Posts Tagged ‘Publishers’

Most literary agents are normally happy to read new work from potential clients. Make sure you first browse a list of your chosen agent’s existing authors lists to get a good idea of the kind of work they handle or are comfortable with. The most successful unsolicited approaches to agents are those which have been carefully targeted to a particular agency, rather than a blanket approach to lots of agencies, which is NOT RECCOMMENDED! Normally, the agent will tell you under the ‘submissions’ section of their website, what they represent and specifically what they do not. Make sure you read this section of your prospective agent’s website… in detail, BEFORE making your submission.

Submissions by email: Most agents living in the real world, and there are of course some that don’t,….. prefer to receive submissions by email. You will find individual preferences and email addresses etc listed on a ‘contact’ web page or more often on an individual agent’s web page. You would normally be required to send your submission directly to the agent you feel will be most compatible with your work. Agents will generally read all submissions made to them in order of receipt. It is to their advantage to do so and no one wants to miss the next J.K Rowling…do they? However, most agents will only respond to submissions if they wish to read more. You can safely assume that if you have not heard back from your submitted agent within eight weeks then you can more or less take it for granted that the agent submitted to does not feel that the work is right for their particular agency. Submissions by post: If you can afford it, you can often send your manuscript in hard copy to your agent. Check the website to see if this will be accepted. Again, they will normally only respond if they wish to see more. Do not expect to see your hard copy manuscript back. If they don’t like it, then it’s straight in the bin….or as they refer to the process of binning…..recycled. Some will send your manuscript back to you with an SAE envelope….but they are rare.!

What’s Required… ?

For fiction: For most submissions, you should send in the first 50 pages or first three chapters of your manuscript, (normally, no more) and a synopsis in a single document, (maximum two or three pages) as an attachment to the email, with a covering letter as detailed below. If it’s a picture book, then you would normally need to send the full story. If you are an illustrator, e-mail a selection of JPEGs with a covering letter.

For non-fiction: Again, for most submissions, email a proposal and short example of the proposed work…..a sample chapter, for instance. Include a short note on any competing or comparable literature stating, where possible the author, title, publisher and publication date. It would be helpful to have an overview of possible marketing outlets for your work and a biographical note outlining your background, training and experience. This is an important point of emphasis for a specialist subject whereby the agent needs some initial assurance that you, as the author, have a suitable knowledge of your subject.

The Covering Letter: Write a SHORT covering letter, normally embedded within the body of the email, giving an account of the background of the book and your writing career to date. If you have references from previous writing efforts, then make this clear. If you have had previous correspondence with any other agents, make sure you mention this. Most agents would also appreciate knowing if your project has been sent to or is being considered by other agents or publishers. That seems fair. The more cynical among you may say that if you do, your book goes to the bottom of the review list. Honesty is nearly always the best policy..! Do not use the ‘cast your net wide’ approach as this will no doubt backfire upon you.

The E-mail itself….…

There are many differing conventions used by agents and publishers for submitting work, but nearly all of them require a way of finding your work when it has been downloaded and posted to their computerized storage systems. Most also have some very heavy SPAM filters in operation and so require the ‘Subject’ section of the email to represent certain common information such as the following.

Date: Date of submission as Name: Surname then First name. Title: Book Title.doc

For example: 01.06.12_Whittikar_James_MyBestSellingNovel.doc

Another well used example is: [SUBMISSION DATE]/[TITLE OF WORK]/[NAME OF AUTHOR]

The Manuscript…

For fiction: A normal requirement will be the three opening chapters (double line spaced) and a very brief synopsis of the whole plot, with a word-count of the complete book, combined together in one WORD DOCUMENT. Make sure you provide a title page and number the pages in the submission in case the agent or publisher decide to print it for their reviewers. Use a common font with the most respected being Times New Roman and good sized margins such as 4.5cm all round to give the reviewer the ability to write in the margins when the manuscript is printed out.

For non-fiction: Again, a normal requirement will be to provide a submission all together in one WORD DOCUMENT to include a proposal which tells the agent the date you could actually complete the book, the full word-count, a detailed outline of the story (synopsis) and three chapters (double line spaced) if you’ve written them. Make sure you also do a title page and number the pages in case they decide to print it. You should also indicate how much of the book is available in case the reviewers want to read on some more. The font and margins may vary depending upon the style and type of manuscript you are submitting.

Please make sure that any manuscript or attachment is a word document or PDF and not a link to any ‘cloud’ download format. Also, do not send hard media such as a CD or other storage devices. You will be unpopular.

So, do we now understand the submission procedure for getting your masterpiece in front of an agent or publisher who is about to launch your career as a world recognized Author? Maybe the subject is a little clearer but the best advice will always be to research your chosen agent or publisher and follow their own specific submission rules…to the letter.! Happy scribbling.!

The E-Book Writer


As a first time writer of books, what options do you think are available to you when it comes to having your work published? If you are lucky enough to be a published author and not simply a ‘writer’ any more, what options did you have when looking to get your work published? Well there are a million words out there that will purport to guide you through to victory, most of them written by ‘self publishing houses’ that have perhaps a little more interest in your bank balance than your literary success. In general, getting your book published requires you to walk a torturous route and the first parting of the way needs you to make a decision. The left hand route is via a Literary Agent and the right hand route is via a Publisher. So, what’s the difference?

The Literary Agent – This is a service provider who makes a living by selling your book rights and then taking commission from your earnings. The process is straight forward and well documented. A hard working agent will take the stress out of earning money from your writing efforts, leaving you to become a highly productive asset in his ever growing ‘list’ of authors. Over the years, this literary animal has become so powerful, that nearly all quality Publishers steer clear of accepting any manuscript submissions unless made by an Agent. This simply goes to prove that there is an unashamed wealth of manuscripts floating around out there with a real and possibly unacceptable ‘dirth’ of  interested Publishers desks for them to land upon. On the other hand, it may simply confirm to you that the ‘old boy network’ in the literary world is alive and kicking. If you already have an ‘in’ with an agent and he accepts your work, then you are several hundred steps ahead of the competition. If you don’t, then you will need to find one, find out what the submission criteria may be, send your work off…..and then.. wait!  A good agent will look after your interests well, a bad agent will not. How can you tell the good from the bad? Well, instinct is useful; the authors in their list that produce similar work to yours; the number of successful book launches in a given year and your ability to ‘get on’ with your allocated editor. How can you tell what commissions you should pay to an agent? Well in 2011 it was averaging 15%, plus any relevant value added tax requirement in the country of payment, but that figure can of course vary significantly depending upon what services your agent is prepared to provide to you.

The Publisher – This is someone who takes risks, is used to taking risks and is therefore hard to convince that they should invest several hundred thousand dollars in the launch and promotion of your untried and untested masterpiece. The publisher is someone who will need to spend time editing your book and getting it ready for publication. He will also have to invest in the printing of the first editions of your book and provide the marketing backup to make his investment a success…..and in turn, pay you some money for all of your hard mental and physical efforts over a period of months or even years. The publisher will often only accept submissions from an agent because they both know what kind of work the publisher is interested in and what will make them both…. Money! So, what kind of money is involved and how much would you expect to get for a publishing deal? …….Read on!

If a publisher decides they are interested in your work, they will want to sign a standard book contract with you. This would probably call for you to receive 10% royalties from the sales of your book. Don’t forget that 15% of your 10% goes to your agent, if you have one, for negotiating the deal. The price of your book is normally set at about six times the cost of production. This means that if the first edition of your book is in hardback, the cost will possibly come to about $30.00, for the purposes of this example and that means that for every book you sell, your share is $3.00 less 15% for your agent or roughly $2.55 net to you, less any relevant taxes. An economic print run could be as high as 15,000 copies and if your agent has done a good job for you, you may be able to receive a 50% advance. We will use the number of 15,000 copies as an example for calculating income, but most first hardback print runs would substantially lower. The publisher’s gross income from these sales would be around $450,000 and your share will be 10%, or $45,000 less your agent’s commission of $13,500 leaving you with a very useful $31,500. If you are one of the lucky few who have received an advance, you will obviously not start to receive commission from your publisher until 50% of the book stock has been sold. If your book does not sell it’s first 50% print run, you may be asked to return some of the advance made to you by the publisher….so BEWARE!…do not spend all of your advance as soon as it hits your bank account!
      If your books do not sell and end up on the bargain tables you can find at most major book stores and you can buy your book for a substantially reduced price of say $6.00 or $7.00, then you will actually not make one penny. If your publisher negotiates with one of the large wholesale clubs to sell your book for half price, then you will bear the cost. Of course, you will be likely to sell more copies in those clubs, so it can be advantageous and a really good agent will work on book club deals on your behalf. Publishers generally invest very little in marketing for new authors with no following and naturally save their big advertising budgets for proven and popular authors. You may not want to hear this, but you will not get rich on your first novel. The 90% of value left in your book sale goes to the printer, and the publisher as they are the ones speculating on you and that is simply how the system works. Publishers have to pay editorial staff, lawyers, and many other ‘bodies’ who will be there actually “working” for your book and without question, they do actually earn their money.

The Middle Road – Of course, you do not have to take the left or right hand route as the middle one will eventually take you to the E-Book option and you will learn a lot more about this process within the pages of this blog. One word of warning! Beware of going the self publishing route, commonly known as ‘vanity’ publishing. This will cost you money and you will often see no financial return for your investment in such a process.

The E-Book Writer