Resources for Authors

Some extra Tips

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.

Listen to the criticisms and preferences of your trusted "first readers".
Rose Tremain


The unfortunate reality is that the majority of manuscripts do not get published. Ultimately, publishing is a market-driven business and for a publisher to invest their time and money into a publication, they first need to consider its likely sales potential. Obviously, the quality of the manuscript is imperative (although with some books that have made it you do wonder…) but publishers will also need to consider its genre, its intended audience, its timing, as well as a variety of other factors.

So before you set off on a quest to have your manuscript published, firstly make sure that it's ready - we mean really ready! You have only one chance at this so make sure that you've had it critiqued by someone that not only understands the genre but by someone that will give you truthful advice (it's harder than you think to find someone like this). You should also consider a reputable editing services that will offer such a service. We happen to provide this as a separate service at Cillian Editing Services, however there are a few reputable editors out there that may provide a similar professional assessment. Getting your manuscript professionally edited prior to submitting it to a publisher has its advantages, as your offering will be more polished, technical free and much more marketable to a publisher. This is particularly true (I'd go so far as saying crucial) for first time authors.

Once you have perfected your manuscript, there's some really beneficial preparation you can do before you submit it. Try to place yourself in the shoes of the publisher who is going to read through it. Get to know the genre that it ideally fits into, both its similarities and uniqueness to other books, its likely audience and also think about its setting whether it is geographic or seasonal. These are all factors that can make a book more marketable and helps with your pitch.

As part of your submission, its important that you introduce yourself to the publisher. Writing a great biography is not something that writers always feel comfortable with but it’s worth investing some time on. The trick to a great biography is to keep it brief, relevant and professional with a little personal touch. It’s all about selling yourself and establishing your reputation and credibility by establishing yourself as an authority on your book topic.

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.
Roddy Doyle
If you have to read, to cheer yourself up read biographies of writers who went insane.
Colm Tóibín on rules for writing fiction

More than a Summary

A Snappy Synopsis is crucial

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. Use dramatic words that evoke images and resonate with readers of your given genre. Your synopsis should be engaging enough to leave the reader wanting more.

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.

Cover Letter

Why is the cover quite important

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 and put everything you've done so far together. You can use your synopsis to compile a crisp elevator pitch to capture the essence of your book. You could combine it with a marketing pitch and highlight your ability to write and market to different audiences for example.

The cover should also include a marketing and commercial angle. As the writer, who do you think the book will appeal to? 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 including website if you happen to have one.

These are just some simple tips we can give you and whilst there are many more, we consider them to be the most important ones to consider when approaching publishers or agents. If you want more insight and guidance, feel free to visit Cillian Editing Services.

Wishing you the best of luck!

The Cillian Team

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.
Hilary Mantel