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Getting published: novels
Getting a novel out there takes a lot of skill, luck and perseverance. Here are a few tips to help you along the way.
Is my novel ready to submit?
Publishers and agents want to be able to consider a completed novel so don’t approach any until you have finished the story and polished the writing.
Do I need an agent?
Most (but not all) publishers will only accept novel submissions from agents. You can normally find out whether publishers accept unsolicited submissions via their websites or their listings on sites like Writers & Artists(this will open in a new window). Found one that accepts submissions directly? Our advice for submitting to publishers might help.
How do I get an agent?
There’s no magic answer here, but there are some things you can do to increase your chances. Check out our tips for submitting to an agent.
How long should a novel be?
Working out how long a novel should be is really based on the story. That said, if you’re a debut novelist, many publishers prefer a conservative wordcount of around 90,000.
How can I improve my chances of getting a novel published?
Writing the best possible book you can is the most important thing, but you may improve your chances by:
- Learning more about your craft. Attend workshops, check out part-time courses, join (or set up) a local writers’ group or spend some time reading writing advice books.
- Build a publishing portfolio. Send your writing off to suitable online and print journals to try and build up a track record. Just be sure to research the kind of writing they’re looking for before you hit send.
- Enter awards and prizes. Winning an award or development opportunity can be a big draw for a publisher. Do approach prizes cautiously, though. Pay attention to how prestigious they appear and whether they charge a fee or not. Are you eligible for any of our writing programmes?
Who else can help?
Here are a few organisations that may be useful:
Society of Authors(this will open in a new window)
Writers' Services(this will open in a new window)
NAWE: The Writer’s Compass(this will open in a new window)
ScottishPEN(this will open in a new window)
Edinburgh City of Literature(this will open in a new window)
Publishing Scotland(this will open in a new window)
Creative Scotland(this will open in a new window)