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I know it normally takes several months to get an agent and then a contract. But are there any shortcuts, any particular companies that one can submit to directly and get a much faster evaluation? Or can it only happen by luck?

Note: by 'finished writing' I mean you've finished writing, revising and editing it.

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  • As a new writer you'll be lucky to have it sold within one or two years.
    – EvilSnack
    Mar 11 '19 at 4:09
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An answer you'll like, then one you won't.


If they like your opening chapters then an agent will often get back to you asking for a full manuscript within days, rather than weeks.

Follwing that, if they like the full manuscript then they are likely to want to sign you asap, before someone else snaps you up.

However, once you are signed, there's no reason your book will move any faster from agent to publishing deal - unless you're writing about something that is extremely time sensitive - say a book with a unique scoop about the latest accusations of corruption for a major public figure (though I'm sure I can't think of any of those).

You could go directly to the publisher

Talent rises to the top, so if your novel is exceptional then a publisher may well sign you directly, which could cut out the whole agent process. Beware though, there's a reason people have agents - to ensure they are represented fairly and get a good deal.

Self publishing

When you say 'sell a book' it's unclear whether your motivation is money or publication. If your main aim is to just get your work in front of hungry reader eyes as quickly as possible, then self-publishing might be the best route. It will be far faster than the traditional route.

Shortcuts

Your question puts me in mind of this classic quote from Pinky and the Brain: "We don't want a get-rich-quick-scheme, we just need a lot of money - fast."

There is a reason these things take as long as they do, and everybody would bypass slowdowns if they could. You may have to accept that unless you really are unarguably a genius of prose, you're probably going to have to pay your dues like everyone else.

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Most (big) publishers don't take unsolicited manuscripts, so, depending on the publisher, you may find you have to get an agent first, and (good) agents often want to edit before submitting to publishers. That takes time. My agents spent a year on mine!

The answer really depends on how 'finished' your book is.

Doors to agents and publishers can slam shut if you rush a submission and it's not there yet. It's much better to be 100% sure that your book is as perfect as it can be before you submit.

I would recommend finding a team of beta readers because they will feedback on issues that you might not be aware of yourself. We often can't see the wood for the trees in our own work.

The other option is a paid editorial if 'evaluation' is what you are looking for. Agents and publishers don't have time to provide feedback and usually respond with stock responses. If you look at my answer on this question:

Are agents too busy for new clients? What should I do next?

you'll see the rejections I got for my first novel and the kind of 'evaluations' you can expect.

For proper professional evaluations of my work, I've used The Literary Consultancy in the past and they were EXCELLENT, but they are expensive. If you don't have the funds, beta readers are an alternative.

But, on the whole, it's impossible to say without reading your novel. It is hard to dispassionately evaluate our own work because we are too close to it. It may be ready to submit, but I would be nervous about assuming that of my own work without a good number of qualified people reading it first. Not family, not friends.

I have a team of writers, creative writing professors, and radio drama experts who evaluate my work before submission. They are cut throat when it comes to feedback and would never hold back negative criticism to spare my feelings. I 'pay' for this help by doing the same in return for their work. It gives me a clearer assessment of the readiness of my work. It isn't something I would attempt to judge myself.

Good luck!

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