Paperback

Published: Eye Books (January 2020)

ISBN: 9781785631443

Tips from a Publisher

Scott Pack

£12.99

An essential handbook for writers

‘Contains everything you need to know to get published’ – Adam Kay

From a handy introduction to how the publishing world works and how authors fit into it, to practical tips on writing your book and strategies for editing and re-writing, Tips from a Publisher is an indispensable guide for authors. Helping you create the perfect submission, it is crammed full of common-sense advice – and some trade secrets – that no aspiring writer should be without.

Scott Pack was head of buying for the Waterstones chain before spending several years as a publisher at HarperCollins, acquiring and editing numerous bestsellers and award-winning books. He is now a freelance editor and university lecturer, and hosts many writing workshops and classes.

Extracts

Perhaps the best way to start our guided tour of the world of publishing is by examining the life-cycle of a book. What is the process that takes the words you have typed on your computer and turns them into a printed book, a book that will sit along other real, actual books on the shelves of a bookshop? What are the individual stages, how do they work, and how does the author fit in to the whole thing?

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Extracts

Perhaps the best way to start our guided tour of the world of publishing is by examining the life-cycle of a book. What is the process that takes the words you have typed on your computer and turns them into a printed book, a book that will sit along other real, actual books on the shelves of a bookshop? What are the individual stages, how do they work, and how does the author fit in to the whole thing?

Every book begins its life as an idea inside a writer’s head but at some point, often after months or years of prevarication, or of life getting in the way, it makes its way onto the page. And no matter how you write your first draft – quill and ink, biro on paper, thumbs on a smartphone or tapping fingers on a computer keyboard – you will at some point end up with a computer file containing your manuscript.

Elsewhere in this book I explore the whole submissions process in great detail but, for now, let’s assume that you have already digested that splendid chapter, have perfected your submission, and your manuscript is out with a number of agents. And what is more, for the purposes of this illustration we are going to assume that they love it and want to sign you up.

Congratulations. Exciting, and occasionally confusing, times lie ahead.

Usually the first person to get to grips with a writer’s manuscript, other than the writer themselves, is an agent. Agents receive hundreds, if not thousands, of manuscripts every week and trawl through them to find the ones that appeal to them, that they think show great talent and potential and that they can sell to publishers and make money from. I look at how agents work and what they do in more detail in the next chapter of this book but for now the important thing to know is that an agent is someone who has contacts throughout the publishing world and will know which publishers and editors are most likely to want to publish your book. Their job is to get your manuscript in front of those people and persuade them to sign it up, and they are better placed to do this than most authors.

But before they do, they are highly likely to want to edit your manuscript, to help you knock it into shape. These days an agent is often an author’s first professional editor and you can expect some weeks, perhaps even months, of tweaks and new drafts before they feel the book is ready to send out. Once it is ready, they will begin their quest to find you a publisher.

Your manuscript will now be pinging its way into the email inboxes of a select band of editors at publishing houses, together with an encouraging email from your agent. The tone and content of the email will depend on the realistic expectations your agent has for the book. If they feel it is a guaranteed blockbuster and deserves a whopping advance then they will only have sent it out to a few high-flying editors with big chequebooks, perhaps with a strict deadline for offers. Of course, for most authors this is not the case and the agent will have sent the manuscript to a handful of editors they think, based on their tastes and track records, will a) like the book, and b) be prepared to publish it. Once sent, they will sit back and wait for a response.

And wait. And wait. Just like agents, editors receive an overwhelming amount of submissions and they can only read so much in any given day. As a result, agents may have to wait a few weeks, sometimes even a couple of months, for a response and that response may not be positive – but it is far too early in the book to have any negative thoughts so let’s assume your agent has found an eager publisher. You have moved one step closer to seeing your book in your local bookshop. Crack open the fizzy wine or, at the very least, treat yourself to a cup of tea and a slice of cake.

quotes

‘Contains everything you need to know to get published’

Adam Kay, author of the No 1 bestseller This Is Going to Hurt

‘Shut up and listen to everything he has to say’

Caimh McDonnell, bestselling author of The Dublin Trilogy

‘The best editor I've ever worked with’

Ray Robinson, author of the Portico-shortlisted The Mating Habits of Stags

‘Scott has championed me from the very start of my self-published writing career. In 2011 he publicly noted that I was as good, if not better, than any traditionally published romcom author. As I sit at No 1 in the Kindle bestselling chart, I guess he knows what he’s talknig about’

Nicola May, No 1 bestselling author of the Cockleberry Bay trilogy

‘Demystifies the whole process of writing and publishing your book. I highly recommend it’

Sam Missingham, Lounge Books

’One of the best in the game‘

Ian Critchley, critic

‘Part instruction manual, part sat nav, part friendly arm around the shoulder, this is the book every aspiring writer needs to own’

John Mitchinson, co-founder, Unbound

‘A book-shaped boot camp for emerging writers...essential reading’

Judith Heneghan, director, Winchester Writers’ Festival

‘Scott knows the publishing industry inside out. Whenever I work with him I know my authors are in good hands’

Charlotte Seymour, literary agent

‘His short cuts on how to win are invaluable’

David Roche, former chief executive, Borders UK & Ireland


reviews

‘A guide to writing, editing, submitting and publishing – as the book’s subtitle says – from an industry perspective. A friendly, useful, realistic, up-to-date and detailed guide to what to expect from and with agents and publishers (as well as with non-traditional ways into publication), and how to approach them professionally. A great addition to any shelf of writery books. Recommended’

255 Book Review

‘Quite different from any other writing guide I’ve ever come across’

Antonia Honeywell, Booktime Brunch

extras

Scott Pack talks about his long career in the books industry – first in bookselling, then publishing, at houses large and small – in the podcast What Editors Want.

And here he is talking to Rachel Read It about the pressures and benefits of working in independent publishing.

And here’s another podcast in which Scott talks in detail about the content of Tips from a Publisher to Mark Stay of The Bestseller Experiment.

ABOUT

Scott Pack

Scott Pack is editor-at-large at Eye and Lightning Books. He was formerly head buyer at Waterstones and a senior editor at Harper Collins. He also has an editorial role at Unbound and runs successful Guardian masterclasses for writers.

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