Should You Send Your Manuscript to Publishers or Literary Agents?

Q: I’m 16 years old and I [am completing] my first novel. It’s somewhat experimental. I am wondering if I should send queries to an agent, or just skip the agent and send them to a publisher. -Iman

This depends on both the agent and the publisher. Some agents handle “experimental” fiction, but many don’t – they’re often published by more literary, or smaller, publishers; and you don’t need an agent to approach those publishers. If you do think this is the kind of book that a bigger house would be interested in handling (the best way of determining this is to find another book that has some kind of real similarity to yours – if there isn’t anything like it out there, that may be a problem because a publisher, large or small, might not know how to market/sell such a book), then it’s best to try finding an agent to represent you – and the best way of finding that agent is to read the acknowledgments section of the book that is similar to yours, and write that agent a short, concise, clear letter making it clear that you’re writing to the agent because of his/her representation of the other book.

Jeff Kleinman, Literary Agent
Co-Founder of
Folio Literary Management