10 More Magazines That Pay Writers & Accept Submissions

Submitting to magazines can be a great career move for any writer—you can get paid for your work, build a publication history, and it’s just a great confidence boost to see your name in print. Earlier, we posted a list of 10 Australian magazines you can submit to for pay, and today we’re following up with 10 more.

Going Down Swinging

going down swinging

Since 1979, Going Down Swinging has been fostering a community of writers and artists around stories worth sharing. They host live events, publish print and audio anthologies, and regularly publish content both online and in their journal. Their recent issues have been published in app form, which has allowed them to be open to more experimental content, including animation, interactive text and short films.

Feminartsy

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Forms: Fiction, nonfiction, essays, poetry, photo essays, art spreads.
Frequency: Ongoing

An online feminist literature and arts journal, this publication has a bit of everything. From live events to fellowships to a podcast in the works, it’s been upping its game since it started in 2014. This publication was built purely on passion, and as such, the amount they pay their contributors may fluctuate—but they always pay something.

Australian Book Review

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Forms: Book reviews, poetry.
Frequency: Bimonthly

Australian Book Review is an independent nonprofit and a bimonthly magazine, and while they are selective, they are totally open to new reviewers. They pay every writer they publish—whether that’s in print or online—and they also publish poetry.

Peril

peril

Forms: Art works, prose, poetry, non-fiction, essays, blog posts.
Frequency: Ongoing

Peril publishes diverse art from diverse people, as long as it has a relationship with issues of Asian-Australian interest. They prioritise submissions from Asian-Australians and other diverse backgrounds, but they’re open to art from all people. This is an online publication which has been around for 10 years—and thanks to generous funding bodies, they pay all contributors.

Southerly

southerly

Forms: Essays, creative nonfiction, short stories, reviews, poetry.

This is one of Australia’s oldest literary journals, and it’s highly respected. Each issue has a theme, and submissions are open for several themes at a time. Southerly accepts many different types of submissions, which makes it a great suggestion for almost any kind of writer, but read a back issue or two to grasp the tone of the journal before submitting.

Tincture

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Forms: Poetry, short fiction, creative nonfiction.
Frequency: Quarterly.

If you like your journals a little less structured, take a look at this one. There is no thematic focus, and it’s published as an ebook rather than a physical magazine. This journal commits to publish a diverse range of voices, and pays everyone they publish.

Antic

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Forms: Nonfiction, fiction, poetry, reviews, criticism.
Frequency: TBC

It’s always lovely to see exciting, new publications, and Antic is one of these. Its first issue isn’t even out yet, but it’s a literary journal dedicated to supporting Australian (and international) writers. Keep an eye on this one.

Quadrant

quadrant

Forms: Articles, poetry, book reviews, short fiction.
Frequency: 10 times a year.

Ideas and debate are the heart of Quadrant, which is a publication based on essays, literature, poetry, and political and historical discussion. They’ve got both an online section and a print magazine, and both are full of intellectual and interesting content.

Peppermint

Peppermint

Forms: Nonfiction articles on fashion and lifestyle.
Frequency: Quarterly

Peppermint‘s tagline is ‘Style, sustainability, substance’. They’re eco friendly, and cover fashion, lifestyle and creativity. Many of their articles are commissioned, but they still readily accept submissions in the forms of pitches and complete articles.

Griffith Review

griffith review

Forms: Essays, memoir, reportage, short fiction, poetry, visual essays.
Frequency: Quarterly.

Published by Griffith University, Griffith Review prides itself on being the first publication for many successful writers, and encourages writers at all levels to submit. The journal itself likes to intelligently analyse current events, anticipate upcoming trends, and deliver insight into what matters most.

Scum Mag

scum mag

Forms: Fiction, poetry, column, culture, memoir, review, art.
Frequency: Ongoing

Feminist friendly and weird in the best way, Scum Mag publishes new writing several times a week. With alumni including Oliver Mol, Patrick Lenton, Krissy Kneen and Zoya Patel (founder of the aforementioned Feminartsy), this is a favourite of many in the writing industry.

How to Get the Most Out of a Writing Workshop

Writing workshops are the easiest place to find likeminded writers, to get catered feedback in the areas of writing you love, and to meet industry professionals. They’re a great opportunity to dig deeper in your craft, your career and your passion, and they’re almost always a great source of encouragement and joy.

As someone who works in an organisation that runs tons of these, I’ve been to a bunch. Perhaps I’ve been lucky, but I’ve had a specific take-away from each one, and I’ve always felt that they were worth the cost.

If you’d like to join a workshop but aren’t sure where to start, contact your state writers centre to see if they have any that you might be interested in. If you let them know what you love writing, they might even have some other opportunities to share with you as well.

Take Notes—But Not Too Many

Part of going to a workshop is being inundated with loads of information, and to get your money’s worth, you really do need to take notes that you can go over later. But there is the danger of taking too many notes, retreating into your laptop or notebook, and missing the things the tutor and the people around you are saying.

When you get into the workshop, take a look at any handouts you’re given. How detailed are they? If the tutor has a presentation, is what they’re saying on the presentation in the notes? How much of what the tutor is saying do you need to write down, and how much is common sense or anecdotal?

A strategy I like to use is writing short, snappy notes while the tutor is talking, and then spending 5 or 10 minutes on my break writing a short summary. That way I can be fully engaged with what the tutor is saying, and writing the summary helps me to retain the memories for longer.

Ask Questions & NETWORK WITH THE TUTOR

When going to a workshop, remember that the tutor is an industry professional, and they very well could give you the piece of information that takes your writing or your career to the next level. Of course, this won’t necessarily happen at every workshop, but it is a possibility as long as you’re generous, open and willing to seize the opportunity.

Writing workshops are a rare chance to dissect an industry professional’s brain, so you should! Ask questions and engage with the content. Don’t handicap yourself by being too afraid to ask questions or talk to the tutor. Workshop tutors teach because they love sharing their knowledge and resources with other writers.

Some questions, of course, might be more appropriate to ask the tutor during a break or shortly after the course. It’s never great for the other participants if one person takes up a workshop with personalised questions about their career. Don’t make it awkward for the tutor to leave, but feel free to give them some personal details about what you’re working on and ask for advice. You’ll get bonus points (and better advice) if it’s clear you’ve done some research beforehand.

Talk to Other Writers &  Share Your Work

You’re in a room bursting with other writers and creatives—talk to them! It is totally fine to ask for someone’s email address, or suggest that everyone in the group join an email list. People go to writing courses to meet people who love writing the same stuff that they do, so put yourself out there.

Sharing your work is always terrifying, but it’s the best way to get immediate feedback on your work. The tutor is likely to give you some encouragement or suggestion, and you’re way more likely to actually improve your skills if you’re willing to take that on. And the other people in the room likely have some great feedback for you too!

If you’re not sure how to find writing friends, this might be it. Remember that everyone else in the room is serious enough about their writing to pay to attend the course, and they’re probably writing in the same genre or style that you’re interested in. If you don’t quite find what you’re looking for, contact the organisation running the course to see if they know of any local writing groups that might suit you.

Set a Goal & Action it Within 24 Hours

Before you leave the workshop, set yourself a quantifiable goal to practice what you have learned. Make it measurable, realistic and tangible, and write down exactly what you want to do. You might have an idea of this goal going into the workshop, but the content of the workshop may influence what it ends up being.

Your mission is then to take the first step towards this goal within the next 24 hours. The motivation is always the strongest closest to the workshop, when the knowledge is still fresh. Workshops are some of the most encouraging things you can do as a writer, and the most empowering, but they’re not worth the money if you don’t use what you’ve learned to improve your skills and habits as a writer.

6 Myths About the Australian Publishing Industry

To the average writer, the publishing industry may as well be fairyland. It’s easy to imagine that publishers are faceless gatekeepers that only care about what sells. But that’s totally not true. Most of the time, publishers are truly passionate about writing and writers, and they’d love to give your manuscript a chance—as long as you approach them in the right way.

Because most writers don’t know a lot about the industry, it’s easy to believe things that aren’t necessarily true. Here are six myths that people commonly believe about the publishing industry that could actually damage your chances of getting published.

It’s impossible to get published without an agent.

In Australia, agents totally aren’t compulsory, and whether you get one is up to you. Many successful writers don’t have agents, or didn’t get them until later in their careers. Having an agent does have its benefits, but several of them (such as contract negotiation) can actually be done on a consulting basis for a set fee if the author does not find the right match or only plans to publish one book.

Agents are essentially career partners. When they take on a new writer, generally they have the view that it will be a long-term relationship. Other than pitching to publishers and negotiating contracts, agents will search for other money-making opportunities for the writer, such as speaking engagements, be a sounding board for the author when thinking strategically about their writing and their career, and some may even assist with the development of the manuscript.

That being said, it’s totally possible to get published without an agent, and even without hiring a consultant! Australia has several organisations that act as advocates for writers, which you can go to for support or for a contract assessment, and most of our publishing industry accepts unsolicited submissions. 

Breaking submission guidelines will make my manuscript stand out.

This is almost always a no! Publishers set their submission guidelines for a reason. Many receive hundreds of manuscripts a year, so if you’d like them to truly consider your work, it’s best to respect their requests. If you can’t take the time to double space your manuscript, why should they strain their eyes trying to read it?

The best writing shouldn’t have to rely on gimmicks, like scented paper (looking at you, Elle Woods) or strange fonts. If you’re confident in your writing, let it stand on its own merits. This will also show the publisher that you’re courteous, pay attention to detail, and have actually looked at their website, which can only be a good thing.

Another thing is to be careful that the publisher actually publishers manuscripts like yours. Sending a sci-fi manuscript to a literary fiction editor isn’t a good idea—if they don’t publish your genre, they don’t have expertise in publishing your genre. They may be missing important contacts, or be unfamiliar with tropes, or not understand the market you’re trying to reach. For your sake (and theirs), only submit your work to publishers who work in your genre.

Agents and publishers don’t read unsolicited submissions.

Again, wrong! As long as you submit within their guidelines (noting that some publishers only accept unsolicited submissions on certain dates), most publishers in Australia do read unsolicited submissions, and do encourage writers to submit. Penguin Random House actually has a monthly meeting where everyone in the organisation goes through the manuscripts in the slush pile. It can be a little bit harder to get published, but if your writing is truly great and it is right for the editor reading it, it will stand out.

Writing an excellent query letter and synopsis is essential here, as well as making sure that your manuscript is truly developed. If you’re unsure whether you’re ready to submit, contact your state writers centre to see if there are any development programs you can apply for or if you can get a manuscript assessment. Look at joining a writer’s group, or go to workshops. There are lots of ways of getting feedback on your writing, which will either show you what you need to work on, or give you the confidence to move forward.

Self-publishing is the easier option.

Self-publishing is a huge investment, and you should be really sure that it’s the right step for you before getting started. It is really like starting a small business, and there’s a lot of work involved. All the stuff that a publisher would normally do falls to you, including editing, designing, printing, distributing, marketing and selling. You need to be sure that you can do all of these things sufficiently, and that you won’t be losing money in the process.

Particularly important here is the distribution: you should have a plan of where your book will be sold and how it will get there before you invest any money. Especially when self-publishing a print book, this is the area where many authors struggle. Even Hugh Howey made a deal with a publisher for the print edition of his books. That’s not to say it isn’t possible – many independent bookstores stock local self-published authors, and some distributors may be willing to work with you.

But, before you spend any money, beware of vanity presses and publishing scams! Always be very sure of what you’re spending money on, and what you will receive in return. If you’re paying someone to do a service for you, such as editing your work or marketing your book, take a look at the projects they’ve worked on previously beforehand.

Agents and publishers are terrifying beasts that cannot be approached.

Publishers are more accessible than ever, and most love talking to writers—especially if they’re at a writing event, like a festival or workshop. Having the courage to chat to a publishing professional at an event could get you a business card, some sage advice, or the chance to submit.

They’re just people who love books. Nowadays, it’s ridiculously easy to connect with publishers. Between Twitter, easily guessable email addresses, writing events and conferences, it’s easy to reach out to professionals from all over the industry.

As always, it’s important to be professional and polite. Make sure to respect their time. If they’re on the phone or eating their lunch, it’s probably better to wait. Don’t demand they read your manuscript or tell them that you’re the next J. K. Rowling. Perfect your elevator pitch, chat to them about their work and the kinds of things they publish, and ask them any questions you have about the publishing industry.

If an editor doesn’t publish my work, that means that it wasn’t good enough.

There are many reasons that writing gets rejected, even good writing. Editors don’t usually get the final say on what they publish—often they have to pitch the manuscript to representatives from every department in the publisher. They have to convince their colleagues that each manuscript is the most viable for the current market, and that’s not always possible.

Keep in mind that publishers aren’t gods of taste. Every publisher has passed on something fantastic, whether it be because they weren’t in the right mood when they read it, there wasn’t room in their list, they weren’t sure how to sell it, or it just wasn’t right for them. And many bestselling writers weren’t accepted at the first place they submitted to.

Don’t take rejection personally. Do take a step back to look at your manuscript with fresh eyes, and do what you can to get feedback on your writing to make sure it is the best it can be, but don’t let it fester. Often the best thing to do is just to send it out again to someone new.

5 Books to Make You a Better Writer: Lyrical Prose

There’s nothing quite like the atmosphere of a truly lyrical book. When an author delights in words, relishing them and writing beautiful sentences, readers notice. Lyrical prose has the power to be truly visceral and evoke emotions in the reader in a totally different way to many other styles of writing. Even if this isn’t quite what you want to do for your project, it’s worth taking a look to see how this kind of writing affects its readership.

Reading is the most important thing writers can do; it is truly the closest thing to an apprenticeship we have. By deconstructing books that work, we can figure out at least some of the magic that the brilliant authors have used when concocting their stories. This is the second in a series of posts which will include recommendations for books that excel at different aspects of the craft. To view all the posts in this series, click here.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

daughterofsmokeandbone

This is a tale of a girl raised by monsters, half in another world, and half in Prague. From the outset, the writing is the first thing the reader notices; the author manages to intertwine laugh-until-you-cry moments with cry-until-you-laugh moments through her lovely prose. It’s almost impossible not to fall in love with this book and its world.

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

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Wintergirls is different from the other books on this list, because it is very real. This is about a girl with an eating disorder, told in the first person, and though the writing is beautiful, it is very dark. The narrator wraps the reader up in her compulsive thoughts and self-doubt so convincingly, that it is very easy to understand how the sickness took hold of her in the first place.

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

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Don’t be frightened of this book because of its literary stature; it is full of beautiful prose and interesting writing. Woolf totally revolutionised the way character was written. In this book, every time a new person is seen, even if just for a moment on the side of the road, they get 300 words about them and their worldview and their day. Though there isn’t a heavy plot, it’s hard not to be captivated by Woolf’s masterful writing.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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It would be remiss not to mention this beautiful tale. Here, Death is our narrator, and he sees the world in such whimsical sadness, and it is through his honest but poetic descriptions that the reader finds themselves truly gutted. What would this book be, if the prose were sparse and blunt? It would certainly have a very different kind of impact.

The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan

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Imagine a world where there is far more sea than land, and humanity is separated between those that live on land and those who dwell in the sea. We follow a travelling circus boat and a girl who lives alone on an island, performing funerals as penance for a crime. This book is literary, mystical and all-consuming, without ever overdosing on adjectives.

Honorary Mentions

  1. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton, for being filled to the brim with rhythm, whimsy and beauty. It’s hard to beat the atmosphere of this strange little book.
  2. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, for intertwining a dark and mystical world with interesting writing.
  3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, for bringing both the ’20s and a sense of neverending longing to life.
  4. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, for being the quintessential circus novel, and a prime example of wonderful word-wrangling.

 

How to Write an Author Bio (Even Without Experience)

One of the most fearsome things about getting published is the dreaded author bio. Even established authors with hundreds of stories and articles published struggle to get it right, so how can the rest of us mere mortals even try? Especially if we don’t even have a publication record?

Relax, friends! There’s an art to writing the perfect author bio, and if you can pull it off, no one will dare question your writerly authority.

Remember, if your author bio is being read, it’s likely that someone else has endorsed you. An editor has decided that your writing is perfect for their publication or website, or even if it’s on your own blog, it’s likely that someone has shared it. You don’t need to prove to anyone that you can write; you’ve already gotten at least one tick of approval.

What Do You Write?

First things first: your bio should make it absolutely clear what kind of writer you are. What topics or genres take your fancy? Do you write fiction or nonfiction? Longform or short? Is your ethnicity or culture important to your work? Are you a freelance writer, or do you only write what you want to, when you want to?

Often, when planning festivals and events, or sourcing people to write articles, planners rely on writer’s bios to tell them what they are. You don’t need to answer these questions one-by-one, but make it absolutely clear to anyone who has never heard of you exactly what kind of writer you are.

Where Are You From?

If you want opportunities to come to you—especially the speaking-at-events kind—it’s very important that you say upfront where you are located. As someone who has worked in arts programming, it can be a little frustrating not to be able to figure out where a writer lives (and even if they’re still in the country!). Make it as easy as possible for people to think of you for stuff.

You might think that you’re not experienced enough for these kinds of opportunities, but you never know. Often, a young or fresh voice can be great on a panel, or you could be in a particular niche where appropriate writers are hard to find.

Any Particular Achievements (Or Experiences)?

Mention any writing achievements, such as being featured in a publication, placing in an award, doing an internship or receiving a fellowship, straight up in your bio. If you can, include at least one specific, tangible achievement that people can be impressed by.

Be creative! If you don’t have a tangible achievement just yet (or this bio is for your first one), look to see if there’s anything relevant in your life, either to the writing piece itself, or to writing in general. For example, if you’re publishing a food article, you can mention the time you won a pie-eating contest, or how you grew up in a household made of chefs.

Another approach is to take a look at the audience of where your bio will be displayed, and try to relate to them somehow. If you’re writing to an audience who loves painting, mention how you’ve been fingerpainting since you were three, or if it’s a publication about your local town, talk about long you’ve lived there or your experience with a local landmark.

Read Other Bios

Take a look at the other bios being published in the same place yours are. Pick up a copy of the publication, or take a look at the website, and spend some time reading them to pick up any common themes or styles. Odds are, if you’re being published there, there will be other writers at a similar stage.

Also take a look at the bios in similar publications, on blogs, at the Emerging Writers Festival, and anywhere else where writers at a similar stage to you might be posting. This will also expose you to different structures and different types of bios.

This will help you to play with the structure of your bio. Copy a few other people’s, and play around until you find a fit that’s right for you. It’s also a good way to figure out how to adapt your bio so it’s appropriate for different audiences: chances are, you’re going to use it in places with totally different styles and audiences.

What’s Your Voice?

The author brand is an intimidating term, but really it’s quite simple. What kind of person do you want people to think you are? What kind of voice do you like writing in? Why should they read your stories?

Think about what people come to your writing for. Are you funny, do you make them think, or do you create wonderful worlds for them to escape to? Is your prose lyrical or sparse or something else entirely? Are you calm and professional, quirky and funny, or dreamy and full of wonderment?

Try to use this same voice in your bio—remember that your bio is an introduction to you, and if you can use your own voice while also matching the style of the publication, you’ve really succeeded.

 

Create a Writing Calendar Using Trello

Whether you’re writing short stories, a blog, a novel, articles, or anything in between, the key to writing regularly is to be organised. It can be difficult to keep track of all the opportunities you want to apply for, the magazines you want to pitch to, and any other writing assignments you have for yourself. Building a clear idea of what you want to write can really make the difference between dreaming about writing and your writing carrying you to your dreams.

This guide will show you how to find opportunities, put them on a calendar, and then write towards your goals. First, of course, it’s important to do some introspection, set your writing goals and build a habit of writing every day. I use a combination of Trello and Google Calendar for this, but you’re welcome to use any tools you’d like.

Set Your Own Writing Goals

Set a timer for 5-10 minutes, and jot down everything you want to write. Whether you want to work through the exercises in a creative writing book, you have assignments or blog posts to work on, short story or flash fiction styles you want to try, novel ideas you want to try out, or anything else you can think of. Have fun with this; the only person who is going to see any of your writing is you!

Take the time to assess how much you can write every day. How much time will you devote to writing? What time of day will you do it? How much do you usually write in that time? If you’re not sure, that’s totally fine—you’ll figure it out as you move along, but don’t be harsh with yourself if you’re a bit slower than you’d hoped.

Finding Opportunities

Regardless of your niche, there are so many writing support tools and competitions and journals and opportunities out there, just waiting for you to apply for them. I had no idea how much stuff was out there until I started looking for it.

Websites like Aerogramme Writers’ Studio, Australian Writers’ Resource, the Australian Writer’s Marketplace, Writer’s Edit and each state writers centre’s email newsletters are great sources of upcoming competitions and opportunities. Subscribe to as many free email newsletters as you can, and make a habit of going through all the opportunities once a week.

Most magazines and journals love getting submissions, and once you know your niche, it’s really easy to find magazines to submit to. Writing for publications is a great way to build your writing career, make connections, and even make a little bit of money on the side.

Use Twitter strategically! Follow (or create a list) all of the state writers centres, magazines and journals, and other major Australian writing organisations, as well as the movers and shakers in your niche. It’s very likely you’ll find a whole abundance of writing opportunities through these feeds.

The Writing Calendar

Once you’ve got a whole selection of writing goals and ideas in one place, and you know how much time you can devote to writing, it’s time to put your calendar together! I like using Trello for this, because I can have one masterlist with all of my ideas, and then another list for each week, and drag and drop the card for each individual writing task to where it fits best. Then, once I’ve got my calendar sorted, I move over to Google Calendar and pop each one.

Be careful to make sure you have variety in your week. It’s too easy to spend every day writing pitches to magazines, or to constantly get distracted by short stories and never work on the bigger projects you’re hoping to conquer. Also, make sure to give yourself a wild card day every once in awhile, where you can choose to write whatever you want to at the time.

If you’re using Trello, it’s also good to have a list at the very left with your other miscellaneous, writing-related to dos. Things like ‘follow up on magazine submission’, or ‘reformat old blog posts’ are really easy to forget about, and having them right there with all of your other plans will help you to make sure that all of those little things get done.

How to Spot Vanity Presses and Publishing Scams

Almost every writer wants to see their work in print. You’d be hard-pressed to find a writer that doesn’t want the kind of recognition (or gloating) that comes with the phrase ‘I’ve had a book published’. But there are many so-called publishers that prey on that dream, and unfortunately, they make a lot of money.

But that doesn’t mean we should lock our work up and never submit it, nor does it mean that we shouldn’t self-publish it. It’s about looking at each opportunity individually, and carefully following a few simple steps to reduce the risk as much as possible.

Be Careful If There’s Money Involved

In a traditional publishing relationship, money should always flow to the author. If you pay someone to publish your book, they have no incentive to sell it.

There are many horror stories online of people paying thousands of dollars to a publisher, only to receive 20 copies of their book with additional typos and misprinted illustrations. If you are giving money to a publisher, make sure you get in writing exactly what you will be receiving for your money, and how they will be providing it. For example, if they are including an edit, does the editor have a high profile in the industry? What other projects have they worked on? What makes this edit worth your money?

If you are self-publishing a book, or you’re knowingly going into a partner-publishing relationship, then yes, you will likely be handing some money over. (Though, it should be noted that it is totally possible to self-publish a print book without breaking the bank.) But if the publisher claims to be a traditional publisher, they should not be taking any money from you. If a publisher asks for a ‘reading fee’ or an ‘assessment fee’, this is a warning sign.

Quality Control

Can you find a copy of another book the publisher has produced? Is it available in physical and/or online bookstores, and can you find an ebook version? If you can’t find any books by that publisher, think about whether that publisher is really going to sell your book well. Take a look at the publisher’s social media presence. Do they have an active, loyal following?

Invest in a copy of the book in each format; is the quality of the product at a level that excites you? Are the words well edited, is the book well-produced, is the paper of a nice quality? Think about all of the things that are important to you in the design of your book, and check your sample book for those.

Get in touch with another writer or organisation who has worked with the publisher before. How was their experience with them? Would they recommend them? This is also a good time to do some quick googling to see if you can find any online reviews or stories about working with the publisher, and stalk their employees on Twitter and LinkedIn. A little sleuthing now could save you a lot of stress in the future.

The Legal Stuff

Before signing anything, make sure you read through your contract carefully, and that you understand it. If something is not in the contract, don’t assume it will happen; the contract is the only thing binding the publisher to do what they have told you they will. What you’re signing is what you’re going to get, and you could end up being legally bound to dangerous or shifty clauses.

This is by no means legal advice, and for different writers there will be different priorities. Some writers might want a big advance, but other writers might prefer the publisher pick up several books at once. Other writers might focus on the royalty rate or the reversion clause or the adaptation rights. It’s important to consider your plans for the book and what your needs are.

If you’re unsure about doing it yourself, and you don’t have a literary agent, there are contract review services offered by Australian Society of Authors, Arts Law and Alex Adsett Publishing Services, and if they’re going to advise you not to sign a contract, both the Australian Society of Authors and Alex Adsett Publishing Services will not charge you unless you want to move forward. Alex Adsett Publishing Services also negotiates contracts on an hourly rate.

Some Important Clauses To Check

Again, this is not legal advice. These are just a few areas that you should make sure you understand before signing a book with any publisher.

  • Royalty clauses: How much will you be paid, and when? Are there different rates for different forms of the book (e.g. ebook vs print book)? If the book is remaindered, will the rates go down again?
  • Advance: Will you be paid an advance? How much will you be paid? Note that smaller publishers may not offer an advance, and if you do receive one, it is the norm that you won’t receive royalties until you have ‘earned it back’.
  • Reversion: Will the rights to the book be reverted back to you if the book is not selling? Note that some publishing contracts may say that the rights revert if the book is no longer available, but with digital publishing, it is very easy to make a book always available.
  • Indemnity: Many publishers (including reputable ones) state if the book breaks any laws (e.g. copyright, defamation, etc.), that the liability stays with the author.
  • Multimedia and Language Rights: Who retains the rights to adaptations and translations? Who is in a better position to use or sell these? If you have a well-connected literary agent, they may prefer to hold onto these rights.

Pre-Publishing Checklist

  1. Are you handing the publisher any money? If yes, do you have written terms on exactly what you will receive for that money? Have you received quotes from other publishers, or opinions from industry professionals on whether that is a reasonable rate?
  2. Have you found any other works the publisher has produced in bookstores (if they are promising this)? Are they well-marketed online (and if so, is it from the author or the publisher), and does the publisher have much of an online following?
  3. Get your hands on another book the publisher has produced. If you want illustrations or pictures in your work, try to select a book with similar content. Is it well designed? Are there typos? Do you feel the work is well edited? Is the paper of a decent quality?
  4. Contact another author who has been published through them. Google the publisher’s name alongside words such as ‘experience’, ‘warning’ and ‘review’, search on Twitter for their authors and reach out to people to ask for honest feedback. Feel free to contact your state writers centre or the Australian Society of Authors if you’re unsure.
  5. Consider getting a contract assessment. The Australian Society of Authors, Arts Law and Alex Adsett Publishing Services all offer contract assessments, in which they will go over the contract and advise you on whether it is fair and if there are any warning signs. The Australian Society of Authors and Alex Adsett Publishing Services both offer your money back if they feel the contract is a scam.