The information below was compiled from The Guardian1. (The attribute for the information is at the end of each point)
- Pick the right journal: It’s a bad sign if you don’t recognize any of the editorial board. Check that your article is within the scope of the journal that you are submitting to. This seems so obvious but it’s surprising how many articles are submitted to journals that are completely inappropriate. Ideally look through a number of recent issues to ensure that it is publishing articles on the same topic and that are of similar quality and impact. Ian Russell, editorial director for science at Oxford University Press. Lists of academic journals from Wikipedia.
- Always follow the correct submissions procedures. Often authors don’t spend the 10 minutes it takes to read the instructions to submit, which wastes enormous quantities of time for both the author and the editor and stretches the process when it does not need to. Tangali Sudarshan, editor, Surface Engineering
- Don’t repeat your abstract in the cover letter. We look to the cover letter for an indication from you about what you think is most interesting and significant about the paper, and why you think it is a good fit for the journal. There is no need to repeat the abstract or go through the content of the paper in detail – we will read the paper itself to find out what it says. The cover letter is a place for a bigger picture outline, plus any other information that you would like us to have. Deborah Sweet, editor of Cell Stem Cell and publishing director at Cell Press
- A common reason for rejections is lack of context. Make sure that it is clear where your research sits within the wider scholarly landscape, and which gaps in knowledge it’s addressing. A common reason for articles being rejected after peer review is this lack of context or lack of clarity about why the research is important. Jane Winters, executive editor of the Institute of Historical Research’s journal, Historical Research and associate editor of Frontiers in Digital Humanities: Digital History
- Don’t over-state your methodology. Ethnography seems to be the trendy method of the moment, so lots of articles submitted claim to be based on it. However, closer inspection reveals quite limited and standard interview data. A couple of interviews in a café do not constitute ethnography. Be clear - early on - about the nature and scope of your data collection. The same goes for the use of theory. If a theoretical insight is useful to your analysis, use it consistently throughout your argument and text. Fiona Macaulay, editorial board, Journal of Latin American Studies
- Respond directly (and calmly) to reviewer comments. When resubmitting a paper following revisions, include a detailed document summarizing all the changes suggested by the reviewers, and how you have changed your manuscript in light of them. Stick to the facts, and don’t rant. Don’t respond to reviewer feedback as soon as you get it. Read it, think about it for several days, discuss it with others, and then draft a response. Helen Ball, editorial board, Journal of Human Lactation
- Revise and resubmit: don’t give up after getting through all the major hurdles. You’d be surprised how many authors who receive the standard “revise and resubmit” letter never actually do so. But it is worth doing - some authors who get asked to do major revisions persevere and end up getting their work published, yet others, who had far less to do, never resubmit. It seems silly to get through the major hurdles of writing the article, getting it past the editors and back from peer review only to then give up. Fiona Macaulay, editorial board, Journal of Latin American Studies
- It is acceptable to challenge reviewers, with good justification. It is acceptable to decline a reviewer’s suggestion to change a component of your article if you have a good justification, or can (politely) argue why the reviewer is wrong. A rational explanation will be accepted by editors, especially if it is clear you have considered all the feedback received and accepted some of it. Helen Ball, editorial board of Journal of Human Lactation
- Think about how quickly you want to see your paper published. Some journals rank more highly than others and so your risk of rejection is going to be greater. People need to think about whether or not they need to see their work published quickly - because certain journals will take longer. Some journals, like ours, also do advance access so once the article is accepted it appears on the journal website. This is important if you’re preparing for a job interview and need to show that you are publishable. Hugh McLaughlin, editor in chief, Social Work Education - the International Journal
- Remember: when you read published papers you only see the finished article. Publishing in top journals is a challenge for everyone, but it may seem easier for other people. When you read published papers you see the finished article, not the first draft, nor the first revise and resubmit, nor any of the intermediate versions – and you never see the failures. Philip Powell, managing editor of the Information Systems Journal
- Palgrave Macmillan:
Before looking at the below information about publishing, check out the helpful tips and precautions in Author Etiquette & Book Publishing Scams: a video from Meg LaTorre (aka iWriterly).
Now, we are going to lay out the process you will need to follow for traditional book publishing. The basic setup for publishing is provided by Valerie Peterson2:
- Finish the Novel or Proposal. Fiction writers, particularly first-time writers, generally produce a complete manuscript before it is considered for publication. Authors of nonfiction write a book proposal first, although many publishers ask for a completed manuscript, if the query is intriguing, instead of a proposal. In the publishing trade, a proposal is a sales document that outlines the author's intention for the finished book. Even when writing a book proposal, you need to have two or three chapters written, plus details of all the other chapters plotted, along with other information such as book competition and marketing plan.
- Get a Literary Agent. If you want your book to be published by a traditional publishing house, your novel or proposal should be handled by a literary agent, not sent directly to a publisher by you. While it is possible to sell a book directly to a publisher, there are advantages of working with an agent instead. Agents have existing relationships with publishers that can get your submission to a more senior editor. Plus, they can send simultaneous submissions and they have contract negotiation experience. Unsolicited manuscripts often only get a cursory glance from a junior editor or never get read at all. Getting an agent starts by sending a query letter that outlines the details of your book to agents that represent the type of book you've written. In fiction, it includes the genre and brief synopsis. Depending on the agent, you might be asked to send a full synopsis at the same time as the query. For non-fiction, you'll send a query letter that outlines your book and why you're the best person to cover that topic. Some agents will ask for a sample chapter along with the query. Once an agent is intrigued by your query, they'll ask for more. In fiction, the agent might ask for a partial or full manuscript, and, if you didn't include it before, a synopsis. In non-fiction, the agent will usually ask for the full proposal and possibly the manuscript.
- Sign the Contract. A book contract is a legally binding agreement between an author and a book publisher. It outlines the obligations and rights of each party in the agreement. It also details the financial arrangement between the author and the publisher. If you have an agent, they'll be able to explain each term in the contract and help you negotiate if you have issues.
- Brace Yourself. While getting a book deal is a great accomplishment and an exciting time, you'll soon discover that it has many challenges. For one, many hands will be touching your manuscript before it gets into print, and many of them will be suggesting changes or challenging your prose, which can be difficult to hear. You may or may not have input into the cover design or final approval of the cover, which can be annoying. Finally, there's the amount of time that the publishing process takes. Depending on the publisher's commitment to your book and the size of the publisher, it can take twelve months to 2 years before your book comes out. It can take a month or two to get your first round edits. The number of rounds of edits will depend on how well you and the editor come to an agreement over changes. Once you submit your final edited manuscript, it could be months before you see a copyedit, which involves checking the manuscript for grammar, typos, and other writing issues. You may not see a cover until a few months before publication.
- Get to Know Your Editor. You will work closely with an editor as your manuscript is read. This is a critical process and a collaborative effort. You may be asked to rewrite parts of your book, chop whole chapters out, make plot changes, correct factual errors, or clarify passages. You might even be asked to change the title of your book. The editor-author relationship can be difficult if you don't see eye-to-eye on the book. It's important to always be professional and try to view your manuscript through the publisher's eyes. That doesn't mean you can't advocate for your creation, but you do need to try and review editorial suggestions objectively. If the relationship with your editor becomes difficult, you can ask your agent to mediate.
- Work With the Editorial Team. Your editor is a key part of the editorial department and is your main contact through this process. But the department has a role in many other pieces of the project, like cover art, other artwork or illustrations, and fact-checking. While all of these things might be going on, the author and editor will continue to shape the content into a final manuscript.
- Now Production Begins. The book production process officially starts when the final manuscript goes to the copyeditor, whose job generally falls under the production department. The book production department is responsible for the design, layout, printing, and e-book coding of the finished book.
- Meanwhile, In Other Departments... In a traditional publishing house, the packaging team is working on the book jacket design as the editorial process continues. The marketing, publicity, and sales departments are all strategizing, too. This is the nitty-gritty of the book business; figuring out how to promote the book to the public and sell it to the bookstores. However, don't think your publisher, big or small, will sell your book for you. The reality is that publishers sell books to bookstores, not readers. Publishers will expect you to do the heavy lifting when it comes to marketing your book, and in fact, most publishers will ask you to submit your marketing plan. Some publishers, especially of non-fiction, won't buy your book unless they see that you have a ready market, such as an email list, social media following, or are viewed as an expert in the topic. That's why you should start talking about your book even before it's finished. If you want your book to be a success, you'll be right at the center of the promotional and sales plan. Your ability to sell another book is largely dependent on how well your last book sold.
- Finally, It's a Book. Well, maybe not immediately. Your book has been added to the publishing house's publication calendar. It will roll off the presses on a certain date. The publicity campaign starts, and advance copies are mailed out to book critics. How much your publisher helps with this depends on the size of your publisher, so you need to be ready to help. Most publishers will give you digital ARCs (advanced review copy) of your book that you can use to get reviews and in your marketing efforts. Then, finally, it will be shipped to bookstores, both brick-and-mortar and web-based. Note that today, while your book might be available for bookstores to order, it might not automatically get stocked. This depends, in part, on the size of the publisher and how the book is produced. Many smaller presses use print-on-demand (POD), and unless the publisher guarantees the ability to return the book, bookstores don't normally stock POD books. With that said, you can work with your local bookstores, especially independent stores, to get your book stocked. Even now with your book ready for release, your job is far from over. Get ready for your publicity tour.
- Publishing 101: What You Need to Know from Writer's Digest
- A Guide to the Publishing Process from Bloomsbury
- Lindsay Ellis's video: How To Get A Book Deal in Ten Years or Less
- iWriterly's Youtube Channel: this channel contains videos about anything and everything that an author could need (e.g., publishing help, editing help, story help).
- Submittable: a platform that smooths the process of submitting work to journals and/or organizations that coordinate with this website.
- Duotrope: an online service of submission statistics (e.g., acceptance/rejection rates, submission turnaround, submission locations, etc.). There is a monthly fee of $5 for full access to the service.
- Amazon: if you don't want to go through the process of getting a literary agent and finding a publisher, there is always self-publishing. Amazon is probably to the easiest route to accomplish this.
In this section, we are mainly going to focus on self-promotion and building a brand (both of which you will need to keep in mind when self-publishing), but before diving into that, check out the Wikipedia page for Self-publishing. The page contains a list of the different platforms that you can post your work to as well as provides you with facts, figures, and resources to help you find the avenue that is the best fit for you.
- How to Self-Publish Your First Book: Step-by-step tutorial for beginners: a video from Gillian Perkins
- How I Sold Over Half A Million Books Self-Publishing: a video from Sarra Cannon
If you decide to publish your work yourself, you are going to have to be very conscious of your online presence in order to build up and maintain a following. Below are a few resources to help you get started on developing a personal brand and what you need for successful self-promotion:
In the digital age, you (unfortunately) need to have some type of online presence. The first place to start is joining social media companies: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, etc. Once you are on these sites, you might consider creating a personal brand or image that evokes what you are trying to present to the world.
- How to Build Your Personal Brand: a video from Aileen Xu (aka Lavendaire)
- 6 Steps to Build a STRONG Personal Brand in 2020 (On AND OFF Social Media): a video from Erin on Demand
- GaryVee's videos are about creating personal and professional brands
- Powerful Personal Branding: a video lecture of Ann Bastianelli from TED Talks
To create a website, you need to follow 4 basic steps from Business Queensland3:
1. Register your domain name. Your domain name should reflect your products or services so that your customers can easily find your business through a search engine. Your customers may also expect your domain name to be similar to your business name. Your domain name will also be used for your email address. While you can use a free email address such as hotmail, sending emails from a business address looks more professional. To register your domain name, you will need to find an accredited registrar and pay a fee.
2. Find a web hosting company. You will need to find a web hosting company to get your domain name on the internet. Most of the major internet service providers offer web hosting services. They can also provide you with multiple email addresses. Monthly fees for web hosting vary depending on how large your website is and how many visits you get.
3. Prepare your content. Think about what you want your customers to be able to do via your website. This will help you work out what sections or pages you want to include. Consider what information or transactions your customers will want and make sure the site is structured to make it easy for them to find and do the things they need. Just as you might hire a professional to design your site, you might also want to consider hiring a professional to write and structure your content. A website that is well designed and easy for customers to use will help your business stand out. Having relevant and appropriate content and images will help customers understand your products and services and will make them feel comfortable with buying from your business.
4. Build your website. You can build your own website or have a professional web developer build it for you. Websites need to be kept up to date, so make sure you plan for ongoing maintenance. You can use a website publishing package to build your own website. These are similar to word processors, but also have built-in features to convert your text and images to web content and send it to your website. Having someone else build a website for you is a good idea if you're new to online business. A professional web developer can build your site quickly and provide guidance on successful web design. Hiring a professional can be particularly useful if you are looking at having an online shop or offering other services through your website. You will need to design your website so it can be easily used on smartphones and other mobile devices. Optimizing your website for mobile use means that the growing number of people using phones and tablets to access the internet can use your site while they are out and about.
- How to Make a Website in 10 mins - Simple & Easy: a video from Website Learners
- Create a Pro Website Youtube channel: contains multiple videos about different website platforms
- How to Make A Website for Beginners | TECH TALK: a video from Shameless Maya
- How to Format a Book in Word | A Step-by-Step Tutorial: a video by Vivien Reis
- Formatting 101: How To Format for Self-Publishing: a video by Bethany Atazadeh
- Create Space: Amazon Kindle's specification format requirements
Additional Writing Resources
- For information on cover letters, check out Résumés and Cover Letters from Career Services as well as our Business and Application Writing page. You will probably need one for your submission.
- Our entire collection of resources to help you with any type of writing project can be found here: Writing Resources.
- If you are interested in creative aids in particular, we have those available here: Creative Writing.
- "How to get published in an academic journal: top tips from editors." The Guardian, Guardian News & Media Limited, https://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/jan/03/how-to-get-published-in-an-academic-journal-top-tips-from-editors.
- Peterson, Valerie. "Steps to Getting a Book Published." Book Publishing, The Balance Careers, https://www.thebalancecareers.com/getting-your-book-published-2800055.
- "Creating a website." Business Queensland, Queensland Government, https://www.business.qld.gov.au/starting-business/internet-start-ups/online-basics/creating-websites.