<Advice on publishing a book.
<I am a UK author who has had many books published.
Firstly you need to decide whether you want to be represented by an
agent or to deal directly with a publisher yourself. Personally I have
never used an agent and would recommend dealing directly with a
Approaching a publisher.
The names and addresses of publishers can be found in The Writer?s
Handbook and The Artists? and Writers? Yearbook (see links below). Your
local library will probably have a copy of both books. The latest
versions are usually kept behind the counter.
Only contact publishers that are interested in publishing your genre.
You can find these publishers by browsing in a bookshop. The Writer?s
Handbook and The Artists? and Writers? Yearbook also give brief
details of publishers requirements.
Publishers like to be contacted in writing.
What to send.
1. A brief covering letter saying that you have a proposal for a book.
Head your letter:
Title of your book.
Don?t forget to include your name, address, phone number and any other
contact details like fax or email address.
2. An outline that gives details of what your book is about. This
should be brief, ideally under 2 pages. Include a profile of the
reader of your book (reader numbers, education level, income, age
etc.). State how long it will take you to write the book. Detail why
your book is different from what is currently on the market. Give
brief details of books on the market that are direct competitors to
yours (if there are none say so).
3. A synopsis.
Give a list of contents and details of what will be included in each
chapter. State how long the book will be (expressed as the number of
words). Give details of the number illustrations to be included (if
4. If you?ve had anything published like magazine or newspaper
articles include a copy of one or two articles to show that you
actually can write. If not include one chapter from the book (it
doesn?t have to be the first chapter).
5. Your curriculum vitae. Give details of any writing experience.
Detail any experience that makes you an ideal candidate for writing
Only print on one side of the paper. All pages should be loose and not
bound. Number the pages in pencil (just in case someone drops them and
muddles them up).
Enclose return postage. You can get a return postage voucher from the post office.
Publishers don?t like authors to submit to multiple publishers at the
same time. However since it take publishers on average 6-8 weeks to
reply to a submission, it can take forever to find a publisher if you
just send your proposal to one at a time.
I got my first book published by writing to ten publishers at a time.
After 10 batches of submissions I found a publisher. So it pays to be persistent.
Finding an agent.
Agents can be reluctant to take on new writers without a
recommendation from another writer. Join your local writers group. You
will often find that professional writers are members who can offer
advice and maybe an introduction to an agent.
The publication process.
Publishers usually take about 6 to 8 weeks to decide whether or not
they want to publish a book. If you haven?t heard anything after 8
weeks, it is acceptable to send a query letter.
If a publisher likes your idea, you will be contacted. They may send
your synopsis to a consultant who may suggest changes. Once they are
happy with the synopsis you will be offered a publishing contract.
There is no standard contract and they differ from publisher to
publisher. The contract basically gives the publisher the right to
publish and exploit the book, selling various rights in return for
paying you a royalty. The royalties paid will vary depending on what
the contract specifies. It is up to you to get the best deal that you
Royalties are a percentage of the retail price of the book. Nowadays
though it is becoming more common for the royalties to be a percentage
of publishers net receipts.
It is usual to be offered an advance on royalties. For a first book
the advance is likely to be as low as GBP 500 to GBP 1000. Advances
are often paid in two instalments, the first on signature of the
contract, the second on delivery and acceptance of the final
You will start to get paid royalties once the advance has been earnt.
The amount you get paid will depend on how successful the book is. The
more copies sold, the more you will get paid. If however the book
flops and the royalities are not sufficient to cover the advance
paid, the writer does not usually have to return the advance.
Your contract will state the deadline for delivery of the manuscript.
On receipt of the manuscript an editor will review it and make any
necessary suggestions to improve it. After any changes have been made,
you will be sent page proofs. Your manuscript will be arranged on
pages as it will look in the final book. You will be required to check
the proofs and to correct any mistakes.
You will usually be invited to make suggestions for the cover of the book.
When the book is published there may or may not be a book signing party.
It is usual for contracts to specify that the author must give first
refusal to the publisher to publish his/her next book.
Sources of further information.
Writers? and Artists? Yearbook. By Ian Rankin. Publisher: A & C Black; ISBN:
0713677120(24 Jul 2006)
The Writer?s Handbook. Publisher: Macmillan; ISBN: 1405049375
The Insider?s Guide to Getting Your Book Published. By Rachael Stock.
Publisher: White Ladder Press Ltd (24 Oct 2005)
<Hope this helps.>