- May 28, 2015 at 5:35 pm #19150
I just broke several world records and want to write about my adventures. I need guidance and either an agent or publisher. Any advice please?June 1, 2015 at 12:43 pm #19185
Peter M. BallKeymaster
The short answer to this is pretty easy: create a list of markets that fit your project, put together the submission package, then mail it off to the relevant publishers, agents, competitions, etc. You will probably be told “this isn’t for us” quite a bit, but that should be expected – when it happens, just find new places to send your submission package and keep mailing it out. Then go write your next book, if your long-term goals involve writing more than one. Publishing is full of stories about people who were rejected dozens or even hundreds of times before an editor said yes, and the odds of someone saying yes go up exponentially when you’ve got more work out there.
If you’re not sure what goes into your cover level, synopsis/pitch package, and writing sample, you can get a quick introduction in the info-sheets linked to at the bottom of this post in Other Resources or, if you’re a subscriber, you can access the Writing Advice section which includes advice on both fiction and non-fiction book submissions.
SOME THINGS TO UNDERSTAND BEFORE SUBMITTING
The following are some of the key points about submitting when we do AWM workshops at festivals and events, which may be useful.
Publishing is a Business: Publishers and agents love books and great writing, but they’ll only publish the work that they think has the best chance of selling to established markets. This means that not every rejection is personal, and that writers should treat their submission like a business. Be professional, learn about the industry you’re entering into, and don’t let your eagerness and passion for your project get the better of you. If you’re not sure where to start, try getting in contact with your local State Writers Centre – they will frequently run programs designed to educate writers on how publishing works.
Research The Industry: Know which genre your book fits into and show that you’ve done some research to build your understanding of the industry. Never submit to a publisher or agent blind – make sure you’ve got some idea of why your work will fit with them. An AWM subscription or a copy of the print book can help with that – our listings include the details of all the Australian publishers and agents we can find who are accepting submissions – but there are other services available such as the Writers Marketplace (USA focused), the Writers and Artists Yearbook (UK Focused), and websites like Duotrope.com
You don’t actually need these services these days – a determined writer could easily find publishers active in their area by hitting their local book store or library, spending a few hours browsing the shelves and noting the publishers working in their area, then hitting Google to find their websites and writers guidelines. Some publishers will be closed to unsolicited submissions, but many are actively looking for new work.
Develop Your Submission Skills Early: It takes time to learn how to write a good story or novel, but when it comes to submitting their work, most writers don’t bother learning the skills associated with writing pitch letters or creating a synopsis until they need to start submitting. Start practicing these skills now, before you need, rather than adding the stress to the submission process.
Build Your Network: The slush pile is the least efficient way of getting your work in front of an editor or agent – look for opportunities to network within the writing industry, whether it’s through literary events, opportunities at Writers Festivals, or conferences with pitching sessions. Get to know other writers, especially the folks who are emerging at the same time you are, as you’ll be able to trade information as you develop your network and get to know other people in the industry. In a country as small as Australia, it’s possible to get to know many publishers and agents over the course of a few years due to the size of the industry.
Look at Options Outside of Publishers/Agents: If you do have an AWM subscription, it can be worth diversifying your search to find opportunities for getting a book published that aren’t included in the Publishers/Agents. Australia has a number of writing competitions aimed at emerging writers, such as the Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award aimed at unpublished novelists under the age of thirty-five and the unpublished manuscript categories that appears in many State-Based literary awards.
Similarly, there are programs like the Hachette Development Program at Queensland Writers Centre and residencies at places like Varuna that aren’t publishing opportunities in and of themselves, but do provide you with the chance to meet publishers/agents and get feedback on your work that may lead to an invitation to pitch or publish work down the line.
Always Read the Guidelines: While there are industry standards, publishers and agents will often have their own guidelines that they like individual submissions to use. Always check the guidelines and make sure you comply with their requirements.
– Submit to a Literary Agent, Queensland Writers Centre
– Submit to a Publisher, Queensland Writers Centre
– Write a Cover Letter, Queensland Writers Centre
– Format My Manuscript, Queensland Writers Centre
- This reply was modified 3 years ago by Peter M. Ball.
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