Getting Novels Published Without an Agent: Magic Bullet Q&A for Writers

Q: Do you know of any writers who have gotten at least
two novels published without the aid of an agent, excluding vanity
presses—only small press through university through NY press?
—Jim Harris

A: The first author who comes to mind is Steve Almond, thought
he doesn't strictly fit your description. He published three books,
including the nonfiction work Candyfreak (Algonquin) and
the short-story collection My Life in Heavy Metal (Grove
Atlantic), without the benefit of an agent. You can read some of
his success story right here at Identity Theory, in a Robert
Birnbaum interview
.

Almond wrote a piece for Poets & Writers in early
2004, "Are Agents Necessary?" He has made
this piece available
on his home site. (You can read some of
the feedback to his article here: http://www.pw.org/mag/0403/letters.htm.)
At the time, he wished for a world in which authors and editors
could work together in harmony without the interference of an agent.
He said, "Fellow writers almost always assume that I don't
have an agent because I can't find one. ... I then have to explain
that I don't have an agent because I don't want one, which causes
them even more confusion."

I noticed, however, in April 2006 via PublishersMarketplace.com,
that Almond's most recent work was sold by agent Jeff Kellogg. I
don't know if Almond has changed his mind about agents, but it does
seem to mark a departure from his earlier philosophy.

I'm sure there are more examples of authors who sold their first
two novels without an agent. If any readers know of a good example
or a good story, write me at editorfriedman (at) mac (dot) com.

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