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We encourage you to explore all five options to publishing your book and choose what is right for you and your book. You will  be contacted by one of our staff to review your book and the ultimate goals you have for your  book. If your book fits into our criteria, you will be asked to submit a sample chapter for our professional team to review.
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Gareth Crocker’s debut novel, Finding Jack (2011), was published to international acclaim by St Martin’s Press (a MacMillan division).
I normally aim for between 1000 and 2000 words a day and will feel like absolute muck if I miss the mark. It’s not really an issue at the moment, given that I have a multi-book deal, but when I was starting out I bought The Writer’s and Artists’ yearbook (it’s an annual) and followed their advice to the letter. Our two guest authors for the Joburg-based seminar, THE SUITCASE UNDER BED – Practical Advice about Publishing for Aspirant Writers, have been confirmed. They will join us for lunch, and will each share their publishing journeys with you – Steven before lunch, and Gareth after.
We have just a couple of seats left and if you would like to attend click HERE for more information.
My first novel Entanglement started as a film script, which took me about 3 months to first draft. Never less than 500, sometimes as many as 3,000 on a long day, if the muse is sitting on my shoulder. 4.       Explain your writing process – do you write an outline and fill in the story, or do you write from Chapter 1 and let the story and characters lead you?
5.       Is there anything you find particularly challenging in writing, and if so, how do you overcome it?
I rarely get it, except for the at the 40,000 word slump, which has happened on all three books. 7.       When you submit your manuscript to a publisher, what information do you include in your proposal? First novel – just the manuscript, and a recommendation from an important friend, luckily (Kevin Bloom). These days it’s unusual for writers to send off hard copy manuscripts and it’s unusual for agents or publishers to require this. This sounds ridiculous even to say it, but I have to say it anyway: before you send your manuscript off, in whatever format you’re sending it, read it through one more time from start to finish – you, personally, not a helpful friend who used to be a teacher. If you’re sending hard copy, don’t scribble over a line that’s suddenly struck you as wrong and write the better sentence above it or in the margin. Don’t send off one version and then sit down and rewrite it in a panic and follow it up with frantic Please read this version instead emails and three more Word attachments.
Double spacing might mean more pages, but it’s easier to read (and to make notes on) than single spacing at this manuscript stage. Don’t think you need to be a typesetter or book designer and attempt to make the pages look exactly like you imagine they’ll look when the book comes out of the oven. Whether you send off the full manuscript or the usually required three chapters, don’t forget to send a synopsis as well, and also a brief biographical piece.
Alison Lowry and Tracey McDonald will host a double session (taking place in the Library) on Friday, the 17th of May from 14h30 to 17h00, where they will give advice to aspirant writers on how to fast-track their publishing journeys.
Tickets are limited, so book fast (ticket sales open on the 15th of March ’13) – the session number is 28 (cost per person is R120). Having spent a good few years in the publishing industry, it always surprises me how little research aspiring authors do before they submit their finished manuscripts to a publisher. Boring though it may sound, especially when excitement is building over the final full stop in your manuscript which may now be in your sights, some solid research and a dose of homework is recommended. Your first port of call, however, assuming that you have some knowledge of the local industry and know the names of the key publishers who operate in your home market, is their websites. If, however, your genre is fantasy and your target audience is young adults, or you have a range of illustrated children’s books to offer, and these are not specifically mentioned on the site, ring them up and ask to speak to an editor.
Another good exercise is to browse bookshops – bricks and mortar shops, on-line bookstores and other retailers. If you can, have a chat to a bookseller or the store’s manager and ask what’s selling well. You must have JavaScript enabled in your browser to utilize the functionality of this website. As you go through the different phases of the self-publishing process, you will come upon the step that calls for getting your own ISBN.
ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number, which is a thirteen-digit number assigned to individual books. So, what if you’re printing a second (or third) unique edition of your book or presenting it in a different format? Side Note: If by chance you wind up working with a small press such as a vanity or subsidy press, they may try to assign or sell you an ISBN.
Your ISBN will be printed on the copyright page of your book, whether it’s a hardback or softback book. Now that you see the importance of having your own ISBN(s), you’ll want to tend to a couple of details after your book is printed. It means the ten percent is only on your net profit, which means you keep 100% ownership of your book and 90% of your profit dollars! And to have our books get published by one of the Big Five book publishers make it almost sound like an impossible dream.
These platforms could either be lots of Twitter followers, Blogs, Websites and Facebook Pages that displays your literary prowess and accomplishments.
If you know that you’re already writing great manuscripts, all you need to do is to find a very good literary agent that is somewhat connected with the Big Five.

It sure sounds cruel but you need to give up some of your privileges in order to make the Big Five invest for your book. It was translated into several languages and featured in no fewer than eight volumes of the Reader’s Digest Select Editions. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in writing, and if so, how do you overcome it?
What I’ll normally do is stop writing for a few days and go and do something away from the craft. They provide very strict and accurate guidelines on how to submit your manuscript to both agents and publishers.
His first novel, Entanglement, was published in 2012 and his second novel, Stepping Out, was published in 2013 (both books were published by Picador Africa).
He has meandered through careers as an animator, chief technology officer for a Fortune 500 company, jazz musician, software developer, video game designer, private equity investor and high technology entrepreneur. When I decided to turn it into a novel, the plot and dialogue were already in reasonable shape, so the real job was to build expository, internal dialogues, deepened descriptions and the like.
I know a fair bit about science (I am an MS, and am an avid science reader), but there was some additional research I did about quantum mechanics and scientific method.
I have also now started writing an elevator pitch (somewhat like the back page blurb, but a bit longer). There comes a point when you have to let your book out of your hands to sink or swim on its own in the powerful current carrying the 150 or so other manuscripts destined for the same slush pile as yours in any given month.
The synopsis that publishers and agents always ask for is more to see how well you can explain your book reasonably succinctly than anything else.
If the publisher’s or agent’s requirements say submit a synopsis and three chapters, take it that they mean the first three chapters. Even now that I am no longer in the mainstream of commercial publishing, many writers who are nearing the end of their first drafts contact me to ask for the names of publishers who might be interested in publishing their work. These days you don’t even have to leave your desk to do this – that is, if you have online access, which you do have if you’re reading this – although it might be a good idea to get out of the house and go browsing. All of them will have websites and a tab that tells you about their manuscript submission process. Booksellers are knowledgeable people generally and they are in the business because they love books and they are readers too.
So, even though you are a self-publisher, you are also a publisher, just like the big publishing houses. The protocol is that you must apply a separate ISBN to each book that you publish, and also to every unique edition or format of each book. If it’s a softback book, it will also be placed on the lower part of the back cover, above the bar code. We need styles that are quick and easy to maintain without having to wake up at the break of dawn every morning to get it right. We reserve the right at all times to reject materials that do not fit within these parameters. However, getting your books published by one of them isn’t impossible at all, as long as you know what do to catch their attention. Whether we accept it or not, you need at least one platform to have a sort of promotion for yourself. His second novel, Journey from Darkness, was co-written with his father and published by Penguin Books in 2012. These are really just rough notes that chart out a basic path for the story and its characters.
However, for the type of novels that I write, research is just a tool to lend authenticity to my stories.
Invariably, I’ll be sitting in a movie or playing a game of football and the answer will simply come to me.
Going on memory here, I used to submit a synopsis, a market analysis explaining where and why I thought my story could be a success in the market, as well as the first three chapters of the manuscript. There were also conversations around music and US politics and insanity, but I had enough background from my own reading to suffice (no, I am not insane).
In my second book Stepping Out (now on shelves), I had no idea how it was going to end even when I was half way through.
What is sometimes difficult though is to step back and adjudicate whether a section is Nobel prize-worthy or just embarrassingly bad.
Of course, if there is praise from reviewers and writers for previous novels, this is also packaged.
Still, do check the publisher’s or agent’s requirements on their website or wherever you’ve accessed their details, and do what they say.
These things ought to be self-evident, but having been at the receiving end of manuscript submissions, they’re worth noting again. And just because your laptop came with 35 new fonts doesn’t mean you should try them all out at once. Personally, if the writing in the first three chapters doesn’t hold my attention, it’s unlikely that your synopsis is going to make me want to read them again.
Don’t send Chapters 3, 4 and 7 “because that’s when the story really gets interesting” and you were into the swing of the writing by then. And when I listen closely and then suggest a couple of names of houses who could be receptive, they come back to me and ask for contact details or phone numbers. It will also clearly explain the kind of books they routinely publish and the kind of books they don’t.
There’s something sobering yet exhilarating, if not a little daunting, about being surrounded physically by hard copies of the hundreds of books on shelves and front of store tables that have been released in a given month, but if you’re serious about writing, you’d better face up to it. Once your book is assigned its number, it will keep that number even if you change printers, distributors or retailers.
For example, if you are offering the same title in a hardcover edition, as a paperback, and as an e-book, each of those editions will require a separate ISBN. It will be their number that they’re selling you or assigning to you and if you use that number any future orders for your book with that ISBN number will always go to that publisher. To those who don’t know, the Big Five when it comes to books are none other than Simon and Schuster, Penguin Random House, Hachette Book Group, Macmillan Publishers and HarperCollins.
This month Gareth’s new book, Never Let Go has been released, and his next book, King, will be released in October 2013.

For me, the story and the characters are far more important than any technical information.
It’s such a lonely business that, after a while, you begin to feel quite isolated from your friends and family – from your life really. You also need to include all your contact details, a brief biography and a word count of your work. This month Gareth’s new book, Never Let Go, has been released, and his next book, King, will be released in October 2013. Then I cajoled knowledgeable family and friends to read the first draft (my wife, Kate, is an editor), so there was about another 3 months of polishing.
Occasionally, a writer simply doesn’t have access to technology and while this might present a difficulty or a chance of not being taken seriously, if you explain the circumstances, you ought to get as fair a reading as anyone else.
No matter how carefully you have input the manuscript in Word and might have done clever things with dropped caps and spacing, once the book gets to the production department, the look and feel is probably going to be different to suit the format the publisher decides is best for the book. If your first three chapters don’t grab the publisher, they’re probably not going to grab anyone else either so they’d never have got to Chapter 7 anyway. The chances are that whether you have been writing your novel intensely for only six months or have laboured long and hard on the last section for the last four years, you are going to be very close to the book. I am usually more than happy to help if I can, but what the latter question indicates to me is a lazy lack of effort and a diffidence that isn’t going to get them very far. In a small market like South Africa, it is unusual for a publisher to specialise in a certain area – for example, publish only cookbooks – so most will offer a fairly broad range of fiction and non-fiction. When someone orders a copy of your book down the line, you as the publisher will receive that order.
This is a directory that is used by booksellers and libraries to find and research new titles. I don’t do much editing at this stage, but rather allow the story to flow onto the page as naturally as possible. I did this in spurts, sometimes at sentence level, sometimes at paragraph level and sometimes major restructuring. It’s a tough world out there and you need to equip yourself to weather a few slings and arrows.
The names on those glossy hopeful covers will be your competitors for a reader’s hard earned cash. They know all the publishers because their sales reps call on them every month to talk them through what’s new and what’s coming up. Although you only need one ISBN for your book, it is recommended that you purchase a block of ten numbers to begin with, as you will need new numbers for subsequent editions of your book and for other formats of your book, such as an e-book.
Once all the chapters are down, I’ll go through it a second time – taking much longer to fix and rework each chapter.
In my first novel, Finding Jack, I got a few small things wrong about the helicopters and weapons that were used in the Vietnam War and a good few war veterans went out of their way to inform me of this fact. It’s important to make time to socialise on your off day, just to create a sense of balance. In fact, I think Stephen King credits a dream with saving his most famous novel, The Stand. The advice I got from knowledgeable amateurs and professionals was sometimes rejected and sometimes not.
This is part of the publishing process, not yours – yours is the writing and rewriting process.
Their websites are usually clear about what they don’t publish – poetry or plays, for instance. If you write crime fiction, you will be competing with every other crime novel out there for sales and space. I then pack the laptop away and go through it a third time a month or so later – this is a critical part of the editing process as the time away from the novel gives you some much-needed perspective.
Poor research can also ‘break the spell’ that you are trying to conjure up with your story. Your goal should be – write the best book you can, and expect it to be read by a maximum of two or three people, including your partner and parents. After a while, my rejection slips would carry a small handwritten note from an editor offering some modicum of advice. You need a neutral reader, not someone who will feel awkward about telling you that they didn’t enjoy the book.
How is your book going to be different, or “better” and how will you pitch it to the publisher you’re hoping to interest in taking it on? He or she will then go through the novel and suggest changes at which point I will go through the book a fourth time, accepting and rejecting the proposed edits. As I took the advice, so my rejection slips became more encouraging, with even better advice being offered. Try to find someone whose opinion you value and trust, or someone who doesn’t know you and will do this for you professionally. Make a note of which publishers’ books are prominently on the shelves and which local authors are being showcased.
When you go home, find those books and authors on line and see whether they and their books have websites or Facebook pages. It is my belief that persistence is the single most important ingredient in becoming a published author. Of course, you need to be honest with yourself as well and try to ascertain if you have any talent.
Finally, it’s an absolute fallacy that you need to have ‘special contacts’ in the publishing world in order to succeed. The real truth is that when you’re good enough, and your work is strong enough, you will break through. After years of rejection and knowing not a soul in the industry, I landed a major New York publishing deal.

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