Lots of people have been asking about this lately, especially with the suddenly-rampant myth that you must have a book deal or an offer in order to find an agent (for the record, again: this is not true at all).
So I thought I’d tackle the topic of submitting to editors without an agent. And I’ll start by saying something you might not expect to hear from an agent: submitting to editors without an agent isn’t always a bad thing!
But first, and most importantly: there some serious perils involved that you should be aware of if you’re considering submitting to editors directly. The biggest: If you query a lot of editors simultaneously with your agent search you may be inadvertently killing the submission process if you eventually find an agent. This is because most agents I know won’t resubmit to a publisher who has already considered a project, even if it was sent to the publisher unagented, and even if it subsequently undergoes a revision (unless the editor specifically asks).
If you are hoping to find an agent: submitting to editors widely is not the way to go. An agent will be less likely to take on your project if you have already sent your manuscript to the major publishers.