Getting Published

Please remember that Scottish Book Trust is not a publishing house. We cannot review or comment on unpublished work, nor can we help writers or illustrators get published.

Here is some general advice about submitting work to publishers.

Write the Book

Is your book finished? A publisher will not be interested in a half-finished book, no matter how good the first few chapters are. Aside from anything else they need to know that you have the commitment to complete the book before they take it on. (This is not always the case for non-fiction. See submitting work to a publisher.)

Draft, Redraft and Redraft again

Have you checked countless times for spelling and punctuation mistakes? Have you left your manuscript in a cupboard for a month and gone back to it with a fresh eye? Have you asked somebody to proofread it for you? If not, then you are not ready to submit your work to a publisher.  Publishers are inundated with thousands of manuscripts a year and can afford to be picky. They are very unlikely to accept a manuscript which needs a huge amount of time (and therefore money) spent on it when there are talented writers who will go the extra mile to make sure that their work is as good as it possibly can be.  If you would like feedback on your work, you may wish to send it to a literary consultancy or manuscript appraisal service.

Do your research

Before you submit anything to a publisher, it's very important that you do your research.  Consult the Writers and Artists Yearbook for comprehensive information on publishers and agents.

Investigate whether the publishers' booklist appears to favour a particular type of book. For example, if you have written a fantasy book, look out for a publisher that publishes fantasy, particularly the kind which you enjoy. It is also worth visiting a few bookshops and libraries and spending some time browsing the relevant subject section, making a list of publishers.

Many publishers prefer approaches to be made through literary agents. Check all these details first and you will save time and money.

Submitting to a publisher

When submitting a manuscript to a publisher, do check that they look at submissions made in this way (unsolicited manuscripts). Some publishers may also have specific guidelines for submissions - for example they may only want to see a synopsis and sample chapters to begin with, or a non-fiction publisher may simply be looking for a proposal. Find this out before you send anything.  

Send your submission with a short letter explaining who you are, what your background is and a brief description of your work. Find out more about submission letters.

If you would like your manuscript returned then make sure you include a self-addressed envelope with enough postage to cover the return postage. But always keep a copy of anything you send to publishers or agents.  Above all, be patient. It may take a long time for the publisher to get back to you.  

Rejection and Feedback

You may have heard stories of writers who have been offered five figure book deals after sending their book to an agent or publisher ‘on the off chance.' This virtually never happens. Most writers will have to send their books to more than one publisher, and many highly successful authors have been turned down many times before they were eventually taken on. If a publisher asks you to submit further work on the basis of a synopsis or sample chapters you should feel encouraged, even if this does not lead to a publishing deal. If you receive a refusal letter offering advice on improving your work this is also a good sign; most publishers will not offer any feedback because this means more work for them. If you do receive feedback this is generally because the publisher believes that you show some promise. Don't bother to reply to a letter giving feedback, you will not convince the publisher that they should take you on, and you are likely to get on their nerves. Remember this advice could provide invaluable when it comes to making your book more appealing to the next publisher, so take it on board and move on. Most importantly you will have to be patient, it will almost certainly be a slow process, but hopefully it will be worth it in the end.

Information and advice

The Writers and Artists Yearbook
A useful website from A&C Black

Society of Authors
Membership is only open to published authors, but there is some valuable information available to everyone, including downloads and information on grants and prizes. Unpublished Authors with a publishing deal or agent can also apply for associate membership.

Writers' Services
Lots of useful information and advice for writers. 

This UK site provides information about professional development opportunities including courses, workshops, mentoring and literary consultancies.

Organization supporting writers in the Highlands and Islands.  Also offers a national critical appraisal service and the website includes some very useful downloads.

New Writing North
This site for writers living in the North East of England also includes helpful downloads for new writers.

Cultural Enterprise Office
Offers useful workshops  as well as one- to- one professional advice sessions for those wishing to make a career out of writing.

Literary Consultancies/ Manuscript Appraisal Services

A Literary consultancy or manuscript appraisal service will read your work and offer feedback on how to make it more appealing to a publisher. Some literary consultancies also offer mentoring programmes and some also scout for leading publishers and agents.


Author Nicola Morgan's no nonsense blog.

How publishing really works
Interesting blog from a professional with experience as an editor, researcher and writer.