Mary Anne Mohanraj's first novel, THE ARRANGEMENT, following the life-cycle of an unconventional love triangle, and a collection of linked short stories, BODIES IN MOTION, tracing the emotional, sexual, geographic and relational history of two Sri Lankan families through the last half century, to Marjorie Braman at Harper, in a good deal, by Bob Mecoy at Creative Book Services (world). firstname.lastname@example.orgNotice how it's prioritized? Novels clearly win. :-)
I've also been getting a fair number of queries from various people who want to sell their book, just like I did. Now, I was really lucky in finding an agent, but I figure I can at least reiterate what the standard protocol is for those who might not be aware.
"Do you have any advice about how to go about marketing your manuscript to publishers? Do you always need an agent and are there certain publishers that are more receptive to receiving unsolicited manuscripts than others?"You can certainly submit directly to some publishers (various market listings can tell you which), but you'll almost certainly be better off getting an agent first, and then letting *them* sell it to a publisher. My agent took three weeks to sell my book, writing to two editors in succession, getting them to get back to him within a week and a half each. If I'd been sending the book in, even if I'd known to send it to those people, it *still* would probably have sat on their desks for six months each. And then been rejected by an assistant's assistant.
So what you should do is look at your manuscript, figure out which books currently in the marketplace are similar, and then track down their agents (usually you can find that out in their acknowledgements). Then see which of those are accepting submissions and submit directly to them. You can simultaneously submit query letters to as many of those as you like, so you should get a much faster response than if you wrote directly to the publishers.