Will a publisher read your manuscript?

Back again … Feels like my phone’s been ringing non-flipping-stop lately. It’s a bit Russian Roulettey answering the damn thing at times, not knowing who’ll be on the other end. Just now however, it was a lovely lady asking me for advice on whether she can send her manuscript direct to a publisher or not. I so enjoy speaking to authors who are at this stage of the publishing game – manuscript written and ready to go, full of enthusiasm and hope! Just in case any of you are in a similar position, the short answer is there is nothing stopping you from sending your working straight to a publisher, but but but, always do your homework first.

This involves firstly looking in the Yearbook for publishers who handle your particular subject or genre (there’s no point sending your fantasy novel to a publisher who produces medical textbooks – sounds obvious but it happens!). As a (very) general rule, non-fiction publishers will look at unsolicited material, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a fiction publisher who does. This is simply down to the sheer volume of fiction manuscripts which get submitted (an average literary agent receives in the region of 30 to 50 a day). There are stories of bestselling books having been plucked from the slush pile but these are memorable precisely because they are so very rare. The bottom line is – do your research. Don’t just pop your work into a jiffy and hope it’ll speak for itself. Need more info? You’ll find all the answers in the Yearbook … promise.

An interesting ditty caught my eye this week – a survey carried out for World Book Day found that two-thirds of people have claimed to have read a book they haven’t. The biggest fibbed about titles are 1984 (George Orwell) and War and Peace (Tolstoy) and Ulysses (James Joyce). I’ve read one (1984, thanks to O level English Literature) and never lied about the other two. That said, I have told a few porkies about a Kafka, Dickens and Hardy though … come on … be honest.

Last word – I’m really enjoying Red Riding on C4. It’s a three-part adaptation of David Pearce’s quartet of crime novels (Serpent’s Tail). Oh and Mistresses of course. Why did Siobhan do it?

Warm wishes, Jo

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