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Getting Your Book Ready


In most cases, we suggest finishing your novel or memoir before submitting it to us (see our guidance on non-fiction proposals). To improve the chance of your book getting the attention of our team, it is important to send it in the best shape possible.  


Ways to improve your manuscript:




Check back over your work. This seems straight forward but it can sometimes be difficult to know what to look for. You may find it useful to think about:


  • Plot or central concept: does this carry all the way through? Does it have enough momentum to keep the reader interested?


  • Characters: is there a clear sense of them and how they differ from each other? Is their dialogue convincing and differentiated? Does the protagonist develop/go on a journey? Is the reader likely to connect with them? Are there any supporting characters that appear a lot early on then disappear part way through?


  • Setting: how much do you want a sense of place to come through in your story? Does it jump around settings, and is any transition or change as clear to the reader as it could be? 


  • Style and tone: is it funny or tense, for example, and is this consistent throughout?


  • Readers: who are they? Will they understand what is going on and be gripped by the plot or connect with the characters? If there is something you want to convey to them, can you show it through the story rather than telling them?


  • Tidying up: are there typos? Do any words, lines or sections feel repetitive?  


Feedback from others


It can be daunting sharing your work with others, but it is a useful way of getting a reader’s perspective. It’s not always about whether they ‘like’ your book or not but whether it is working in the way you want it to. Other than asking friends and family you might want to consider.


  • Joining a writers’ group: this can be a great way to get feedback and advice from other authors, as well as peer support along your writing journey. Organisations such as Society of Authors, Literature Wales, and Irish Writers Centre have a directory of groups but you can find information online, ask for recommendations from other authors or check with your local library 


  • Prizes and competitions: submitting your work to prizes and competitions can be a good way of getting used to the exposure of sharing your writing. Many competitions offer mentoring and feedback as prizes. Do make sure you research the competition and its reputability before sending your work in


  • Courses: authors don’t need to have completed a creative writing course before submitting to us, however some find it a helpful way to develop their skills and get feedback on their work. As well as paid courses, many writing organisations, including the National Centre for Writing, offer free and discounted ones, as well as opportunities to apply for bursaries and funding 


  • Getting professional feedback or mentoring: again, we do not expect that work submitted to us has been read or edited by a publishing professional, but are aware that some authors find this useful. As well as paid services, some organisations such as Spread the Word offer free opportunities for feedback. 




There are plenty of books, articles and videos out there about writing and editing and about the publishing process more generally. Here are some organisations which offer free, online resources for authors:

  • Spread the Word

  • Writers & Artists

  • Scottish Book Trust

  • The Literary Consultancy

  • New Writing North

  • National Centre for Writing

  • Society of Authors

  • New Writing South

  • Literature Wales

  • Irish Writers Centre 


Last but not least, read. Reading is a vital part of developing your work. A break from your own writing and a dip into the works of others can really do wonders for your manuscript and your mind. It also helps to have a sense of your own book’s positioning in the market, of which books it’s similar to, and the readers it might appeal to.  


This is in no way an exhaustive list, the creative process is an incredibly personal one and you’ll need to find what works for you. We look forward to reading your work when it’s ready. 

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