in the 90s, and I know how tough it is to find a good agent. As a matter of fact, I still haven’t found one. But I have managed to get my last two novels published. Here’s how I did it.

Perseverance. I kept at it and kept at it until finally, someone said “yes!”

I tried breaking in by way of the literary magazine world. I read all the writer’s magazines and books and found the names of literary magazines that published in my genre. Pretty much all of my short stories were rejected, except for one—THE MUFFIN MAN, a story about a crooked lawyer who gets his just desserts, published by The Pedestal Magazine. So, I put all my stories into a book, SHADOWLAND, and published myself. It’s selling modestly well.

But the storyline of DIABLERO was burning a hole in my skull and I had to write it. So I did. Then, I found the names of all the agents that worked in my genre and fired off a great query letter and story synopsis.

After approximately 85 rejections, I decided I would try submitting to smaller publishers, ones that accepted submissions directly from authors.

More rejection. I rewrote and resubmitted. Lo and behold, just as I was about to throw in the towel, I got two manuscript requests from two different publishers, one of whom made an offer to publish. I did the obligatory happy dance and accepted. 

Six months later, another publisher offered to put out the e-book version. Cha-ching! Things were looking good.

Fast forward to one year later. I had just finished my second novel, a sequel to the first. Alas, my current print publisher wasn’t interested in sequels and my e-book publisher wasn’t dealing with the “big box” distributors. I wanted to keep my characters and I wanted a bigger audience. So, off to agent land again.

Another cyberwall full of rejection letters later, I decided to try some large indie publishers. More rejection. I was about to throw in the towel again when lo and behold, DarkFuse makes an offer on my second book. Hallelujah!  Now my book would not only be available in paperback and e-book, but also in hardcover. And they deal with all the major distributors! 

And I did it all without an agent.

Don’t get me wrong. I would love to have an agent. Any that are interested, have your people contact mine and we’ll do lunch. Until then, I’ll stick with perserverance.


  1. Congrats to you. That's awesome!

  2. Congratulations that's great. This is just another way of how the publishing game is changing.


  3. Thanks Damian. You're right - with the advent of so many smaller publishing houses, authors can break in without having to try to woo an agent with the promise of massive cash flow.

  4. Thanks Sharon. Love Absolute Write! It's a great place for authors.

  5. Congrats dude! Also saw your post on AW. I'm thinking about submitting to DarkFuse as well. I got this tentacle erotic horror I wanna publish, but I dunno if DarkFuse does erotica... Boutique horror publishers bring out the reformed-goth fangirl in me, ha!

    Don't blame you for striking out on your own (in regards to querying agents) My first novel is still tied up in unanswered full requests. Annoying. I might give DarkFuse a try thanks to your blog. Thanks. And good luck. :)

    ~Cheers from the Vegetarian Cannibal

  6. Thanks V.C.! As far as I know, DarkFuse publishes any kind of dark fiction as long as it is well-written, but of course I can't speak for them. Sounds interesting, though. I say give it a try - they are accepting queries from authors.

  7. Your perseverance is an inspiration, Toby! Well done.

  8. I too saw your post on AW. Wishing you tons of success!