January 27th, 2012


Angry Robot's Unagented Author Search

Angry Robot is having their second "open door" period, where they are looking for unagented epic fantasy novels. They write on their website:

If you have completed a novel, and are unagented, between April 16th and 30th this year, we’ll happily read it for possible publication. If you are agented, this isn’t for you – submit via the usual route.

As exciting as this may sound to you new writers, I would recommend proceeding with caution. Nine times out of ten, if you show me a publisher specifically asking for unagented manuscripts, I'll show you a publisher looking to get over on writers, either through rights grabs, lowball advances, below industry standard royalties, or all three.

But let me be absolutely clear about this: I'm not saying this is what Angry Robot is doing. The truth is, I don't know much about Angry Robot. They could be absolutely stellar people, and entirely on the up and up. They publish some authors I know personally, and those authors haven't mentioned anything bad about the company. So let me repeat this before it turns into the usual drama-filled game of Internet telephone: I'm not implying that Angry Robot is trying to cheat or take advantage of writers. (And yes, I had to put that in bold because, Jesus Christ, the Internet.)

What I am saying, though, is to be careful. Go into something like this with your eyes open. Be aware that without an agent there's no one to fight on your behalf for a better deal. There's no one showing your manuscript to other publishers in order to get more than one house interested and a possible bidding war going; no one holding back certain rights, like film, audio, or foreign, to be sold separately for additional money; no one ensuring your intellectual property is protected and remains your own.

This is why I still think the best route is to have a good agent. (Not just any agent, mind you. A good agent. One who knows what he or she is doing and has the necessary connections. A dealmaker, in other words, not someone who just submits books for you.) Still, if you're thinking of submitting an unagented epic fantasy novel to Angry Robot during this open door period, I say go for it. See what happens. Just be sure to go into it with your eyes open and your expectations earthbound. (And if they accept your novel, let us know how it goes!)