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Notes 1-3. Large commercial publishers won't consider manuscripts unless they are represented by a literary agent. Agents get 200+ manuscripts a month, so your query letter and synopsis are critical. Note: some small independent presses DO accept unagented manuscripts.

Since self-publishing is open to anyone, regardless of the quality of the manuscript, there's a flood of books available that will have little or no readership. On the other hand, publishers/agents reject 99 percent of submissions--many of which are worthy of publication--as self-publishing authors are discovering.

The key here is to match your publishing decisions with your goals and to make sure your manuscript is in tip-top shape before you submit to literary agents/publishers or self-publish.