Getting Published for Authors and Illustrators

Although The Children's Book Council of Australia offers encouragement to published Australian authors and illustrators by presenting the annual Children's Book of the Year Awards, it does not have the facilities to offer advice to unpublished authors and illustrators. However, the following information may be helpful:

When submitting a manuscript

Choose the publisher carefully as this will save you time and money. Research the type and style of books published by different imprints in your local bookshop or library, or obtain publishers' catalogues. Choose a publisher who publishes the type of book you have written.

Check whether publishers accept unsolicited manuscripts, many do not. Many will not accept manuscripts unless through an agent.

As publishers receive a huge number of submissions, most will not accept your story by email or fax, only through snail mail and with a stamped self-addressed envelope included for return of the material.

Publishers do not have time to evaluate and write a critique of your material. If you require this kind of guidance submit your work to a manuscript evaluation agency.

Assistance about writing and publishing can be obtained from writers centres and the Australian Society of Authors.

Most publishers have guidelines on their website, so study them carefully before sending your work. If your work is a picture book story do not attempt to illustrate it (unless you are a professional illustrator as well). It is the publisher's responsibility to commission an illustrator.

Most of all, be patient. It can take eight to twelve weeks for a publisher to respond to your submission. Though you may be tempted to send your work simultaneously to more than one publisher, this is generally discouraged because most publishers assume that they have an exclusive option on your manuscript.

If you are an artist who wants to illustrate picture books, fiction covers or texts, you should consider all the above points as well as the following:

Most publishers will review your portfolio if they are on the lookout for new talent.

If you are lucky enough to obtain an appointment with a publisher your portfolio should demonstrate your proficiency with different media and techniques, your drawing ability (especially of people and animals) and your versatility.

Alternatively, send a small collection of photocopies of your work to the publisher. If they are impressed with your work they will either hold it on file for future opportunities or contact you for an appointment.

If you get a manuscript accepted...

You will be offered a contract. Basically, if it is a work of fiction, you will be offered a sole royalty, if it is a picture book, author and illustrator will share the royalty. You may also be offered an advance.

Check your contract carefully but remember that most are fairly basic and most publishers in Australia are highly reputable.

You will not have to contribute to the cost of publication.

Publication can take many months, even years if the illustration is complex.

The publisher should keep you involved and informed about all steps in the publication process.

Copyright in the work, whether writing or illustration, remains with the creator, unless the contract states otherwise, which is unusual. Author and illustrator assigns certain rights to the publisher for the term of the contract.

You will have no control over marketing, publicity and selling of your book. However, you may be asked to be available to help promote it through interviews and public appearances.