Publishing Tips and Tools

Get tips, tricks and tools on the business of writing and getting published.

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Jacinta di Mase, of Jacinta di Mase Management and secretary of the Australian Literary Agents Association, helps us answer some common questions about literary agents.

A literary agent is a writer’s representative in the commercial world: their manager, their business representative, protector of their copyright, the one who weighs in on the side of the author/illustrator in all dealings.

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Writers Victoria sat down with WV tutor, mentor and manuscript assessor Clare Allan-Kamil to get her take on the art of synopsis writing.

As the synopsis is the first example of your writing an agent, editor or publisher sees, it’s vital to get it right – if they don’t like your synopsis they might not bother to read your sample chapters. As daunting as it seems, there are tricks and tools you can use to make your synopsis stand out.

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A book publishing contract is an agreement that balances the substantial investment of a writer’s work with the financial and professional investment from the publisher. The contract will detail things like royalty payments and the rights the publisher wants the licence to use.

Contracts are legally binding documents. While verbal agreements are also legally binding, they can often be hard to prove. It is recommended that you insist on written documentation, preferably signed and witnessed.

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It will save you time and reduce your chances of rejection if you research an agent’s submission style and business practices before approaching them.

When contacting agents, remember the basics: be polite, follow any submission guidelines and keep your communication clear and concise.

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Through epublishing, a digital book can be read worldwide without the cost of printing or distribution. They are becoming more popular every day but the market is new and for many writers it can be confusing.

Ebooks are made by taking a manuscript and converting it into a format that can be read on an ereader. Publishing houses will sometimes publish ebooks that can be read on many different devices (PDFs and .epub files), but more often they’ll be restricted to a single ereader (.mobi files).

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Been offered a publishing contract? Need advice on how to protect your intellectual property? Want to make sure you avoid litigation?

The following organisations can provide legal or contractual advice to help you.

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A general rule for overseas copyright is to apply the law of the country where you are using the material. For example, if you wish to reproduce a book in Australia (regardless of where it was first published), Australian law applies.

Copyright does vary around the world but certain standards apply. Australia is party to a number of treaties (such as the Berne Convention) that provide a certain minimum level of protection.

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In its simplest form, copyright is the right to copy or reproduce a written work.

Copyright is the author’s form of ownership. However, it means more than the simple ownership of a physical manuscript and the right to photocopy and sell it.

Copyright is a bundle of rights. Each of these rights can be treated separately, and can be sold or licensed to different people.

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There is a great variety of publishers in Australia producing all manner of books.

Publishers are responsible for all the processes associated with taking a book from a manuscript into bookstores. This includes editing, typesetting, design, printing, marketing, promotion and distribution. A 'signed' author usually receives a small advance payment from the publisher and then royalties from sales once the publisher earns back the advance.

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Self-publishing is becoming a popular option for writers of all styles. It gives you the opportunity to have complete control over the production of your work. However, it also necessitates that you manage each part of the publishing process, which is no small task.

The most successful self-published authors are those who plan their project carefully and set themselves realistic goals.