The Rejection Letters: How Publishers Snubbed 11 Great Authors


After nine years of rejection from publishers, Eimear McBride’s debut, A Girl is a Half Formed Thing, won the 2014 Bailey’s Prize. But the Irish writer won’t be the last to laugh in the face of those publishing houses who won’t take a punt on an experimental or challenging novel.

From Gertude Stein and William Burroughs to recent rags-to-riches writers such as J.K. Rowling and Cassandra Clare, there have been brutal rejection letters to accompany most bestselling novels. Here are extracts from some of them:

1. “Overwhelmingly nauseating, even to an enlightened Freudian…the whole thing is an unsure cross between hideous reality and improbable fantasy. It often becomes a wild neurotic daydream… I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years.”

Thankfully, for both Vladimir Nabokov and literature as a whole, Lolita wasn’t buried, but published in France after two years of rejections by New York publishers such as Viking, Simon & Schuster, New Directions, Farrar, Straus, and Doubleday. When Graham Greene got hold of it, shortly after its French publication, he reviewed it in The Sunday Times, describing it as “one of the three best books of 1955”.

Despite this, the novel still wasn’t published in the UK until 1957, because the Home Office seized all imported copies and France banned it. When British publishing house Weidenfeld & Nicolson took it on, it was at the cost of Nigel Nicolson’s political career.

2. “The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the ‘curiosity’ level.”

One of the 15 publishers who didn’t think The Diary of Anne Frank was worth reading.

3. “First, we must ask, does it have to be a whale?

“While this is a rather delightful, if somewhat esoteric, plot device, we recommend an antagonist with a more popular visage among the younger readers. For instance, could not the Captain be struggling with a depravity towards young, perhaps voluptuous, maidens?”

Herman Melville’s leviathan novel was rejected, as above, by Peter J Bentley. However, Richard Bentley, of the same London publishing house, eventually offered him a contract in 1851. Moby Dick was published 18 months later than Melville expected and at great personal expense, as he arranged for the typesetting and plating of his book himself to speed up the process. Young, voluptuous maidens never made the final edit.

4. “For your own sake, do not publish this book.”

One publisher turned down DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, first published in 1928. Perhaps they had predicted the furore that was unleashed when the full novel did hit the British bookshelves in 1960.

5. “Do you realise, young woman, that you’re the first American writer ever to poke fun at sex”

This was what Anita Loos received before her novel, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, was successfully published in 1925. It was part of a rejection note, although by today’s standards it sounds quite the accolade.

6. “Miss Play has a way with words and a sharp eye for unusual and vivid detail. But maybe now that this book is out of her system she will use her talent more effectively next time. I doubt if anyone over here will pick this novel up, so we might well have a second chance.”

An editor at Knopf in 1963 rejected Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar when it was submitted under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. After realising it had been written by Plath, who had already published a couple of poetry collections, the same editor read and rejected it again – and managed to spell her real name three different incorrect ways in the process. His assertion that “she will use her talent more effectively next time” is poignant, as Plath had committed suicide six weeks earlier.

7. “You’re welcome to le Carré – he hasn’t got any future.”

A fantastically incorrect prediction by one publisher, sent to his colleague, upon turning down The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

8. “Your pigs are far more intelligent than the other animals, and therefore the best qualified to run the farm – in fact, there couldn’t have been an Animal Farm at all without them: so that what was needed, (someone might argue), was not more communism but more public-spirited pigs.”

The poet TS Eliot, editor of Faber & Faber, was one of the many publishers, including George Orwell’s own, Victor Gollancz, who rejected Animal Farm. When it was published, in 1946, Orwell’s original title, Animal Farm: A Fairy Story was amended.

9. “We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.”

Stephen King received this letter about Carrie. His first published novel was rejected so many times that King collected the accompanying notes on a spike in his bedroom. It was finally published in 1974 with a print run of 30,000 copies. When the paperback version was released a year later, it sold over a million copies in 12 months.

10. “I am only one, only one, only one. Only one being, one at the same time. Not two, not three, only one. Only one life to live, only sixty minutes in one hour. Only one pair of eyes. Only one brain. Only one being. Being only one, having only one pair of eyes, having only one time, having only one life, I cannot read your M.S. three or four times. Not even one time. Only one look, only one look is enough. Hardly one copy would sell here. Hardly one. Hardly one.”

So Arthur Fifield, founder of the British publishing house AC Fifield, wrote to Gertrude Stein after receiving one of her manuscripts in 1912.

11. “If I may be frank, Mr. Hemingway — you certainly are in your prose — I found your efforts to be both tedious and offensive. You really are a man’s man, aren’t you? I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that you had penned this entire story locked up at the club, ink in one hand, brandy in the other.”

Mrs Moberley Luger, of Peacock & Peacock, didn’t realise how accurate she was in her 1925 rejection letter of Ernest Heminway’s The Sun Also Rises.


So if you’ve been rejected don’t be disheartened, it might be you one day who is able to look back and laugh at the publisher who didn’t want your bestseller!

Happy writing x



How To Edit Your Own Writing


The truth about a first draft is that it doesn’t need to be perfect – it just needs to be written. Even Hemingway claimed that “the first draft of anything is sh*t”. The first draft is where it starts, but even after you place the lid back on your pen, or press print – the process is far from over. The end of writing (and re-writing) marks the beginning of editing your work.

Writing and editing go hand in hand when it comes to producing masterpieces. When we talk about ‘great writing’, we’re also indirectly talking about ‘great editing’. While some writers have the privilege of working for a publishing company and have a professional editor to go through their work, other writers, particularly those just starting out, are their own editors. This article is for the latter. Read on for tips on how to edit your own writing…

Finish Your Work

Before we allow ourselves to be a critic of our work, we have to first finish being a writer. While the creative process can work in many ways, producing work is completely different from critiquing. Allowing both processes to intercede may demoralise the art of our writing. So always give yourself time to finish writing, and then edit it later.

Don’t look back until you’ve written an entire draft, just begin each day from the last sentence you wrote the preceding day. This prevents those cringing feelings, and means that you have a substantial body of work before you get down to the real work which is all in the edit.” — Will Self

Read It Aloud

One of the most effective ways of editing your work is to read it out loud. Reading aloud will force you to take note of your words – each and every one of them. This way, technicalities such as spelling, grammar and punctuation are magnified and more easily spotted. The trick to reading aloud is to read slowly. Speed-reading through your work will not help the editing process.

Reading your work aloud will also sound different compared to when you read it in your mind. When you speak aloud, you’ll begin to hear how your sentences are structured (for better or for worse). Ask yourself, does your work sound clunky? All the clumsy, unnecessary words should be then cut out. If you can imagine it, it’s like the way gardeners shape hedges into desired, quirky shapes; It’s a long process and takes a lot of detailed work.

Anyone and everyone taking a writing class knows that the secret of good writing is to cut it back, pare it down, winnow, chop, hack, prune, and trim, remove every superfluous word, compress, compress, compress…” – Nick Hornby

Take A Break

Editing your own work can be a tedious task. Writers don’t always have the privilege of time but when you do, let the editing process breathe. That means, walk away from your work, get some rest and focus on another activity for a while before coming back to your manuscript. If you find yourself constantly deleting and rewriting big chunks of work, or correcting a comma use, only to put it back again, then it might be due time to take that break.

After re-reading your work a couple of times, the structure and sentences of your work will become so familiar that the easiest mistakes will just slide past your eyes. Taking a break will allow you to come back to your work with a fresh perspective. 

The best advice I can give on this is, once it’s done, to put it away until you can read it with new eyes. Finish the short story, print it out, then put it in a drawer and write other things. When you’re ready, pick it up and read it, as if you’ve never read it before. If there are things you aren’t satisfied with as a reader, go in and fix them as a writer: that’s revision.” – Neil Gaiman

Read It Again And Again

There is no magic formula nor set amount of times a work should be edited before it’s ‘right’. While reading your manuscript slowly from front to back may help spot mistakes, another tip is to read it backwards. It may be confusing, but it will certainly help you be a forceful spell-checker on your own, as is makes you examine every individual word out of context.

Are there any words that you aren’t sure about? Get a dictionary. Use a standard dictionary such as The Oxford English Dictionary, or whatever equivalent is commonly used in your jurisdiction.

And look out for contextual errors that spell-check won’t necessarily pick up on. Some of the most common are:

  1. You’re/Your
  2. Affect/Effect
  3. They’re/Their/There
  4. Its/It’s
  5. Then/Than

These errors may be small, but they make all the difference as to how your work will pen out in its final form. It’s the smallest details that convey the type of writer you are and will be.

Be mindful of different perspectives. Ask yourself, how would you feel as the reader? How is what you’re saying conveyed? Sometimes as writers, we get so caught up in trying to account for our own understanding that we begin to lose sight how our work may be interpreted by our target audience.

Let Someone Else Read/Edit It

It is crucial that someone else, other than yourself helps you read through your work before you submit to any publications. Whether it is a professional editor or a trusted writer-friend, getting someone else to read and edit your work is always helpful, as they tend to be able to notice the mistakes that you’ve missed. They will also be able to give a different perspective without being emotionally biased towards your work. This helps prepare you for how your audience might interpret your story.

Editing is for anyone and everyone who writes, especially professionally. In an interview published in The Paris Review with Ernest Hemingway in 1956, Hemingway said that he rewrote the last page of Farewell to Arms 39 times before he was satisfied. The biggest problem, he admitted, was “getting the words right”.

The repetitiveness of re-reading and rewriting during the editing process can be brutal, demoralising and sometimes painfully slow, but it is always completely necessary for writers. When there comes a time when this process discourages you from writing, remember that heavy edit days make great writers.

Good luck!



How To Write A Killer Cover Letter


A cover letter introduces you and your novel to potential publishers. This letter is your first point of contact between you and a publisher, therefore, it is crucial that aspiring authors know how to write a decent cover letter.

Here are three common questions, answered for writers looking to pave a successful path into the world of publishing with a cover letter that leaves an impression…

What do I need?

1. An ‘elevator pitch’ & hook

An ‘elevator pitch’ is a brief and punchy summary of your novel that could be told to someone important between floors of a short elevator ride. Condense the core ideas of your novel in a dynamic and enthusiastic couple of sentences. Remember that your cover letter should be no longer than a page, so this section can only take a up a paragraph or two. Show them why it’s worth reading and be sure to include a ‘hook’ – something that drags your reader into the story, and leaves them dying to know what happens next.

2. A target audience

Outline your target audience to publishers and demonstrate an alignment to their publishing vision. A good way to start is by looking at previous novels they have published and whether these books fall in the same category as yours, and share a target audience. Remember to be specific, publishers need more information than ‘Adult’. Include your audience’s gender, age group, interests, etc., if applicable.

3. Novel titles comparable to yours

Give two titles comparable to your novel (even better if they’re published by the publisher you’re reaching out to). This is a great way to establish direct relevance and relation to potential publishers. More than that, it gives them an idea of where your novel will sit in the marketplace and how it will work with their existing list.

4. A word count

A simple and necessary step to let publishers know how long your novel is.

5. A killer author bio

Be interesting, be readable and draw publishers in with who you are and what you intend to do with your work. Here is also the place to list existing publishing credentials, and relevant education such as writing courses or degrees. You want to be able to get publishers to see that you are a capable, focused and passionate writer.

6. Contact details

Give yourself the opportunity to be contacted if the publishers decide to get in touch for further questions or discussions. Include your phone number, address and most importantly, your email address.

How do I put it together?

Put the above elements together in an easy-to-read, simple form. Keep sentences short, purposeful and in an active voice. The desired length of your letter should no longer than a page. Opt for a 12pt standard font such as Times New Roman, and 1.5 spacing.

Many new authors make the mistake of attempting to detail their entire background, life achievements and a lengthy breakdown of their novel. Long, unnecessary paragraphs will irritate the editor and an irritated submissions editor is not someone you want reading your life’s work and deciding its future.

In addition to being concise, remember to keep it error-free. Creatively-written content may help you stand out, but keep in mind that your letter is still a business proposal. It also goes without saying that a successful pitch leaves no room for error so before you click send, proofread it again and again. Better still, have other writer friends review it and provide you with feedback.

Do I include my manuscript? 

Always follow the publisher’s submission guidelines. These guidelines are usually accessible on publisher’s website. The most common request is to include the first three chapters. In addition, you might also be asked for a synopsis (usually no longer than 300-words). We cannot stress enough the importance of adhering to the guidelines – this shows that you care about the publisher’s work as well as yours.

Some other useful tips

  • Address your cover letter by name. Avoid clichés such as “dear sir/madam” or “to whom it may concern”. It is more genuine and respectful.
  • Use more formal language throughout the letter.
  • Have a logical and readable structure.
  • Thank the publisher for their time.
  • Sign off gracefully – e.g. “yours sincerely” – before your name.

With these tips, you’re good to go!



How To Write A Killer Synopsis

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What is a Synopsis?

A synopsis is a succinct account of a manuscript’s plot, characters, setting, style and mood. Grouped with the cover letter and the chapter sample, it is a vital piece of the querying jigsaw.

The synopsis demonstrates your writing talent, shows your ability to craft a good story and, above all else, should get the editor clamouring to read the full manuscript.

Many authors loathe the synopsis, and it’s easy to see why. After working tirelessly on their manuscript, they must condense the essence of what could be more than 100,000 words into no more than two or three pages.

With such a limited word count, it can be an excruciating task identifying which parts of your work to include and which to leave out. But as with most impossible-sounding tasks, if you break it down and take things one step at a time, it’s going to get a whole lot easier.

What Should a Synopsis Do?

While there are no definitive rules about how you should approach the synopsis, there are some elements that you must get right.

Reveal the ending

One of the biggest mistakes made by green authors is to hide the ending in their synopsis. You must show how your story ends! There is nothing more infuriating than arriving at an unsatisfying ending.

You wouldn’t starve your readership of a great climax, so why do it to the editor – the one person who might just get your book on the shelves?

NOTE: Your ending may be inconclusive on purpose, and this is fine. Your story might be the first of an incomplete series or you might be leaving something up to the imagination of the readers. This is okay, as long as you can prove that the ending works and actually present how it unfolds.

Prove that your manuscript is not flawed

An editor will be able to spot any major problems with your manuscript just by reading the synopsis. Your character’s motivation might not match their decisions, or the opening may have no apparent connection to the middle of the story.

If you get it right, though, the editor will see that you can craft a well-rounded story, with strong character motivations and natural links from start to finish.

However, you shouldn’t wait for the editor to spot the flaws. If you can see them for yourself after writing the synopsis, consider postponing your submission until your manuscript has undergone more editing.

Capture attention

The synopsis, as part of the query, is your one shot at getting the attention of a publisher.

Think of it like a theatrical movie trailer that gives away the entire story. At the cinema, when an exciting trailer comes to an end, you might turn to your friend and say, ‘I can’t wait to see that one’. The editor’s office is no different. When your synopsis turns up on their desk, you want them turning to their colleagues and saying, ‘I can’t wait to read that one’.

Use all the tools at your disposal to make your synopsis stand out. Use vivid and emotive language. Make sure the mood of your synopsis matches that of your manuscript. Show the editor that your manuscript is marketable and do everything you can to prove your book will sell.

What Should a Synopsis NOT Do?

No matter what type of synopsis and no matter where you’re submitting it, you should definitely bear in mind the following universal no-nos.

Outline the plot

The terms ‘synopsis’ and ‘outline’ can be used interchangeably but they are, in fact, vastly different. Like a primary school student writing a recount, an outline is a chapter-by-chapter summary of events. ‘First someone did this, then they did that, and after someone did that, this happened…’ And so on.

While this mechanical outline does exhibit your pacing, it is not going to get the editor excited about your novel. Besides, if your synopsis is written well, the editor should understand how the text is paced anyway.

Make it sound like marketing

Will the publisher like the author’s synopsis or will it end up in the recycling bin with the others?

You want to know the answer to this, don’t you? It might seem like finishing your synopsis like this will tempt the editor into asking for more. You want to tantalise them, leave them on the edge of their seat, right?

Wrong. When you write a synopsis, it is easy to fall into the trap of using language that sounds like the copy on a hardcover jacket or the back cover blurb of a paperback. But this is not the purpose of a synopsis.

Your writing should be clear and concise, revealing the essentials of your story without ambiguity. Use rhetorical questions sparingly, and certainly avoid using them to create suspense.

Explain themes or backstory

It can be helpful for you to include themes in your synopsis, but there’s no need to explain how they play out in your work. You simply don’t have the word count and, if you’ve written your synopsis well, the editor should be able to get a feel for the themes without you spoon-feeding them.

Similarly, you don’t have enough words to explain the background of your story in great detail. Don’t worry about detailing how your fantasy world came into being or how each member of your protagonist’s family affects their personality.

If it’s not essential to the conflict and plot development of your story, it doesn’t need to be included. As suggested in Step 2 below, any vital element of backstory should be placed in your opening paragraph.

How to Write a Synopsis

As with any creative work, there is no universally accepted method to writing a synopsis. Neither is there a certain style or layout you must follow. This will of course depend on the type of manuscript you’ve written.

The following outline is only a guide. Some steps may feel like overkill or mightn’t suit the way you work. Experiment and find out what works for you.

Step 1: Decide what to include

This is the most difficult step: choosing who and what is critical to your manuscript.

First, consider the role of each character and whether they generate conflict for the protagonist. The heart of all great fiction is conflict, and your synopsis needs to focus on this aspect of your story.

Then ask yourself, does the ending make sense without this character or without this plot point?

You might have a well-rounded secondary character, a subplot or a feature of your setting that you believe will sway your editor. But the hard truth is that, more often than not, you’ll be better off leaving it out.

Cut things back to basics: include any characters and plot points necessary for the ending to make sense. Leave the rest out.

Though the secondary aspects of your story are still significant and might make the difference if the editor asks to see more of the manuscript, the essential elements of your story are the most important and should be good enough to sell your idea.

If you work out what should and shouldn’t be included in your synopsis from the beginning, it will save you time and effort down the track. There’s nothing worse than spending time summarising a secondary story arc, only to realise that you’re going to run out of words if you include it.

Planning from the beginning will also help to clarify the essence of your book. A clear vision will help set you on the right track as you start to write.

Step 2: Write the introduction

If you’re at the stage of writing your synopsis, you might not even remember writing the opening line of your manuscript. But the beginning of your synopsis has to be just as good as the beginning of your novel.

Spend time on your opening line and keep working at it until it is perfect. Catch the editor’s attention. Hook them in and don’t let them escape.

Your first paragraph should introduce the protagonist, introduce the problem that sets them on the pathway of your plot, and describe the setting. It should cover the essentials of who, where, when and why.

Write in the present tense. Include any vital elements of backstory – those that ensure the ending will make sense when you come to it.

Step 3: Write the middle

Your synopsis needs a strong middle section: one that successfully moves the story onwards from the introduction and keeps the reader interested as you approach the ending.

Keep this section of your synopsis moving. If the pace feels too slow, cut words or sentences out, even if you included them in your planning.

Focus mainly on the plot, but make sure you show how the protagonist is changing. Your character shouldn’t transform suddenly from timid teenager to confident young adult. Explain the events of the story, and as you go, detail the characters’ gradual change as a result of those events.

Step 4: Finish it off

The next step is clear: finish the synopsis. There are a couple of things your final section should achieve. Firstly, as we mentioned above, you must reveal the ending. The editor needs to know that your beginning and middle sections lead to a logical, conclusive and exciting climax.

Secondly, you need to present the characters’ development. This should be easy if you followed Step 3. Your characters will have arrived at their final destination, metamorphosis complete.

Describe what they have learnt or how they have changed. Compare their feelings from the start of the journey with their feelings as they walk towards the setting sun and the credits start to slide.

Step 5: Clean it up

You can’t avoid it. When you’ve finished writing, it’s time to edit!

Go through the same editing process you went through with your manuscript. Check for grammatical and spelling errors. Make sure your synopsis flows logically and each section of the story links to the next.

Remember to read over your work with that initial question in mind: Does the ending make sense if I include/exclude [x]? If you’re well above the suggested word count, be ruthless. If you can cut something while retaining the sense of your ending, do it!

Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart…” — Stephen King

Step 6: Saving and sharing

Often, depending on where you’re submitting, the length of the synopsis will vary. When you’re happy with your final draft, save a default copy to work with each time you prepare a new query or submission.

If you have a default copy on file, it’s easier to mould your synopsis when you find that your next target asks for ‘a brief synopsis of no more than 300 words’. Simply work through the same process, keeping only what is critical to the manuscript.

Likewise, if the guidelines suggest you have a few hundred words more than your original draft, use the extra words to show off. You might even be able to weave in one of those secondary elements you had to cut from your original.

Be sure to save each new copy. It’s easier to reduce a 600-word synopsis down to 500 words than it is to cut down from 1000 words.

Also, don’t forget to share your work. Give it to friends and family. Read it aloud with the members of your writers’ group. Just like you did with your manuscript, listen to feedback and be sure that your synopsis is the best it can be before you format it, ready for submission.

Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” — Ken Blanchard

Handy Hints

Tell, don’t show

I say f*** the old advice ‘show, don’t tell.’ It’s called story TELLING for a reason…” — Ashly Lorenzana

You’ve heard it before: show, don’t tell. But when it comes to writing your synopsis, telling is absolutely fine.

You simply don’t have enough words to employ flowery language in every sentence. You’re better off getting straight to the point and being clear, concise and unambiguous.

However, this doesn’t mean you have to tell everything! As best you can within the word count, find a balance between showing and telling.

Write your synopsis at the start

All writers work in different ways. Some like to plan out their novel from the beginning; others like to see where their writing can take them, with little or no planning at all.

Consider this: writing your synopsis from the very beginning, even before you write your opening scene, has two main benefits.

Firstly, you won’t have to write the synopsis when you come to the end of your manuscript. It will already be there, a working document that will just need a bit of tweaking.

Sure, your story might take you to a place you never considered when you wrote the original. But again, you can simply rewrite the synopsis as you go. This will help you out when it comes to that all-important final kilometre.

The synopsis can also assist you in multiple ways for the process of editing. A structural edit will be made easier if you can see the development of your plot and your characters just by skimming over one document. You’ll know immediately which scenes are the most important and in which order they occur. This is especially helpful in longer manuscripts.

Read some examples

Whether you’re a seasoned synopsis writer or sitting down to your very first, you should be able to pick out the strengths and weaknesses of different pieces. Study the layout, style and language. Look for the strengths and try to emulate them.

You’ll be able to find a number of examples just by doing a quick Google search; Writer’s Digest also has an extensive list of movie synopses to peruse.

Navigate with a critical eye. Not all synopses posted online will be good examples. And keep in mind the interplay between the words ‘synopsis’, ‘outline’ and ‘summary’.


For editors on the hunt for their next project, the synopsis is the doorway to your story – the last post guarding entrance to the world that is your manuscript. Don’t lock them out. Welcome them inside and give your manuscript its best chance to get published.

Good Luck!


How To Promote Your Book Politely And Keep Your Friends


I get flooded with ‘please read my book’ and ‘check out my new book now’ requests on various social media and online forums.

So I thought it might be a good idea to scribble a few hints for new self-published authors.

I was so tempted to title this list of hints ‘Don’t annoy people before they have discovered your book’, but I won’t.

Instead, I’ll settle for this.

1. DO NOT direct message people on any forum asking them to read your brilliant new book.

It’s a guaranteed method for really annoying people, and poof, there goes a bundle of potential readers or book buyers in an instant (message).

2. DO engage with people on social media.

The rule of social networking is to make contacts, make friends, make fans, make buyers.

Don’t ever think there’s a short-cut to this formula.

3. DO have a blog and a website.

These are the most suitable places to promote your book buy links and book reviews.

But make sure you have some wonderful content as well, to show off your writing skills.

Yes, your writing skills need to be front and centre.

Readers are very selective so they will never just click and buy your book without a very good reason to do so. Attract their interest in your writing.

4. DO NOT pretend.

Be yourself no matter what. You’ll only succeed if people are interested in you because you are genuine.

5. DO be careful about how you respond to reviews.

Perhaps thank book bloggers, but directly and not in the blog’s comments.

You can click yes to ‘Was this review helpful to you?’ for an Amazon review, which helps add a little weight to a good review.

However, never respond to bad reviews, no matter how upset you may be.

Leave them alone and ignore them, as any reaction from you will only inflame, and directly harm your author reputation.

6. DO NOT try to flood the Internet with your book.

It’s flooded already, so who will notice you?

Be targeted and know your potential market. (I know mine, but that’s my secret!)

You could always invest a little in book promotion. Here are some book promotion sites that you could consider.

7. DO use bookmarking sites and social media to promote your blog.

A well written and topical blog post can potentially go viral.

This is the very best way to get some real attention, but be careful. Don’t overdo it.

I post most days, and perhaps once a month a post really goes mad. Be patient and again, write well.

8. DO learn how to format anchor text in your links.

Nothing looks more amateur than posting a web address link like this.

It should look like this:  Get One Last Love Here.

Or more preferably, your link should be embedded in an image, like this.

One Last Love

9. DO NOT write clichéd short bios on social media sites and blogs.

You’re supposed to be a writer.

If you can’t write an original bio about yourself, give up writing and take up pottery. Or at least hire a copywriter to do it for you.

10. DO be patient.

Most overnight successes take about 30 years on average, so don’t rush it.

Learn to walk before you start running.

Now if you’re still reading, there are, of course, a lot more do’s and don’t’s to book promotion, but this short list will get you started.

Use your head and think before you jump.

My golden rule is: how would I react if I came across myself and my book marketing?

Simple, but effective.



Don’t Underestimate Reader Recommendations | Mads Holmen

Reading people

The web has grown to become the main source of information and discovery for many people, and they depend on it to help build their perception of the world. However, at the same time the amount of information available has exploded.

Just think of Spotify’s 30m music tracks – there’s enough content just there to fill hundreds of human lifetimes. YouTube receives more video in a minute than you could ever watch and Facebook must choose from an average of 2600 relevant posts when you fire up your feed.

So, to manage the constant stream of potential information from overloading us, we all daily interact with recommender systems now. Some well-known examples include Facebook and Instagram’s Feed, Spotify’s Discover Weekly, movie and book recommendations on Netflix and Amazon – but recommenders are everywhere, assisting you to do everything from booking your travel to dating or ordering food.

However, there is one problem. Diversity.

The public discourse has now accepted terms like filter bubbles, echo chambers and fake news, but we’ve still done preciously little to consider the systems design that caused this new trend.

I heard a panelist in Amsterdam last week say that he genuinely believed Facebook and Google could incidentally cause the next global conflict by virtue of creating a more polarized media landscape. They didn’t plan to, but by rewarding attention-grabbing content that drives engagement, these companies have created a perverse incentive structure for content creators.

Ev Williams, the founder of Medium and Twitter, often uses the car crash analogy. The current systems rewards extremes he says. Say you’re driving down the road and see a car crash. Of course, you look. Everyone looks. The internet interprets behavior like this to mean everyone is asking for car crashes, so it tries to supply more of them.

It interprets what we do, as the person we are.

When popularity and engagement drive the publishing industry, we lose sight of what gave the industry its privileged status in society in the first place – trust and human aspiration. So, while it is tempting for businesses to interpret popularity as a signal that people simply want more of that stuff, that would be a mistake. People also want diversity, because it serves a different purpose in our lives – that of our better, future self. In the recommender systems space, we call this problem exploitation vs exploration.

One of the editors on our blog, Sam Lay, wrote beautifully about why diversity is an important counteract to popularity – and why the reason is human aspiration.

“Every Monday my unambitious and unsophisticated musical choices stare me in the face. I can clearly see why Discover Weekly is choosing the songs it does and that’s slightly embarrassing.…My saves, shares and playlist adds on Spotify indicate my aspirational self, the music I would like to be associated with, whilst what I actually listen to often serves a practical purpose or satisfies a guilty pleasure.”

In short, he argues that there is a difference between what our actual self may do in the moment and what future our aspirational self is trying to steer us towards – and that any product that helped him be more of the latter would be worth more to him. Daniel Kahneman calls this the difference between our experiencing self and our remembering self.

The problem is often that aspiration and long-term product satisfaction cannot be measured as easily and immediately as popularity. However, we know from research that users actually tend to be more satisfied with diverse recommendations, i.e. being exposed to a wider variety of content, which can prompt the experience of serendipity — discovering something new when we were not expecting it. Those sorts of discoveries have disproportionate value.

So, if our ugly actual self stares us in the face every time we open Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, the best business opportunity around might be to cater more for our better selves. We know from countless branding studies that aspirational brands can charge a premium on their products and services (think Apple vs Dell), so I see no reason to assume that this shouldn’t be true in the publishing space too.

When speaking to friends about this article, one thing that kept coming back was how bookstores like Foyle’s in London are offering superior value by having diverse staff pick tables and an aspirational store environment. People buy an experience, not just a book. It might feel counter-intutivie when you’re chasing short-term clicks, but that experience will become ever more valuable if it reaches out to our better selves, rather than just re-circulating our current tastes.


The original article is here:

Should I Use A Publisher?


publishing contract childress - edited

As the self-publishing industry has grown and matured, it is natural that new service providers are now harnessing the growth in book publishing to create new businesses.

Over the last year or so, one of the biggest growth areas has been independent publishers. Many new authors are asking, ‘Should I use a publisher?’

For many reasons, the services of a publisher can offer many tempting benefits to an author, especially for those authors new to self-publishing.

For the computer and Internet savvy, self-publishing is quite easy, yet there could well be time-saving possibilities that a reliable and honest publisher could offer.

If an author can spend more time writing rather than fighting with technology and wasting hours on social media, this may be one very good reason to engage a publisher.

Independent publishers fall into two main categories. Those who offer ‘assisted‘ self-publishing, which is a service that is usually charged for with a ‘one off fee‘ to get a book correctly formatted, a cover designed, perhaps a well-written book description and then publishing on retail platforms such as Kindle and Smashwords.

The second is a full-service publisher, who will manage publishing, marketing, sales and then make their money from a percentage of your book sales royalties.

Should I use a publisher?

Before signing up with a publisher, ask these questions BEFORE you sign.

As with any service providers, there are good and bad, so make sure you do your homework before entering into an agreement.

If you are considering using the services of an independent publisher, here are ten questions that you really need to ask before signing up.

1. Do I retain all rights to my book?

There should be no reason whatsoever for a publisher to ask for the rights to your book. Unless the publisher is offering you a substantial advance, which is highly unlikely, never sign away the rights to your book.

2. How do I terminate our publishing agreement?

So many problems can occur in any contractual arrangement. When considering a publishing agreement, never sign up or agree without knowing how the contract can be terminated. If the terms of termination involve losing the rights to your book, do not sign!

3. What is the total cost?

For assisted self-publishing this is very important. Make sure you get a detailed account in writing of what services will be performed, and how much you will be charged for each item. Make sure it is a fixed price and that you will not be charged for extras at a later date.

4. What services will you provide as my publisher?

Will you edit, copy edit or at least proofread my book before formatting and publishing it? Is there a charge for these services? Or am I responsible for undertaking the expense of preparing the final manuscript?

5. What will my royalty rate be and how often or when will I get paid?

A full-service publisher will take a percentage of your book sales royalty, so be certain of what this will amount will be. As royalties vary with every online retailer, from approximately 35% up to 70%, ask for a detailed explanation of how much the publisher will take in each case. Most importantly, how and when will your royalties be paid.

6. Will I get sales reports?

If your publisher manages your retailer accounts, you will probably not have access to this information, so you will have to rely on your publisher supplying you with sales and royalty reports on a regular basis. These should be supplied to you on at least a quarterly basis.

7. Who will promote your book?

A publisher of any worth should have a solid marketing platform, and preferably one with a sizeable mailing list. Of course, you will be expected to do a lot of book promotion for your own book, but be sure to ask how the publisher how they intend to market your book and maximise its sales opportunities.

8. How long has the publisher been in business?

An obvious question. Do your homework.

9. How many authors and titles does the publisher manage?

While a publisher may be new and have only a small stable, this may not be a bad thing, as you may receive more attention. Beware of small publishers that publish a vast amount of titles in a short period, as they won’t necessarily have the resources to give each author the time they deserve.

10. Can I contact a couple of authors who you currently publish?

This is by far the best way to find out of a publisher is worth considering, and what they are like to work with. If the publisher refuses, beware.

There are more questions of course, depending on what you expect or would like from an independent publisher, so make sure you ask your questions, before making any commitments.