There are a few disadvantages to going this route.
• Many larger publishers only take agented submissions
• You’ll have to negotiate your own contract.
• There will be nobody to fight your corner if things go wrong.
In short you will effectively be doing the role of an agent yourself. But if this is something you feel you can manage then it is a perfectly viable option. There are plenty of publishers out there, many of which may, at sometime or other, be willing to take a look at unagented submissions. So in order to help you to find yourself a publisher I’ve listed below a few possible opportunities to watch out for.
• Small publishers who routinely take un-agented submissions
These vary considerably, some being better than others. Often they don’t offer advances and the royalties can differ. Also many may be e-publishers and only offer print runs if a certain threshold of sales are reached or use POD technology, in which case your books are unlikely to make it into bricks and mortar bookstores. My best advice here is to do your research. I’ve talked about some of the things you need to consider before signing in another post here.
• Imprints of larger publishing houses
Some of the bigger publishers have imprints which are open to un-agented submissions. Very often these imprints are genre specific. Here is a useful list of some of them.
• Open submission windows
Keep an eye out for publishers with open submission windows. They crop up from time to time. They do tend to get inundated but you never know. You could be just what they’re looking for.
• Twitter pitch parties
These happen on a regular basis and it’s a good exercise anyway distilling your pitch down to the side of a tweet. However a word of caution – do check out any agents/editors that show an interest very thoroughly before submitting anything to them.
Make the effort to get out there and meet people, be it literary festivals or writers conferences. For example book a slot for a 1-2-1 with an editor at a literary festival. (Go into these to learn something rather than expecting a book deal, but that editor could prove to be a useful contact). You never know when you might meet someone who you can submit directly to further down the line.