Publishers Weekly carries the announcement today that NIU Press is adding an imprint to focus on literary fiction set in or about the Midwest and written by authors with significant ties to the region. NIU said Switchgrass (the imprint) is “committed to enhancing the cultural landscape of the Midwest”
Well, my thoughts briskly turned to who I've got on my list that's from the Midwest, until my eye reaches this sentence:
According to Alex Schwartz, NIU Press/Switchgrass Books director, agented manuscripts will not be accepted for consideration, in order to provide both emerging and established writers a venue to “have their Midwestern voices heard.”
WTF?? Last time I looked my job IS to get my authors heard so I'm not sure why they think BARRING agented mss from consideration is a good choice. Even if they just opened the incoming query guidelines to include unagented writers, they'd be better off.
Presses that don't like agents make me very very suspicious.
So, if you send stuff to these guys let me know how it goes.
And if you get an offer remember to NEVER sign an agreement with anyone unless you have it reviewed by a person familiar with publishing contracts. That doesn't have to be an agent. Contract review specialists or lawyers work just fine too.