The webpage below contains our potted advice on publising and self-publishing, but if you want to explore further, please check out:
• Our guide to publishing
• The difference between publishing and self-pub
• Publishing on the Amazon Kindle
• More about the Amazon Kindle
• How to get your work copy-edited
• How to get a ghost-writer
• ance information sheet
• Meeting publishers
We endorse the services of three self-publishing companies. We like Lulu (wonderfully cheap and cheerful), Matador (the best conventional self-pub company in the UK), and of course the Amazon Kindle (best platform for e-publishing). We do not get a fee for referring clients to these companies.
We'd also like to draw your attention to the best book ever written on Getting Published. We know it's good, because we wrote it. Finally, you might also want to review some titles in our video library:
You want to be published – but what sort of publishing are you after: commercial publishing or self-publishing? If you don’t know the difference, then please check our publishing guide. The difference between these two forms of publishing is crucial: it’s the difference between putting on a gig at your local pub, and getting a massive record label to launch your career.
The vast majority of ambitious authors (and especially authors of fiction) will want to choose commercial publishing. In other words, you:
If your work is more suitable for distribution to friends and family, or if it’s on a very specific subject (eg: A Manual of Beekeeping) and you’re very well connected in that area (eg: you run the Australian Beekeeping Association) then self-publishing may well be more suitable.
This Quick Guide assumes that your interest lies in commercial publishing. If you want to go for Self-Publishing, then our Quick Guide to Self-Publishing is what you’re after.
Getting signed by a major music label isn’t easy. Nor is getting published by a major commercial publisher. If you want the grim facts, then here they are:
That’s the bad news, so we’d better balance it with the good news:
Step 3: Getting Ready
Nearly all manuscripts that are sent to literary agents aren’t yet in a saleable state. The most common issues are:
If you are 100% sure that you are OK on all these things, then proceed to the next step. If you’re not sure, then your manuscript is probably not yet ready to sell. So get help. Your options are:
Step 4: Selecting agents
Before you start contacting agents, you need to know what you are doing. Agents:
You also need to know what agents are not. They are not:
Agents are also nearly always generalists, not specialists. If you write for children or young adults, then you should get an agent who specialises in this area. Otherwise, most agents will handle both fiction and non-fiction, commercial and literary work. If they love your stuff they’ll take you on.
You can get names, addresses and brief descriptions of agents here:
When you send work out to agents you need to pick a list of about 8-10 names. Make sure you do your basic research. So don’t send your novel to someone who only handles cook books. But don’t get too hung up on trying to choose a perfect list of names. The perfect person for you is someone who adores your writing, and there’s no infallible way to find that person. We recommend that you approach all 8-10 agents at the same time, or break your submissions into two waves of 4-5 submissions.
There’s no point in going to many more than 8-10 agents. When an agent goes out to publishers, they’ll typically contact about 10 or so editors. If you can’t find one publishing professional in 10 who loves your work, then you probably won’t be able to sell your book even if you do eventually get an agent.
Step 5: The Submission Pack
Don’t send your entire manuscript to agents – they don’t want it. At this stage, you just need to send:
Needless to say, everything you send out should be well written and well presented. If you want the Writers’ Workshop to review your covering letter completely free of charge, then just email it to us and we’ll get straight back to you with comments.
Step 6: Wait
Although agents do want to take on excellent work by new authors, it’s seldom their highest priority – after all, they have a whole host of existing clients to take care of. So be patient. As a rough guide, you might get a response in 2 weeks, but 6-8 would be perfectly typical. The length of time means nothing at all. A long wait didn’t mean they loved the book, or hated it, or anything at all. The person concerned was just doing other things.
Step 7: Hearing back
When you do hear back, you may hear one of three things:
If you are asked to send in your complete manuscript, then you need to do some more waiting. (Lucky you just had some practice, eh?) When you do hear back, you will hear one of three things:
Step 8: Next steps and further help
If an agent has taken you on, then congratulations. You’re away.
If you’ve done all this, and haven’t succeeded, then don’t despair. Writing is hard. It’s hard to do at all, but it’s terribly hard to do it on your own and without expert help. We’re here to give you that help. Our main service at The Writers’ Workshop is giving tough, honest and expert feedback on your work. The aim is to make it so strong that agents and publishers simply can’t turn it down. Of course we don’t always succeed, but we have notched up some wonderful bestsellers, and our clients do make a huge difference to their chances of success. We can do the same for you. If you’re keen to explore the idea (a full manuscript critique will set you back a few hundred pounds), then check out the website or just get in touch with us and tell us all about your project. If we can help, then we will.