Now I'd like to talk about the next myth some new writers think is necessary to become a published author.
MYTH #2...YOU NEED AN AGENT TO GET A FOOT IN THE DOOR
I worked hard my first year as a "professional" writer to strengthen my writing skills. I also started setting goals for my writing career and one of those goals was to land an agent. I thought the ONLY way to become an author was to find an agent willing to represent me and then THEY would magically get my stories published.
I was wrong.
There are many larger publishing houses that won't consider an unagented submission, but there are still ways for writers today to get their work in front of a publisher. Here are some of the opportunities I have come across over the years where writers don't need an agent to get noticed by a publishing house...
1) WRITE ON CON (http://www.writeoncon.com)...a FREE, week long writers conference usually held in August and including things like critique forums, guest speakers, twitter pitches, editor chats and chances to pitch to publishing houses.
2) PITCHMAS (http://www.pitchmas.blogspot.com)...Twitter pitch forum under #Pitchmas usually held twice a year in July and December. Agents and publishers requests manuscripts pitched during a one day pitch party and even publishing houses not normally open to unagented submissions will occasionally sign on to read the pitches.
3) PITMAD (http://www.brenda-drake.com/pitmad)...Twitter pitch party held four times a year under #Pitmad and hosted by author Brenda Drake where writers pitch their completed manuscripts to agents and editors. This is where I met my editor, Jessica Schmeidler, from Anaiah Press and where my story went from a twitter pitch to a book contract in SIX DAYS!
4) #MSWL (http://www.twitter.com)...Twitter forum where agents and publishers list their manuscript "wish lists". Just do a search for #MSWL and the wish lists will pop up. Just make sure to research any agents or publishing houses before submitting and ALWAYS follow the publishing house's guidelines to make sure your manuscript has the best chance at being considered.
For those of you interested in pursuing agency representation, here are a couple of ways to bypass the slush pile as well as some agents looking to add to their client list...
1) JULIE HEDLUND'S 12 X 12 FORUM (http://www.juliehedlund.com)...in my humble opinion, probably one of THE best pipelines to get your work into the hands of agents. Registration is closed for this year but any writer serious about their career and interested in finding an agent should definitely check this forum out!
2) RATE YOUR STORY (http://www.rateyourstory.blogspot.com)...not only can you receive FREE professional critique ratings on your picture book stories up to 2000 words, creator Miranda Paul also provides membership levels where writers can receive special newsletters loaded with contests and insider links to agent opportunities.
3) AGENT WHITLEY ABELL (http://www.inklingsliterary.com)...newer agent looking for Middle Grade, Young Adult and select Upmarket Women's fiction. She loves mythology, heartbreaking contemporary novels, historical suspense, and cute romantic comedies.
4) AGENT ALEXANDER SLATER (http://www.tridentmediagroup.com)...established agent looking for children's, middle grade, and young adult fiction and nonfiction.
5) AGENT RENEE NYEN (http://www.ktliterary.com)...newer agent looking for Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction. She is interested in YA historical fition, mystery, science fiction, and thrillers.
For myself, I am searching for agent to partner with because it is right decision for my future writing career. However, I encourage every writer out there looking to become published to do their due diligence and research the market. Maybe you aren't looking for agent representation. While a writer can still become a published author without one, like I did, there are still huge advantages to being represented by an agent so make the decision that is right for YOU and remember no matter what path you choose...agented or free lance...it STILL all starts with a great story!
What other opportunities, publishing houses open to unagented submissions, or agents looking for new clients have I missed? Add to my list by commenting below...