Posted by: nancyisanders | September 19, 2012

Agents: Market Guide

Everyone complains that it’s impossible to get a children’s book published these days because every publisher requires agented submissions. This simply is not true. Even the big houses send acquisitions editors to SCBWI conferences where they will pick up your manuscript if they find merit in it.

There are also numerous smaller houses who take unagented submissions. In fact, some publishers prefer not to work with an agent. They may not be able to pay fees that cover an agent’s expense. They like working with first time authors and have carefully prepared author’s packet to help with the learning curve.

So, if you’re looking for a publisher, create your own market guide like the one I’ve made for myself.

I made my own market guide.

I made one section of my market guide have pages of publishers who DO NOT REQUIRE agents.

I made the second section of my market guide have pages of publishers who REQUIRE an agent.

Here’s what you can do to make your own market guide:
Go through current market guides and find publishers who DO NOT say they only take submissions from agents. Then photocopy their page in your market guide and put it into YOUR OWN MARKET GUIDE. Keep these in alphabetical order.

Also, if you’re a beginning author, look for publishers from these who say that some of their books are by first time authors. This means they accept submissions from first time authors.

Making this guide of your own will help you feel much more empowered to submit manuscripts. Even if you have only 3-5 pages here in your very own guide, there are still 3-5 publishers who DO take submissions from authors and who you can study and target and submit to.

Also, if you are interested in working with an agent, either if you already have one or if you are going to look for one, create a section in your market guide for publishers who only accept agented submissions. It’s good to get to know these publishers if you hope to work with an agent.

In my guide, I made one section start from one side of my 3-ring notebook. Then I made the other section start from the other side. It’s like 2 guides in the same notebook with one being upside from the other.

Now, the reason this is a good kind of market guide to make for yourself is because for all those publishers that interest you but who only accept agents, you can put them here in one place if you start working with an agent. AND if you’re not yet working with an agent, you won’t get as frustrated looking for publishers in your very own guide of JUST publishers who don’t require agents.

For more tips on creating your own market guide to help you as you’re looking for an agent and looking at publishers who require an agent,


  1. This is a great idea, Nancy. I also think that as writers compile their own market guides, they’re more likely to pay close attention to what each publisher or agent really wants, rather than making blanket submissions without checking guidelines closely.

    • You’re right, Beth! There are so many benefits to going through this process…it’s really worth the time it takes.

  2. wonderful idea!
    thank you for posting it!
    your posts are always so informative and inspiring.
    you are truly an inspiration to me!

    • Oh I’m so glad this is helpful to you and that you’re inspired. :o)

  3. Great idea. I could use something similar but a little different as I’m writing and marketing my memoir. Some agents treat them like nonfiction — i.e. they want to see queries and book proposals when only a few chapters have been finished so they can guide the completion. Other agents treat memoirs like fiction — i.e. they don’t want to see a query until the manuscript is completed to prove that the writer can take it to the finish line.

    So, my personal market guide would divide up agents to query soon and others that I wouldn’t query until my first draft is done.

    • Oh I love how you’re personalizing your market guide!!! Thanks for sharing.

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