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Getting Published

The burning question on every would-be author’s lips is: ‘How do I get published?’

Simply by visiting this website and buying the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook, you’re making the all-important first step.

Many successful authors started with the Yearbook. J.K. Rowling tells unpublished writers that the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook is 'what you need'. Maeve Binchy describes it as a ‘magic carpet’. Terry Pratchett says it’s ‘much, much better than luck’.

One thing’s clear – the Yearbook gives you the best possible start!

You’ll need no telling that there’s more competition to get published than ever before. Hundreds of manuscripts land on the desks of agents and publishers every day.

So, how can you give yourself the best chance of success? These eight tips will give you a head start:

1. Have the answers to the key questions.
Before you do anything else, ask yourself some tough questions – and make sure you can answer them thoroughly. For example:

  • Does your idea warrant a book?
  • What is the book about?
  • Why should it be published?
  • Who will read it?
  • What is your unique selling point?
  • Have you researched your marketplace?
  • How strongly do you believe in your work?

2. Agent or publisher?
Decide whether you want to approach a literary agent or to submit your book direct to a publisher. Be aware that many publishers will only consider material submitted via an agent, particularly if it’s fiction.

3. Choose the right publisher or agent.
Search our listings and examine websites to identify the publishers and agents who would most be interested in seeing your material. There’s no point sending poetry to an agent who deals mainly with children’s fiction.

Also, be wary of promises from so-called publishers who offer to take on your book for a fee. Cressida Downing, Editorial Consultant at The Book Analyst, has good advice on how to avoid ‘vanity publishers’ who may not deliver what they appear to promise.

4. Prepare your material well.
Presentation is crucial. See Approaching a publisher on how to present your manuscript to in the correct way. Badly presented work could ruin your chances.

5. Approach the publisher or agent in the way they stipulate.
Use our listings and scour publishers’ and agents’ websites for submission guidelines. Call to find out who is the appropriate person to receive your work, and find out whether they want to see a synopsis, sample chapters or the whole manuscript. Never send your only copy of the manuscript and always include an SAE with sufficient return postage.

6. Write a convincing letter.
When submitting your manuscript let the agent or publisher know that you are familiar with and admire what they already handle or publish. Then make a case for where your submission will fit in by proving the market potential of your book.

Be sure to make your letter interesting and well written – as agent Phillipa Milnes-Smith says: “If a would-be writer cannot demonstrate a flair for writing in their introductory letter it’s hard to anticipate they will be doing any better in their manuscript.”

7. Get out and network.
Writing can be a lonely business, so go to conferences and literary festivals and/or join a book group, or even consider a longer course. You’ll pick up some amazing tips along the way.

8. Have patience and perseverance.
Be prepared to wait for a decision on your work: don’t pester too soon. Publishing is big business and there are many people and processes involved before a manuscript is acquired for publication.

The harsh reality of submitting a manuscript is that you have to be prepared for rejection. But all successful authors have received such rejections from a publisher at one point in their career – so you’ll be in good company if it happens to you. Just don’t give up!

If you found this article useful, you might like to try:

The Publishing Process

When Should You Send Your Manuscript?

How To Get Published - A Conference Of Two Authors