We are frequently asked about how to get published as well as how to get a job in publishing. Below are a few basic tips
The Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook
The Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook is a good place to start. It contains all the useful information needed to help writers make it into print and to develop their career, and give artists advice on how to exhibit or publish work and lists of both publishers and authors agents. It is available from any good book shop, from the reference section of your local library or online.
Where to send your work
It is a good idea to do some research into which particular publishers are likely to be interested in your work. It may seem glaringly obvious, but there is no point in sending your poetry to a publisher who specialises in comic books. Consult either the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook for listings of names, addresses and main areas of interest of the major publishers. Alternatively, look at similar books in your local bookshop or library and make a note of the publishers.
Presenting your manuscript
It is highly unlikely that your work will be considered if it is not presented as a professional package. A manuscript should be presented in a manner which will be immediately attractive to the reader. It should be typewritten with double spacing on one side of A4 paper, with each page accordingly numbered. Ensure that you retain at least one good copy of your manuscript.
In Britain, you hold the copyright for your work as soon as it is written down - you do not need to apply for copyright or register your work with any organisation. The only exception to this is when you are writing as part of your employment - for instance, if you are a journalist working for a newspaper. Copyright lasts for 70 years after the end of the calendar year in which an author dies.
Sending off your work
A synopsis and sample chapter are sufficient for the publisher to judge whether or not they will be interested in your work. The synopsis should contain information about who in particular the book is aimed at, what it is about, why it is necessary that it be published, the proposed length of the book and the likely date for completion.
An alternative to sending your work directly to publishers is to approach a literary agent. These agents act as mediators and negotiators between authors and publishers. When sending a manuscript to an agent, follow the same guidelines as when sending to a publisher. Agents who are members of the Association of Authors' Agents have at least three years experience of the business and have a good idea of which publishers to approach with your work and how much you can expect to be paid for it.
You know you have encountered a 'vanity' publisher when they offer to publish your work for a (usually large) fee. Avoid them unless you are really sure that you wish to pay for the publication of your book - and, if this is the case, consider self-publishing first. Often vanity publishers will praise your writing in order to persuade you to part with your money. If your work is as good as they say, a reputable publisher will be willing to publish it without requesting you to pay for the pleasure. Books published by vanity publishers are often of poor quality and are rarely stocked by bookshops or libraries.
Self-publishing is on the increase with the advent of print-on-demand publishers. If you do self-publish it is worth remembering that it will be down to you to get the book out there. It is hard to get self-published books into bookshops, although if there is some local interest (eg. the book is a history of the local area), they may be more interested. Your chances will be improved if you follow some basic rules: always make an appointment with the buyer for the relevant section or with the manager, rather than just turning up. Bookshops will expect at least 33% discount and will expect you to cover carriage costs yourself. They will also expect sale or return, ie. if the books don’t sell, they return them to you and you refund them the money they have paid to you. You will also need to promote the book yourself. This could involve sending out review copies and contacting newspapers and local radio stations.
Further information and advice on how to get published can be found on the spread the word website.