A blog from Tonto Books, featuring musings from the publishing world and some occasional special guest appearances.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


I interviewed Ed from Byker Books a while back now. Been pretending to be too busy to put part two up, so here it is...

Stu: What makes a good submission?
Ed: Anything that follows the above! (or below in order of blog posts)

S: What tips would you give to writers approaching publishers?
1. Stick to the submission guidelines.
2. Spend as much time on your synopsis and query letter as you do on your book/story
3. Try to remember that we don’t just sit there all day waiting for you to call/pop up in our inbox – we’re actually fairly busy.
4. Be polite and courteous – not everyone is and that’s just silly.
5. If you get rejected don’t tell the publisher that you don’t care as they’re shit anyway because that will simply make the publisher put a little black mark against your name and then tell all of his publisher friends about you which will result in you spending the rest of your writing life in rejection hell.
6. Don’t submit something then wait until the publisher has done all the work on the book it’s going to be in before deciding that you’d actually like to ‘edit’ it – see point 5 for the result of that action!
7. Make sure your work is a polished, tight and error free. There is nothing worse than reading a submission that looks good but is littered with spelling and grammatical errors – it will be rejected no matter how good the story is.
8. Don’t give up – you will get rejected ... a lot. Everyone does but it’s those who persevere that succeed.

No, this isn't me ranting. I assure you it is Ed. Honest.

S: Are agents essential?
E: I don’t think they’re essential, not at first anyway, however, a good agent will take a lot of the nitty gritty stuff away from you and and allow you to concentrate on the writing side of things. They’ll also know what certain publishers are looking for and steer your style/content towards that, thus enhancing your chances of selling your book. The thing about them though is that it’s a very transient profession so if you get on the books of an agency somewhere for any length of time (and that’s not easy in itself never mind getting published!) you might find that you have a number of different agents over the years and it’s not necessarily your career that’s uppermost in their minds.

S: What are the best traits of a writer?
E:Passion, the ability to tell a story (that’s sounds a bit obvious but trust me it’s not a given) and downright, barefaced cheek! As a writer you have to be shameless in promoting yourself, asking for things and pro-actively selling your books.

S: And worst?
E: They can sometimes think that what they’ve written is the best thing ever and it’s the rest of the world that’s at fault for not seeing it - I’m a writer myself and I know I’ve been guilty of that in the past. They can also tend to forget that publishing is a business first and foremost – even a gobshite little press like Byker Books has to have on eye on actually selling what it produces – so we have to gently remind them sometimes that what they write has to be accessible to the readership.

More splendid replies from Ed. I'll be posting the third installment very soon.
This blog will be moving to a different home very soon. I'll post details up as soon as it all happens.

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