Resources for Authors
There is a vast wealth of information currently available about writing fiction and we do not wish to add to this. However, it still surprises us that writers will spend a huge amount of time on their manuscript without due consideration for the final presentation to potential publishers. We always recommend that writers have their work reviewed by others - those that have the ability to provide the writer with some constructive criticism before they approach a publisher. We have decided to provide you with a few simple tips that may be of use. If you are reading this you are no doubt nearing completion of your masterpiece. With this in mind, the following may help with the next stage – marketing it to a potential publisher.
Write a book you'd like to read. If you wouldn't read it, why would anybody else? Don't write for a perceived audience or market. It may well have vanished by the time your book's ready.
A Snappy Synopsis
Whilst a synopsis can be written at any stage during the development of your book, it’s imperative that it is reviewed again once your book has been completed. After all, it will most likely form part of what’s known as your book’s ‘elevator pitch’, critical for that initial sell. The idea here is that you can deliver a snappy summary of your book in the time span of an elevator ride. Nobody said it would be easy!
The plot in your fiction story will generally have the main five key elements (Character, Situation, Goal, Conflict and Disaster) with a strong narrative arc. We can strategically use these elements to create an effective condensed summary or synopsis. By extracting these basic essential elements you can begin to construct a compressed outline, the main characters, plot and the twists. It might also be helpful to divide your plot into scenes and then condense it down addressing the narrative arc – the beginning, middle and the end. The synopsis can sometimes expose weakness in your narrative particularly if you find yourself writing a fifteen page synopsis. The trick here is to keep away from the detail and introduce only the main character(s) their motivation, conflict and goals. The synopsis should also include the resolution, in other words no stone should be left unturned. The Cillian Team have promised to read your synopsis after they’ve read your manuscript – so it’s okay to place the spoilers in. Lastly, for continuity, it should also be written in the same style as the book. Once you've got your first draft synopsis, we suggest several rewrites until polished to the point of perfection! Keep it simple, brief and snappy. We hope this is of some assistance – we know it’s not easy and every book has its own set of challenges.
Do change your mind. Good ideas are often murdered by better ones. I was working on a novel about a band called the Partitions. Then I decided to call them the Commitments.
The cover letter (albeit in the form of an email) will form part of your submission to us and there are a couple of key items that we are keen to see. Now that you have completed the synopsis, the first part of the cover is to deliver the ‘elevator pitch’ mentioned above. The cover letter will be the first thing a publisher will look at, so it’s time to pop on your marketing hat. You can use your synopsis to compile a crisp elevator pitch to capture the essence of your book. Alternatively, you could produce a separate marketing pitch. This could highlight your ability to write and market to different audiences for example. In any case, it must provide, to a new audience, what your book is about and unlike your synopsis, mustn’t give away too much.
The cover should also include a marketing and commercial angle. As the writer, who do you think the book will appeal to? - the demographic profile. Each book is generally targeted at a particular audience and will rarely appeal to all. The publisher will want to know if this book is commercially feasible and the more you, as the writer, can show an understanding of the intended market, the more likely it will be favoured.
Other key items of information that would be useful on the cover would be the word-count, genre, previously published material if applicable and your full contact details.
Listen to the criticisms and preferences of your trusted "first readers".
We hope that this information is useful to you. Remember, we will do our utmost to read all manuscripts submitted, so if you haven’t perfected the synopsis or the ‘elevator pitch’ don’t lose any sleep about it. This is more of a guide and sometimes helps authors to think more about the marketability of their book. By working through the synopsis it sometimes highlights flaws that were previously not obvious. So it’s good to get these things ironed out prior to finding a publisher.
Which leads to the question: Why choose Cillian to publish your book? Well, in short, we’re a smaller independent publisher that can afford to concentrate our efforts on your book. Unlike, the larger publishing houses, we keep our overheads to a minimum, allowing for a more personalised marketing campaign, concentrating on fewer books each year. We also try to pass on our savings to you and you, as an author, will receive higher royalties. We at Cillian see ourselves as the author-centric independent publisher, committed to our authors by helping them achieve success and developing lasting relationships with them.
If you have to read, to cheer yourself up read biographies of writers who went insane.