Monday, 2 June 2008

Support Page: Traditional Publishing

After researching the publishing market, I realised two routes are available for new writers wishing to publish:

1. The Traditional Publishing Route
(Approaching traditional publishing houses and literary agents)

2. The E-Publishing Route
(Creating e-books : A form of inexpensive self-publishing and promotion)

Due to the fascinating potential of e-book publication, I'll write a separate article covering that topic. Here, I would like to relate a personal story focusing on traditional publishing methods, specifically exploring how writers can create genuine publishing opportunities.

In my case, "The Writers' & Artists' Yearbook" was instrumental to me submitting my first fiction manuscript. Although the contents of this useful book is not available online, A&C Black do have a website that promotes the book since they are its publisher. I would recommend writers seeking to publish obtain a copy each year, finances permitting.

Writer's Note: On J.K. Rowling's official website, she mentions she consulted The Writers' & Artists' Yearbook when seeking a literary agent for her first Harry Potter manuscript.

In 2007, A&C Black were running a writing competition for unpublished authors. Since I had just written a complete, proofed 40,000 word novella, it seemed a natural progression to submit my fledgling literary efforts. They gave very clear guidelines on what they wished submitted:- two chapters of the entrant's story, plus a one sheet synopsis.

Synopsis Writing.

I enjoy writing synopses because of an opportunity to focus on the most exciting elements in a new story. A synopsis is similiar to the small promotional summaries included on the backcover of books, or DVD movies.

A good synopsis will introduce leading characters, outline their situation and establish a tone. In effect, a useful showcase for your story's themes. Readers are looking for excitement, characters with whom they identify and gripping drama. This is your opportunity to show readers what's on offer.

Examples of synposes

Before sending off my two chapter taster and synposis, I copyrighted. There are different ways an author can do this; including consulting a solicitor or copyright specialist. I focus here on the low-cost method mentioned to me by a published poet (who also happened to work in a Law Firm!) This method, I should point-out, has not been tested in Law, but offers more protection to a writer than not copyrighting at all!

Painless Copyright.

1. Go to a printing firm with a CD-ROM copy of your formatted story. (There are many high-street firms around now who printout good quality, low-cost manuscripts). Ask for two copies of your manuscript to be printed. One for copyright, one for submission to the prospective publisher.

(Note: You could print out your entire manuscript on your own home printer of course. However, from what I can ascertain, going to a printing shop is a cheaper option).

2. Put a printed (hardcopy) version of your story in a suitable envelope, seal the envelope well with tape and visit the Post Office. Ask the Post Office to send the item back to you via "Recorded Delivery". When you receive the manuscript at your home address, store it in a safe place and leave it unopened.

You now have independent proof your story is written on a particular date. You can now legitimately add the © symbol to manuscripts you send out, while your "master copy" remains on your shelves as a safeguard against infringements.

The traditional copyright symbol, as seen in most published books, appears in this format:

Copyright © [Your Name Here] 2007 (Or whatever year you copyrighted)


I hope you find my personal account of a recent publishing opportunity helpful. Since I did not secure a literary agent or deal, my story is by no means foolproof. There are many books (and possibly online guides) that explore this topic ad infinitum. My personal belief (after discussing the issues with one published writer) is that creating genuine opportunities is the key to success.

Since most established book publishers do not accept unsolicited manuscripts (work sent to them without permission or referral from a literary agent) my personal advice would be save yourself time, money and possible heartache by adopting the opportunities approach.