I submitted the manuscript of my first, never yet published, novel to a big writing contest whose outcome will only be revealed in December, and may lead to a publishing.

Now, I'm unsure of what to do next: just wait, hire an agent, and/or submit the manuscript to other publishers as well.

  • If I submit the manuscript to other publishers before contest's end, some of them might be interested in the book, what may be good for me, save time, and open doors, since I'll have to do it in the same way if I don't get anything in the end of the contest. The bad side is that, if I do win something, I'll have to say no if somebody else is interested.

  • If I hire an agent not knowing the outcome, it also might be good if nothing comes out from the contest. On the other hand, if I get the book published because of the contest I'll have to share everything, including the prize.

Since you probably are much more experienced in publishing than I, in this context, what do you think it will be better: just wait, submit the book to other publishers, and/or hire an agent?

  • 2
    Do the terms of the contest dictate any sort of exclusivity? What kind of contract would you get if the organizers want to publish your book?
    – Standback
    Commented Jun 11, 2013 at 16:25
  • Exclusivity only for publishing. By that I mean that, at the end of the contest, the book can't have been published yet or compromised with some other publisher. Commented Jun 11, 2013 at 18:44

1 Answer 1


First: you can't just "hire" a reputable agent. The only agents that allow you to buy representation outright are effectively running a scam to defraud new writers of their money, and you should not go to any of them. Instead, you query agents and tell them about your novel, and if they're interested they will offer you representation. The process of querying agents takes about as long and has about as much chance of success as the process of submitting to publishers.

I suggest that you wait until the contest results are in before you start querying agents or publishers. Most novel contests that have publication as a prize include terms that preclude you from selling or marketing the novel anywhere else, which means that if you do win you'll be in a very awkward position with any publishers or agents who have shown interest, with possible legal repercussions. Wait until the contest is over, then shop around.

Note that basically all agents and publishers allow for "simultaneous submissions", meaning that you can send your initial query and submission materials to as many agents/publishers as you'd like at the same time. If one of them is interested, they'll then ask for a period of exclusivity.

  • It's kinda of hard to me to know how reputable an agent is. But I was thinking in some kind of simultaneous submissions since until a contract is signed, there's no bound. Of course, I would wait until the end of the contest to sign anything but I was wondering if, the contest turn in nothing, I could already save some time by making simultaneous submissions and feeling my options. Commented Jun 11, 2013 at 18:47
  • 1
    "How can I tell whether an agent is legit" would be a very good question for Writers.se :). Commented Jun 11, 2013 at 23:40

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