What a curious term ‘submitting’ is, to describe the collaborative project of author, agent and publisher, as they come together with a common aim of preparing a book for the delight of the reading public. But submission is the stage I am now at in my writing journey. 

In my previous books, published by Jessica Kingsley, there was no need for a go-between. With professional or academic works, like these were, an author makes a proposal to a publisher and then works with the editor allocated to them. The book is only written after the proposal has been accepted. I enjoyed my relationship with our editor Lisa Clark from beginning to end; I found her warm, supportive and responsive, and was delighted with the finished results. 

Now I’m seeking publication for a work of narrative non-fiction, my memoir / family history Stumbling stones: the Holocaust, my family and me

If I were writing fiction, I should complete the book to the best of my ability, taking it through several revisions following developmental and line edits and beta reading. Only then should I seek an agent, submitting a covering letter, synopsis and opening chapters. If an agent is interested, they will ask to see the full manuscript, and, one hopes, will offer to represent the book to publishers. I am advised that an author should always try to meet any prospective agent, to ensure that they both see the work in the same light; the first offer may not necessarily be the right ‘fit’.

For non-fiction, the process of securing publication from a reputable independent publisher lies somewhere between these two extremes. I am still advised to seek representation from an agent, but the agent will want to have a hand in shaping such a work. I am not to perfect the book so that we can finalise its form together, in the light of their expertise in what will be publishable. Each agent has slightly different submission procedures, but they generally want to see a proposal, the author’s credentials for writing the book, the areas of evidence and research, a synopsis sometimes broken down into chapters, recent comparable titles in the genre, and some sample text.

As I am new to this field, I am keen to learn how to get the process right – hence my willingness to get stuck in and ‘submit’.  Embarking on a fresh learning curve is always a stimulating place for me!

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