How To Prepare Your Manuscript For Small Aussie Publishers

To broaden the scope of our last article, How to Prepare Your Manuscript For Big Aussie Publishers, we’ve decided to explore some of Australia’s top Independent Publishing houses, that offer some fantastic opportunities for new and emerging writers.

Independent Publishing can take on more names than just ‘Independent’, you may also be familiar with the terms ‘Small Press’, or ‘Indie Press’, which are all basically the same thing. Independent Publishers shouldn’t be confused with self-publishing, because like Australia’s larger publishers, smaller publishers also have strong teams of editorial staff that guide writers through the journey of accepting a manuscript, to bringing your work to life for consumers. The main difference between large and small publishers is that smaller ones have smaller print runs and may not have the ability to take on as many writers.

Manuscript Submissions - Small Australian Publishers
April gives some valuable tips on how to submit to small Aussie publishers. Image credit: Kaboompics via StockSnap creative commons.

That said, Independent Publishers are often a better choice for writers just starting out. They can be less confronting and their services are often more personal making writers more than just commodities or assets.

Although, the best piece of advice we can give aspiring authors is to not give up. The Director and Chief of Submissions at Pantera Press, seconds this,

“Virtually every best-selling author was rejected by every publisher they contacted except the one where they found their eventual home.”

This was certainly the case for many household names, including J.K Rowling who was rejected by the first literary agent she sent Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone to. She told The Guardian in an interview;

“The first agent I ever queried sent back a slip saying ‘My list is full. The folder you sent wouldn’t fit in the envelope.” Rowling replied, “I really minded about the folder, because I had almost no money and had to buy another one.”

Once finding her agent, Christopher Little, the manuscript went on to get rejected 12 times before Bloomsbury finally picked it up.

You can find out more about Independent Publishers in Australia on The Small Press Network’s website.

General factors to consider when choosing an independent Australian Publisher:

  • Do they accept unsolicited manuscripts?
  • Does your writing fit into their publishing model? For example if they publish educational content, you probably shouldn’t send them a romance.
  • Have you formatted your manuscript in the way they requested?
  • Is your manuscript complete, edited, and proof read?

The number one thing to do before submitting your manuscript to any publisher, large or small, you need to be certain your writing is your best work. It’s very rare for a publisher to offer resubmissions of re-edited manuscripts that have been previously rejected, so make sure you put in the hard work before you submit.

 Further reading:

Literary Agents

Some writers choose to seek help from a literary agent to help them do some of the hard work when it comes to finding a publisher. This can be beneficial in the sense they can provide manuscript assessments and they have crucial contacts in the industry that can help your manuscript find the right home. They’re not for everyone, but it’s certainly worth looking in to. The Australian Literary Agents’ Association can be helpful in providing you with the information you need should you choose to submit to an agent.

Basic formatting guidelines: 

The basic formatting standards for Independent Publishing houses are similar to the ones for larger publishers. These will vary from publisher, to publisher but the general standards are as follows:

Title page should contain: title of book, author name (and pen name if applicable), and author’s contact details including email, phone, and address.

  • Start each new chapter on its own page.
  • Indent for each new paragraph.
  • Double-space the entire text.
  • Use a standard font, 12-point type. Times New Roman.
  • Prepare a 300-word synopsis of your book.
  • Prepare a 50-word author bio, including any previous publication history in 3rd person.

Text Publishing

Text Publishing is a Melbourne based Independent Publisher that publishes both literary fiction and non-fiction. They aim to help writers in writing the best books they possibly can and providing quality products to their readers. Some of their wider known titles include The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion as well as titles by Kate Grenville and Helen Garner.

And the good news is, they do welcome unsolicited manuscripts.

Types of work they publish:

  • Fiction
  • Non-fiction
  • Upper primary fiction
  • Young adult fiction

Unfortunately they’re not currently accepting poetry or play scripts.

You can find a comprehensive list of their books on their website.

What you need to do:

Unlike some of Australia’s larger suppliers Text Publishing accept manuscripts at any time, but they do receive large volumes of writing so it may take up to three months for them to assess your work. They will advise you by email, but once again, because of the volume of work they receive they don’t provide feedback if they choose not to accept your work.

  •  Send your work in hard copy, single sides, double-spaced and with the pages numbered.
  • They ask that you only send the first three chapters to begin with, with a brief one-page synopsis of your work. If you’re unsure how to prepare a synopsis Writers Digest have a great article on everything you should and shouldn’t do when preparing your novels synopsis.
  • Include all your contact details, including name, address, and phone number on a cover page.

Once they’ve assessed your manuscript they will contact you directly if they’re interested in pursuing your work. Refreshingly, if your work is not accepted, you’ll be notified by email.

All manuscripts should be posted to:

Manuscript Submissions
Text Publishing
Swann House
22 William St
Melbourne, Victoria, 3000

Scribe Publications

Scribe Publications is a little different to your standard Independent Publishing houses. They class themselves as a Trade Publisher, which basically means they publish books for the general public that are made available through the book trade. For example book retailers, and online e-book sellers like Amazon.

If you’re looking to submit your work to Scribe they accept submissions through literary agents, or proposals from writers that have a background in the industry. This sounds a lot more complicated than what it is. Basically, if you wish to submit fiction they will accept an unsolicited submission if you have a proven background in publishing for audiences. This could be work published in literary journals, or any writing awards you’ve received.

Likewise, if you’re looking at submitting non-fiction you’re required to have a background writing non-fiction. This could be articles published in newspapers or journalistic outlets.

Types of work they publish:

  • General fiction
  • Non-fiction
  • This includes:
  • History
  • Current Affairs
  • Humour
  • Young adult

A detailed list of their titles can be found on their website.

What you need to do:

If you believe your work is suitable for them, they ask that you email a query to [email protected] with the following details:

  • A synopsis of up to 3 paragraphs introducing your manuscript.
  • A notation on word length and if you’re yet to complete the manuscript they request you include an estimated date on when it will be completed.
  • A sample of your writing, up to the first 5,000 words so they can see your writing style and capabilities.
  • Lastly, they request you include a resume detailing your experience as a writer. In this you can note any published work, or qualifications.

Like Text Publishing, Scribe will take up to three months to assess your manuscript and if they like what they see they will contact you directly with a request to send more.

Inkerman & Blunt

Inkerman & Blunt is a younger publishing house. Based in Melbourne, they’re a small team that specialise in engaging new forms of publishing. They seek to expand Australia’s thriving literary culture.

Sadly the don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts, but they do allow writers to send brief pitches about their novels for their consideration. Rather than looking at this as a limitation, take it as an opportunity to really sell your writing.

Types of work they publish:

  •  Anthologies
  • Fiction
  • Poetry
  • Short Stories
  • Non-fiction

You can browse through their publications on their book page

What you need to do:

They’re guidelines are brief, all they ask is that you send a pitch or query of 500 words via email for their consideration. As writers, it may be difficult trying to keep a pitch for an entire novel to only 500 words but it’s essential you follow this word count.

A good pitch should include a summary of your work, intended audience, and word count, along with anything other essential pieces of information. You can send your pitch via the contact page on their website 

Finding a Publisher:

The Australian Writer’s Marketplace is a fantastic source for writer’s searching for their perfect Publisher. The site includes a comprehensive list of Australian Publishing houses, what types of work they publish, whether they accept unsolicited manuscripts, and the best way to get in contact with relevant houses.

Further resources:

Writing and publishing a book is always a difficult, dragged out task. It takes a patient person to take the time to create something from nothing. This is our greatest strength as writers, pulling an idea from the depths of our imaginations and creating an entirely new world from it. Having your work noticed and realised in print is the highest compliment. But if at first we don’t succeed, try again. Nothing good ever comes from giving up. Independent Australian publishers offer alternative means of publishing your work, and can realise the true value of a writers work.

April Davis

April Davis is a young Melbourne-based student and writer. She's finishing off a degree in professional writing and publishing and is an aspiring novelist flirting with the idea of historical fiction. She spends most of her time reading, writing and contributing book reviews to online publications.

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