There is no right or wrong way to publish. It really comes down to what you would prefer. If you would like to approach publishers, here are some tips:

Read and understand the publisher’s submission guidelines:

It is also important to research whether the publisher accepts unsolicited manuscripts and in what form. So check to see if they are ‘open’ for accepting your genre.

Usually, a publisher will want to see an introductory letter, a CV, a synopsis and a few chapters of your manuscript (or sometimes the complete manuscript). They might also request a ‘Market Position Statement’. This is where you need to write specifically about why your chosen genre/story/theme is a worthwhile addition to the bookshelves. Most publishers are businesses with a profit motive (sometimes balanced against literary goals); you will have to convince them that your work is not only fantastic, but that there is a market for it too.

When submitting a manuscript it should be:

  • Typed into a Word Document and saved as a PDF
  • At least 1.5 lined spaced
  • In 12-point type
  • With page numbers
  • With a header (title) and a footer (your name)
  • Thoroughly proofread (at the very least, get an editor to read and fix obvious errors, and ensure that it is styled appropriately)
  • Submitted in the correct format (email/hard copy etc.)

It is important to realise that many smaller publishers will not be able to afford to send you a reply, so if you send a hard copy and want your manuscript returned, you should submit a stamped self-addressed envelope with your work. Always include return postage adequate to the size of your manuscript.

Get your submission in order:

Cover Letter

Your cover letter should be professional, concise, free of spelling and grammatical errors, and it should make it clear why the book is important and saleable. You will need to develop a one- or two-line pitch for your work and this should go near the beginning of your letter. Most importantly, your letter should be no more than a single A4 typed page.


Make sure you check what length synopsis the publisher or agent is after (many will include this information in their submission guidelines). Your synopsis must be focused, clear and enticing. It must include all key plot points (including the ending) – do not hold back on details in the hope that this will entice the publisher or agent to read on. Like the cover letter, your synopsis should be free of spelling and grammatical errors, and an example of your very best writing.

Sample Material

Publishers will always want to see a sample of your manuscript, although some publishers may want to see the entire piece – check their guidelines to be sure. If you are asked to submit any three chapters, it’s always a good idea to ensure one of those is the first chapter.

Market Position Statement

Publishers want to know who your intended target audience is and what genre your book would fall into. They also want to know what sets your book apart from the rest in that genre, what makes it original, but also enticing enough to engage the interests of your proposed readership.

And once you have sent if off – it’s time to open a bottle of bubbles and pat yourself on the back. And perhaps start thinking about your next novel.

If you wish to self-publish, here are some tips:

Self-publishing using Author Services

Self-publishing is becoming easier and more confusing for authors. There is so much on offer! However, the great thing about self-publishing is that you are in control of all aspects of the production of your work into a printed book, an ebook, or both.

There are many stages in the self-publishing journey and these include editing, design, production, promotion, selling and distribution.

There’s a plethora of author services that you can use to help self-publish your manuscript – from freelance editors, such as us here at Wordplay Editing Services, designers, typesetters and even book marketers. And as with submitting to a publisher, the key to working with a business that provides author services is to make sure you do your research. Look at their experience, previous work, and and see what you think!

If you are happy to hand over some of the control, then working with an ‘author provider service’ (a one-stop-shop) is a fantastic choice. These companies will coordinate all of the above-mentioned stages for you. A one-stop-shop will also provide print-ready files to send to your printer or have books printed for you, as well as prepare your files for digital publication.

And they can upload your files to your chosen distributors. However, this avenue will cost you more, as the company is essentially ‘project managing’ the publication of your book. But unlike ‘Vanity Publishing’, discussed below, you retain all rights, and all the money made by selling your book goes to you, and only you!

No matter which way you choose to go, either employing individuals or a one-stop-shop, do your research and get a variety of quotes, remembering to check they have worked on books before.

Vanity Publishing

A ‘Vanity Publisher’ can coordinate the publishing of your manuscript as per an ‘author service’; however, the publishing house may assert rights to published work and have continued fees/royalties on on-going book sales. There are some reputable companies offering this service very successfully, and it is working for the benefit of both the publisher and the author.

However, Vanity Publishing will often be expensive and sometimes it doesn’t deliver on promises made. Be extra vigilant with your research into a chosen Vanity Publisher. The fact that they may offer you only a 50% share of net profits, charge inflated prices to publish and market your book, and require you to sign a ‘non-disclosure agreement’ (which means you can’t get advice about the contract) means they are firstly a Vanity Publisher and should to be fully vetted before proceeding down this path.

Hope these tips help you on your publishing journey!


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