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  • Louise Mullins

What Not To Do When Approaching Publishers


So you've written a book and you want to get it published. You may even have found a publisher. But how do you approach them?


As a publisher who've been in business for four years (with a staff who've been in the industry for over a decade), we've seen it all, and we want you to know what not to do when approaching a publisher.


1. Don't stick to the submission guideline.

Submit only five chapters of your unedited manuscript in 12 pt. Calibre font with double line and double word spacing via Google Docs or PDF and you're certain to receive an instant rejection. The guideline is there for a reason. Editors use Word to edit your novel. Editing software doesn't work on either, and Google Docs interferes with formatting.



2. Don't learn to write

A manuscript full of typos, punctuation errors, mixed tenses, passive text, a lack of grammar, telling the reader what happened when, how and where, over-descriptive detail, and clunky dialogue that gives the reader all the information required without having to read the novel reads amateurishly. You need a basic understanding of sentence structure, Point Of View and syntax in order to write a story. If you really don't want to get published, don't bother learning how.


3. Sign a contract

If you really don't want to get your novel published, sign a contract with a publisher then tell them you want out either midway through publishing your novel or immediately after publication to pursue self-publishing or because what you really wanted (you've only just realized) is an agent. Or better yet because you've just submitted the publishers edited copy to another publisher who've expressed an interest in publishing your novel. But make sure we've professionally edited, proofread and designed the cover for your novel, uploaded the book for pre-order, and sent Advance Review Copies to our press contacts first. This will ensure a publisher never accept another submission from you again.


4. Decide you don't like the cover after agreeing for it to be used

You've signed your contract, the editor has created a blurb, and you've been sent the final proof from two mock-ups created by our highly qualified, two-decade long experienced graphic designer, and you LOVE it! But be sure to wait until it's been uploaded for pre-order and the marketing material used to promote your novel has already been printed, then tell us you don't like the cover and won't do anything to promote it.


4. Don't listen to the editor

You've just received your developmental/content/structural/copy/line edits back and have been given instructions on what to do (reply to the editors comments, make changes, check over what's been altered). Why not instead rewrite large chunks of narrative unnecessarily that have not been agreed upon? And make sure you don't leave track changes on so we can't see where these extra words are. Better still, make sure the passages you've added are full of typos so we have to send the manuscript back for another round of editing and hold up the publication of your novel. While you're there, also fix all the changes we've made to your novel so that those words you think should be capitalized are - once again, and those commas we removed are replaced.


5. Send your manuscript to friends and family before it's been proofread

Once we've edited your novel, garner your own reviews by sending a copy to your mum and a couple of mates. Who'll no doubt send copies to their mates and cousin. Who in turn have the opportunity to share your work of art with other people they know, one or two of whom might pirate books. Their favorite being those that haven't yet been watermarked and don't yet contain a copyright page. A legal requirement if we're to be able to take legal action against someone for copyright theft (book piracy).


Be sure to repeat the above with your second novel and you're likely to receive the rights back to it from the publisher. You're also unlikely to be able to get your novels republished, because, like most industries, publishers talk. We share trends, advice and generally natter. And when a familiar name crops up you can be sure we'll share our experiences with that publisher as a word of warning.


So, if you want to begin approaching publishers with your novel(s) follow the above steps and you're almost certain never to get the break you want.

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