Writing Tips: How To Get Published

Our Quick Guide to Commercial Publishing & Self-Publishing



Commercial publishing


Also known as

Just plain old 'publishing'

Vanity / author-funded / subsidy / POD publishing

Brief description

• A publisher pays you for your work

• The publisher pays for editing, copyediting, printing, cover design, sales & marketing, PR and everything else you can think of. You pay nothing.

• Your work will get into bookstores

• Your publisher will invest real cash in sales & marketing

• You will get PR support

• You may get book reviews

• You pay to have your work printed

• You can get an ISBN and make your work available online

• But you should not expect significant distribution via bookstores

• You won't get meaningful help on PR, book reviews, etc

• If you want other services (copyediting / editorial / etc) then you'll need to pay for them.

Average sales?

Impossible to say - but few publishers would target less than 1000 copies. Sales of 10,000 to 100,000 are achievable

Impossible to say - but most self-pub books sell fewer than 50 copies, and most of those to author's friends / family

Need an agent?



How much does an agent cost?

Nothing up front - expect to pay a 15% commission on any money the agent makes on your behalf.




Deals vary. Super cheap deals can be as little as £50. The most expensive deals can be as much as £6,000. Expensive ain't always better!


Depends on your advance. But 99.9% of pro authors go this route.

Depends on sales. But few self-pub authors break even.


Yes. Commercial publishing is not rife with rip-off merchants.

Hmm. There are some excellent self-pub companies. And ones who frankly ought to be closed down. And then bombed.

Easy to get into?

No! Agents take about 1 in 1000 manuscripts that come their way. Do note though that agents are looking for new, unpublished & non-celebrity talent. If your MS is strong enough, agents will take it.

Yes. You are basically paying to have your book printed, so self-pub is open to anyone in possession of a wallet.

I'm an optimist. What's the best possible outcome?

Ask J.K. Rowling.

Some self-pub authors do make money, and they have the satisfaction of controlling every element of the design, production & sales process themselves. If a self-pub book does really well (eg; sells more than 2,000 copies), then commercial publishers might get interested - but you might not want to share!

I'm a realist. What's going to go wrong?

Hmm. Plenty of pro authors get fed up with their publishers. You won't get real say over cover design. Sometimes sales & marketing activity is feeble. Sometimes PR comes to naught ... What can we say? Life is tough. If you want to make money, become a hedge fund manager / supermodel / Wayne Rooney.

If you choose a good self-pub outfit and you have realistic expectations of what you are likely to achieve, then not much should go wrong.

Most suitable for?

Anyone who

• wants to make real money

• wants national distribution


• has talent, &

• is willing to work hard

Anyone who

• wants to print a few dozen copies for family and friends; or

• just wants to see their work in print; or

• has a sure-fire distribution route of their own. (eg: you are writing a book on Repairing Snowmobiles and you are the Lord High Chairperson of the UK Snowmobile Association).

Can the WW offer any more help?

Yes! We've got masses of help available. Your options are:

Can you help me decide what to do?

Yes! If you just want a quick question answered, then please contact us with your query.

For a fuller discussion, email your work over to us together with any specific questions you may have. We'll review your work, suggest the most appropriate next steps (by means of a short written report) and discuss the whole thing with you over the phone. The fee for this is £85. If you go on to have a full-length critique with us, then you get £40 off the standard price of that review.

We do not have any financial affiliation with any self-pub or other company. We are totally impartial, and are very experienced in this industry. Also, because we're writers, we're on your side!

And what might your other services consist of, pray tell?

We offer the best one-to-one feedback service in the country. All our editors are pro authors themselves. Between us we've won or been shortlisted for shedloads of prizes, and we really know what it takes to get published. If your stuff is good enough to market, then we can help with that part too.

For more info on what we do, just browse our services here.

We can offer the best editorial advice available anywhere (see blurb & links in left hand box).

We can also offer low cost copy-editing of proper professional standard.

We can also offer a full rewrite of your work conducted by a published, professional author. This is time consuming, skilled work - so it's not cheap and not right for most authors. Please contact us for more info.

Finally, if you have any questions at all, please just get in touch. We look forward to hearing from you.