So, having decided that I wanted to try and get my book published by a ‘proper/established/traditional’ publisher how do you decide who to send it to?

I had undertaken a course (run by Kevin Hogan) that helped enormously with the development of the book and how  I should approach getting it published, and which included some very good suggestions about what to say when you contacted a publisher, but that still leaves a very big world of publishing and me without much of a road map about where to start.

One of the things I discovered quite quickly is that publishers and literary agents ‘prefer’ to have the chance to consider your submission on their own; in other words they aren’t keen on the idea of me carpet-bombing the industry with my book.  It’s easy to see why this solus approach is in the interests of the publishers and agents and perhaps the risk of ignoring their preference is small, but it only takes someone interested in your book to speak to someone else that you’ve sent it to, and you’ve put that relationship at risk.

Perhaps naively I’ve opted for a ‘one at a time’ approach; I suppose I’ll never know if that’s right or not!

Another question to consider is, should I go straight to a publisher or should I get an agent?

It seems likely that an agent would have more chance of being heard by a publisher than an unknown author, and a good one should provide expertise on marketing and promotion too: along with the publisher it’s another person on the team supporting your work.

Of course, that comes at a price.  A percentage of your percentage would have to go to pay their commission.  At this (optimistic) stage I’m inclined to think that this would be a virtuous addition so I’m happy to pursue that route.

But that still leaves an awful lot of literary agents, so how do you know which of them to approach?

Received wisdom is that you should look for books like your own and see who represents those authors.

There is an alternative.  But it requires networking and the most extraordinary good luck. 

Next time I’ll tell you about Francis; every aspiring author should do their level best to find a Francis (although I fear they are extremely rare).

Philip Graves


  1. Philip Graves

    @Anthony Lemme
    Both writing and trying to get published are significant challenges; the advantage with writing is that it’s entirely in your control – perhaps more than anything else in life! Getting published is almost the polar opposite!


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