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21 April 2019

Getting Published

We are often contacted by writers who ask for information on funding for their writing, feedback on their writing or how to get their books published by a publisher. We've set out some advice below. For information on self-publishing, see Starting Up As A Publisher.


General advice for writers

Scottish Book Trust's website is a good source of general information and advice for writers. Emergents - a community interest company - provides development and support for writers in the Highlands and Islands. Both new and established writers also find the Writers & Artists Yearbook a valuable source of information.

The Scottish Writers Centre is a countrywide resource, which supports national writers and promotes Scotland's vibrant literary culture. It is operated solely by writer volunteers for writers.

The Federation of Writers (Scotland) is an organisation set-up to to support writers by making the whole process much easier to negotiate, from starting to write to publication. They can help you to find a writing group in your area, tell you where you can perform and help with the process of getting published.

Similarly the Scottish Association of Writers promotes writing through a variety of events and resources and is a membership organisation comprising of individuals affiliated with writing clubs.

The Edinburgh International Book Festival runs very popular sessions for writers. They sell out quickly so book your place as soon as booking opens. Other book festivals may run events for writers. For a list of festivals in Scotland, see the Book Festival Scotland website.

Fife Writes is a new writing group up by Create in Fife in association with Fife Cultural Trust.


Sources of funding for writers

  • Creative Scotland may be a source of funding for writers
  • Scottish Book Trust's website has a section on Writers and Writing that lists opportunities for writers including the New Writer Awards
  • The Society of Authors administers a variety of grants and awards.

Funding for publications

Community groups and other organisations often fundraise to cover the costs of producing their publications. Other sources to investigate include National Lottery Funding, local authority funds and sponsorship from individuals or businesses:

Assessment of your writing

If you would like an objective appraisal of your writing before you send it to a publisher, there are several options to consider: mainly writing groups, courses and critical feedback.

Writing groups

Some writers join writing groups where they benefit from the support and feedback from a tutor and their fellow writers. They will vary in time and cost with some university or other high-level courses being very expensive. Good sources for finding a local group are: your local library, the Scottish Poetry Library (particularly for poets), and local authority and other evening classes programmes.

Critical feedback and individual tutoring

The Scottish Poetry Library website lists some tutors who offer critical feedback and/or individual tutoring.

Literary consultants offer a range of services from feedback to full publishing services.

If you decide to use paid services, check the credentials of the provider and what other users have said (eg on writers' forums).

Submitting work to publishers

Here is some general advice about submitting work to publishers which should help you to go about it in the best possible way.

Why publish?

Consider what you are hoping to achieve by publication. If your book is mainly of family interest or for small-scale fundraising, you may wish to consider self-publishing (see Starting Up As A Publisher). 

Do your research

The most important starting point is to find publishing companies who specialise in the type of work you have written. Research publishers online, check the listings in the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook, and browse the relevant subject section in your local bookshop or library. There is a list of Publishing Scotland's publisher members on our website. Other publishers' associations (Independent Publishers Guild, Publishers Association and ALPSP) have lists of their members on their websites.


Before sending your manuscript find out if the publisher is commissioning new work and whether they will look at unsolicited material. Most publishers prefer a brief, businesslike letter (detailing the book's potential readers, what it is about and what is unique about it), a synopsis of its contents and a sample chapter. Check whether this material is acceptable by e-mail as not all publishers accept email submissions.

Many publishers prefer approaches to be made through literary agents.

Check all these details first and you will save time and money. Keep a copy of anything you send to publishers or agents, and always enclose return postage.



Another option for getting published is self-publishing which should not be confused with vanity publishing. With self-publishing you can do it all by yourself or use a reputable self-publishing company. There are advantages and disadvantages to self-publishing but whatever route you take, research your market thoroughly. Author Joanna Penn's website The Creative Penn is a good source of information on self-publishing based on her own experiences.

You can get more general advice on our Starting Up As A Publisher page.


A writer's advice to other writers

An essential for unpublished authors is a visit to author Nicola Morgan's extremely useful blog/website for writers. Help I Need a Publisher was set up in the hope that those who read it might be able to approach agents and publishers with more likelihood of success. Nicola's other website also provides advice and insight: see Nicola Morgan.


Meeting up with other writers

Writing can be a solitary occupation but you can meet up with other writers (and other book industry people) at one of Scotland's literary salons. Details of the next salons are on their websites.