My Publishing Experience

This is a very odd post for me it is personal! (beyond the personal side of ‘Favourite’s’ and ‘preferences’ this is a real-life blogpost)

I just want to say in advance: I am not a publishing expert. I have never worked in publishing or know the ins-and-outs of publishing but this was my experience as a writer and I thought I would share it.

SoI write novels. Not as a day job (unfortunately) but I do write novels. I wrote my first one when I was 14 and I wrote my second when I was 16 and I am now writing my 3rd at the age of 19.

My 2nd novel was based on the life of my Great-Grandfather in the First World War. As you many long-time readers will know I am a history student and incredibly intrigued by the First World War, so upon hearing a family story about a soldier in the War I had to write it down using fiction to fill the gaps think Phillippa Gregory filling in gaps and adding conversations for the Plantagenet’s in the Cousins War seriesetc.

 Now what has this to do with publishing.well a few months my book was accepted for publication by a small publishing press called Pegasus.

And I turned the offer down.

I didn’t turn it down because the book wasn’t ready, I have been editing it for 3 years now, and I didn’t turn it down because I thought I could do better as a debut writer I am hard-pressed to even find publishers to take a look at my work.

No, I turned the offer down because they asked for money.

Tip 1. Know that there are more than one publishing contracts out there! And know that it is ok to ask publishing houses what type of contracts they work in before submitting work. (It shows interest as well as caution)

There are two main contracts within the publishing world, which I know of, one is an all-rounder publishing deal with the author gaining 5% royalties upon the book’s publication, which takes at least a year. Often the author will get a small advance anything from £100 to £2000.

The other type of contract is a Vanity Contract. When the publishing house requests that you pay them a fee to print and advertise the book in return for higher royalties for the author once the book is published. This offer came to me with a request for £2750.

Now, a vanity contract is not illegal and neither is it a scam. It is real. But it is ridiculous in my eyes particularly when the publishing house in question did not once suggest such a contract was what they worked with on their website, email or submission guidelines. Had they have said in advance I would have looked elsewhere.

This experience of getting a positive response and the interaction between publishing house and budding author is terribly exciting and nerve-wracking I received an email requesting the full manuscript and I had 5 days to polish it completely up to scratch not to mention the 6 week wait hoping that they liked the full-thing and it wasn’t just an email glitch!

It was an experience I am grateful for as it gave me the opportunity to experience the publishing world and to also read my novel over a matter of days rather than a matter of weeks Tip 2. Always read your manuscript wholly over a few days you will see the plot holes more deeply (and they’ll always be one! When the chapter ends too soon or the characters talk for too long)

But it was also disappointing. However, at the end of the day:

-      I lose no money even if I had paid the fee and had the book published it was unlikely, as a debut author, I would receive £2750 back in royalties without a strong marketing campaign on my behalf! (No company that deals in Vanity deals can cope with a marketing campaign as well!)

-      I got to read my work with a precise eye for detail

-      I got feedback upon my work

And most importantly:

-      I know that my book is something publishable. It peaked someone’s interest and it interested them enough to want to publish it.

I am in no doubt about the wait to get work published it takes years to get right so it can take years to get perfect but there really is no time-limit: I know of authors who were published aged 13 and I know of other’s published aged 90. It is a truly expiry-free process and one I look forward to getting into in the future.

For nowI think I am going to revise some plot-holes, finish university, live a little in the real-world, rather than the fictional world, and possibly wait and make contacts in the publishing world before rushing my work through as an inexperienced 19 year old.

At the end of the dayI write because I enjoy it. That should never change, even when trying to publish a book!

Happy Reading!


1 comment

  1. Ellie, have you considered self-publishing your book yourself? Amazon, and B&N, as well as other online distributors have programs that allow you to do so, thus cutting out the middle man the publisher and allowing you to get your book out there to the readers. I've been published since 2005 and I've published with publishers and self-published. I prefer a combination of working with publishers and self-publishing. I've learned to do everything myself from cover art, to formatting my book for different venues to marketing my books. It's not that difficult to do and self-publishing allows you to keep most of your royalties instead of giving a majority to a publisher. Just a thought, feel free to contact me if you'd like to know more. My e-mail is