So you’ve spent a year or more working on your manuscript and you want to get it published.·What do you do now, who do you approach?
Publishing is a business and your submission is effectively a job application, and as such, should be neatly presented and show your work off to its best possible advantage. A publisher or agent needs to feel that they can build a business relationship with you, so ensure that your submission package represents you properly.
There is a full listing of Irish Literary Agents and Irish Publishers on this website – UK and US agents and publishers can be found listed in The Writers Handbook and The Writer’s and Artist’s Year Book. If you are approaching agents, do check them out thoroughly – Google them and see who they represent. Not every agent with a website is really an agent with good industry connections.
Also check out this guide to spurious publishers and other scams.
Decide what genre your book fits into and ONLY approach agents or publishers who handle this genre. If this is difficult, find books that you feel are like your book and see how they are categorised by the book shop/cover design etc. to guide you. It is very difficult to sell books that cross genre, so bear that in mind.
When you find books that are similar to your own in a bookshop or library, check out who the publishers are and who the author is represented by – this information is usually in the acknowledgements. Make a note and research them on the Internet. Best selling author Sinead Moriarty did exactly this as she came to the end of writing her first women’s fiction book – she found a book that she liked, that she felt was similar to her own and saw that it was published by Penguin. She approached them, and the rest is history!
Once you know who to approach, you must ensure that your submission package is tip top. There is an industry standard for submissions: ·
The manuscript should be double spaced and presented in a legible font (12pt Times New Roman, Arial or similar)
All pages MUST be numbered
- Ensure your name, the book’s title and your contact details (email or phone with international prefix) are included in the header or the footer of the page
- ·READ THE GUIDELINES CAREFULLY, publishers and agents generally want to see the first three chapters and a synopsis of your book, but some may ask for the first 50 pages, or only want a query letter in the first instance. Don’t get off on the wrong foot by ignoring the guidelines or you will be giving them a reason to reject you before they have even read a word!
See our article How to Write a Submission Letter for detailed information on what you should add in and what you should leave out!
What is a synopsis? A synopsis is a summary of your book, written in the present tense and revealing all the twists and turns of the plot. It details the characters and their relationships and shows an agent or publisher exactly what happens in your story. It is NOT a blurb – the text on the back of a book designed to tempt the reader – and should reveal all. In the How To section of writing.ie we have a great guide to writing a synopsis by author Sally Clements.