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Frequently Asked Questions


About Publishing

What is publishing?

“To prepare and issue (printed material) for public distribution or sale,” according to FreeDictionary. There are some 20,000 publishers in the UK, publishing some 115,000 titles annually, with a collective turnover of £2.8bn.

Should I submit a manuscript to a publisher?

You can try but almost all will reject it. Nowadays publishers prefer to accept manuscripts from agents who effectively do a lot of the initial filtering for them. For a list of agents and publishers get the Writers and Artists’ Yearbook.

Can someone give me advice about my book?

A number of agencies give objective editorial assessments of a manuscript, notably The Literary Consultancy and The Writers’ Workshop

I’ve been offered a contract by a publisher, what should I do?

Get professional advice. Start with the Society of Authors.

How can I get my manuscript edited?

Contact the Society for Editors and Proofreaders to find a freelance editor suitable to your subject matter.

How can I get my manuscript proof read?

Again start with the Society for Editors and Proofreaders to find a freelance editor suitable to your requirements.

How can I get a good cover for my manuscript?

You need a freelance book designer. Start with the relevant pages of the Writers and Artists’ Yearbook.

What is an ISBN?

An International Standard Book Number. Every book published anywhere in the world has a unique ISBN which is used by all computerised ordering, stocking, warehousing and delivery systems. The UK ISBN agency is run by Nielsen. An ISBN is susprisingly easy and cheap to buy, working out at around £10 per book.

How can I get my book printed?

Find local printers through the Yellow Pages etc, or contact the British Association for Print and Communication.

What is Copyright Registration?

A publisher is required by law to send one copy of each new book to The British Library, Boston Spa, Wetherby, West Yorkshire LS23 7BY tel. 01937-546268, Email: One copy should also be sent to each of the other five legal deposit libraries: The Bodleian Library, Oxford, The University Library, Cambridge, The National Library of Scotland, The Library of Trinity College, Dublin, The National Library of Wales. You can do this in one package by sending five copies with a covering letter to Copyright Libraries Agency, 100 Euston Rd, London NW1 2HQ, tel 020-7388-5061.

What is Bibliographic Registration?

Booksellers know which books are available by using bibliographic databases run by Whitakers, Book Data, and Bibliographic Data Services Limited (BDS). These companies supply data to the high street and online bookshops so you need to register with the databases to ensure your book appears on bookshop computer

What is Sales and Customer Invoicing?

Same as for any business. If you are self-publishing you will have to handle your own sales and invoicing arrangements with booksellers including online booksellers.

What is Distribution and Warehousing?

Some publishers charge authors a fee for warehousing and distributing their books.

What are Publicity & Marketing?

Publicity and PR is aimed at the journalist, the person who can get your book reviewed, written about, noticed, in local and national press, radio and TV.

Marketing is advertising aimed at the consumer - via a range of strategies, through conventional adverts, leaflets, posters, displays in bookshops, and so on.


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