Seek Representation Or Go It Alone?

“Will I still be alive when I finally receive a positive response to accepting my work?” You may ask this after approaching numerous Galleries or Publishers over a period of time. It’s very frustrating – I know only too well!

In today’s changing climate in the Art World and the Publishing Industry, many creative’s are asking themselves, “Would my work lose credibility if I don’t go the traditional route and seek a Publisher or an Art Gallery to represent me?”

Approaching a Publisher or Art Gallery is a subject for another Blog, I only want to consider the question of representation VS selling your work yourself today and make some pointers to help you to decide whether you stand to lose any credibility. At the very least I intend to assist you in deciding which avenue is the best for you.

Galleries and Publishers receive hundreds of submissions every week from hopeful Authors and Artists, but only consider those who are most likely to make them the most money.

For a Gallery you have to have a consistent body of work, i.e. clearly depicting the same style that identifies you specifically from the others in all your art-pieces. They also require that you produce sufficient work to sustain ongoing sales. Publishers are looking for that next big thing! You may think your book is unique and has a completely original concept, but Publishers aren’t always willing to take on the risk of producing something other than they have experience in knowing will definitely sell.

The truth is that even if you are represented by another professional company you still have to do a lot of marketing and self-promotion to create an awareness of your work and consequently drive sales.

The better connected you are on the web, the more exposure your work exudes and the more sales you are making adds to the value of your application at a Gallery. So if you have done well to get this far on your own, do you need the Gallery that will take a huge commission at all? Likewise for a Publishing house – you will get a small royalty per book sale.

This sounds like I am advocating to go it alone and join the ranks of the millions of Indie authors and artists out there! Not so, it is entirely up to the individual and their preferences. Sometimes it has happened that writers and artists get noticed through their own marketing efforts and are offered a contract or representation by Galleries and Publishers.

To assist you in making the choice of whether to pursue the traditional houses only or to give it a whirl by yourself, I have broken the aspects down as follows:

Seeking Traditional Representation:


  1. Galleries already have lists of Collectors seeking new work.
  2. Publishers are able to get your book into traditional book-stores more easily than you are.
  3. Larger distribution numbers. (Publishing or Art print Sellers)


  1. They take on only a few emerging artists or first-time authors.
  2. They can take a long time to accept your work and in Publishing can take 18 – 24 months until the book is on the market after signing a deal.
  3. They take a hefty commission or pay small royalties on sales.
  4. They have different submission guidelines – I.e. Art Galleries may request specific submission channels and Publishing Houses may only regard submissions from Literary Agents.
  5. You have less control of the Pricing of your work.

If you are someone who prefers to leave the selling to another professional, then this is the right route for you and you should research appropriate Galleries and Publishers to suit the genre of your work and then approach them according to their specific guidelines.

N.B. Many online Galleries exist to showcase your work, not only the brick and mortar ones in your local area.

Going It Alone:


  1. You take the majority share in each sale.
  2. You determine the price of your work.
  3. Collectors and Readers have a more personal interaction with the Artist or Author.
  4. You create and upload new pieces at your own convenience, i.e. there is less pressure to meet gallery requirements.
  5. You can generate more income from sales of prints of your Art as well as the originals and you can sell e-book versions of your book as well as printed ones.
  6. Your unique concept can be put into the marketplace more easily.
  7. You can produce work for small niche markets.
  8. POD – You only pay for a print when it is ordered.


  1. A lot of time needs to be spent on marketing and promotion.
  2. You have to build your own Viewer and Collector Lists or Reader Audience.
  3. You may not get your book into regular bookshops as easily as traditional publishers do.
  4. Potential smaller distribution  – although you don’t waste money printing books or artworks unless they are ordered. – POD (Print-On-Demand) system offered by many online portals.

With all the social media networks available in this Information Age, we can easily promote our brand as an Artist or an Author, communicate directly with our audience and effectively sell our work on the various portals at our disposal or on our own websites.

You can hold your own exhibitions, feature at art shows, enter competitions, forums and groups pertaining to your subject of interest and you can create events of your own to promote your book or art. (Read another article I wrote related to ideas of how to promote and sell your art)

Have you made your mind up yet which suits you?

The choice is yours to make and yours only! Decide what is right for you and pursue it with all you’ve got! Why not keep an open mind and give both a try? Upload your books for sale (e.g. Amazon) and your art (e.g. Fine Art America) on as many places as you wish and test the waters while you await the response from the traditional houses.

Connect and communicate with other like-minded people on the web and build your brand. The opportunities are all there for us, how lucky we are to be alive right now!

You’re a talented person and there is enough sky for all the stars to shine!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s