Tips on submitting your books to publishers


I think its less my issue with agents, so much as certain practices being agent encourages, that at time can waste an author’s time, if they’re trying to get another book written.

There was this tech guy that wrote the book I Caught A Spy In My Web. Initially the agent declined hi work, because apparently to that agent, the guy was a bad writer. Which is fair, not every book appeal to every person.

But then, once that book suddenly started getting sales, suddenly the agent attitude changed. Suddenly because it was a way to make money, they hopped onto it like it wa hot cake. I don’t know what this agent was thinking.

But it seems like every other agent since then has been trying to live that down. I get it, publishing is a business. I don’t begrudge that. Capitalism is what’s at issue here, and how it encourage some people to be really greedy.

But I get it, not all are like that. I’ve met some nice one, but that doesn’t invalidate my issue with that one agent.

Or any other person that suddenly change their mind, once you start making money. I don’t want some of my work, that time at time many many years to write, subject to such … fickleness i the easiest way to describe that.

That’ not being pretentiousness, vending machine. That’s being realistic about what’ truly involved in writing nich products like memoirs and other creative non-fiction.

My work i worth more than some person that trash my work, but then decide they want to sell t later.


And it not jut a trade publishing thing either, without mentioning specific group of self published writer, they have thi exact ame “churn thing out a fast a possible, or you’re a pretentious pig” attitude I fucking disdain.

I’m not pretenciou imply becaue I haven’t been seduced by money m’kay? Some genre take longer to write.


I am going to preface this with a couple of things: I have completed 8 novels over the course of the last 14 years, and the 7th one I completed is the first one that’s published. I don’t have an agent, but I have a publishing contract.

Publishing is not a sprint, it’s a marathon up a never-ending mountain.

When you’re ready to query, you should have a finished, polished manuscript that’s gone through numerous rounds of editing, and been seen by at least a few different readers - beta or alpha, totally up to you - but it should be the best version that you can make it. And if you cannot handle rejection, then this is not a thing for you. Flat out.

Publishing is hella subjective. That’s just how it is. Your book might not be the right fit for someone at that particular time, and that is going to be the only response you might get. And that’s the response you’ll have to live with.

If you find the right agent, they’ll be interested in ALL of your work, not just what you’ve queried. But that’s a discussion that they would have should they decide to take you on as a client.


I’ve only been on Wattpad for like…3 days at most. Most of the community forums I find have your responses in them and they’re always solid and honest info. Thanks for providing such good feedback to folks out there (and, hopefully, me one day)!


Awe that’s sweet of you to say. Thank you. I know I certainly don’t know everything when it comes to writing, but I can at least try to pass on what I do know as best I can.


If you can afford it, it is well worth going to Cons where you can talk to editors and sometimes bypass the requirement for an agent. World Science Fiction Con is in Dublin next Aug and there will be editors (and agents) from a lot of the major publishers there.


Just to add to this, Penguin Random House (one of the five major UK Publishers) is now accepting submissions without need of an agent :slightly_smiling_face:


Thank you so much for sharing this. I appreciate it. I told friends on social media about it


My biggest advice (I’m trad published with a smaller house) is to do your homework. Make sure you research the publishing house and everything the offer. What percentage of royalties do they take? Do they help with advertising and marketing? What do they require you to do? (I’m required to keep up a social media presence and website.) How far out do they do pre-orders? ARC’s? Professional editing and covers?

While trad publishing isn’t for everyone, it’s not terrible. I have a great relationship with my editor. We’re actually Facebook friends and talk all the time. While I haven’t had a book come out in a number of years (life tends to get the way once you get older unfortunately) she still encourages me to write. Even if I don’t go back to them, she encourages me. So that was something I found to be VERY awesome about my publishing house.


While you have made the decision that traditional publishing isn’t the right path for you, that doesn’t negate the fact that it IS a viable path with both positives and negatives. Both routes have their pros and cons.

True. Self-publishing is ALSO a viable option, but not everyone is (a) capable of self-publishing or (b) well-suited to self-publishing.

You don’t need “connections” to get traditionally published or “the inside track”. I had none, and that’s the case with the vast majority of authors.

As for “talent and skill” - well those are needed in BOTH routes. So if you don’t have those two things, you probably shouldn’t be seeking publication of any kind :wink:

It depends. If your manuscript is good, many agents will send some positive feedback and even offer some suggestions (and may even be willing to look at a revised manuscript).

But if your work is far from where it needs to be, they will be silent or use the obligatory “Not right for me.” line. And sometimes they use it just out of efficiency. So, yeah, in most cases you won’t be able to read the tea leaves or find out more.

So unless you want to spend months or even years getting rejected, it’s best if you set yourself a goal of rejections and then move on the road of indie publishing.

If you are sending a fiction manuscript to someone who doesn’t represent fiction - that’s poor research on your part. If you just “blast” an impersonal form letter, you are significantly hamstringing your results.

Well, I’m not sure how you differentiate between self and indie…but I’ll not dwell on that aspect.

Your conclusion was a sound one, and your decision to move on to self-publishing is a reasonable path to take. The problem is (and this isn’t just you I’m talking about now, I’m speaking in generalities), that you don’t know if they were right in their assessment that it isn’t “good enough” for publication. That will ultimately be decided by readers who are the true gatekeepers in both self and traditional.

Nope, it’s HARDER…by far. To be sucessful in self-publishing you hae to be at the top of your game from a writing perspective AND be able to execute all the other tasks the publihser does with a high degree of professionalism. That more than doubles the level of effort required.

The “don’t be eager to jump” comment applies equally to self and traditonal. In both cases you need to know what you are getting yourself into :wink:

I don’t know that I’ve seen ANYONE here exposing that opinion. In general, the most educated people in this forum will tell you that either path is incredibly difficult and it’s only the top 1% - 2% who will make it.

The luck over talent is a hotly debated topic. Generally speaking, those who aren’t successful claim luck, and those that are claim talent ;-).

Personally, I think you make your own luck by getting up after each failure. If you keep at it, if you are constantly improving, if you are growing as an author and continue to produce more works, the chances of you “catching lightning in a bottle” goes up significantly.

The digital age has thrown open the doors to opportunities. There are now thousands of self-published authors that earn five and six-figures. Most aren’t known to the public at large (in other words not “household names”), but they sell thousands of copies. Now, does that mean everyone can do that. Absolutely not. These success stories are at the top of their game and firing on all eight cylinders.

Yeah, there is much competition for eyeballs these days, but many people are using those phones to read books - are listening to audio recordings. So there are also opportunities.

The market’s low point was in 2009. Things are better now, although not great. The plus side of things is ebooks and audio are picking up the losses in print sales. Indies are actually doing a bit better than traditional because they generally have few print sales and are highly concentrated on digital media/

Seriously? A lot of people read books on their phones. How do you not know about this?

This is true regardless of what route you take to publishing.

Again, true regardless of the publishing path.


Actually you have it the wrong way around. Literary fiction is a genre that is best done through traditional. Sci-fi is a “popular fiction” so it does very well in self-publishing (but, of course, it can also be traditionally published with great success as well).


While having a platform is better than not having one, it generally isn’t the deciding factor when a book is being evaluated. The agents/editors need to LOVE the book first and foremost, that’s what gets them hooked. Then they have to figure if there is a market for it (that’s where the sales and marketing team weigh in, and develop a P&L based on other titles like the work under consideration. Now IF the author also has a large platform it might change the size of the advance, but it generally won’t be the thing that gets the book picked up.


All good points.


What about those authors who became successful and then submitted or published something else under a pen name (while trying to keep their real identity secret)? Offhand, I can’t think of one where the pen name was as successful as the real name, though they often became more successful when their real identity was revealed.


Oftentimes a pen name comes into being because the publisher makes it a requirement. Usually they are trying to hide poor performing sales from creating a death spiral of low pre-orders.

And, yeah, they are nearly impossible to keep secret. They leak.

Generally speaking it’s hard to tell what will “strike lighting” and what won’t. And I don’t see the existence (or lack there of) having a big part to play in ultimate success.


Just to add…

Platform is critical for NONfiction. It’s unlikely you’ll get picked up for nonfiction without an established platform.

With fiction, platform isn’t much of an issue – because what would the platform for most people be? Friends and family? Large numbers of followers on social media have little relation to book sales. Platform in an area not related to the subject of the book likely wouldn’t result in many book sales either.

To be fair, at one conference I attended, an agent did say that she looked for platform for fiction and considered it critical. The other agents looked at her like she had grown a couple of extra heads, LOL.


Platform or credentials. If you had no following but you were a recognized leader in your field, then your CV will be what helps to decide if a project is green lighted.




I guess my publisher was nice. They used their usual cover designer, but included me in the loop from the mock-up phase. The finished product was basically the result of a conversation between me and the designer.

The irony is that I didn’t expect to be in the loop nor see anything before a finished product. So when I saw the mock up, I first thought, ‘Oh no, this is a horrible cover! I could have made this on MS Paint.’ Eventually I realized that, oh yeah, she did do this on MS Paint because dummy art.


Even a mock up should be more professional than that. What did the final cover end up looking like?