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
Katy Shaw, a professor from Northumbria University has
called for major changes to the publishing industry to make it more
accessible for writers from diverse and working-class backgrounds.
Professor Shaw is the author of the Common People report, which announced its
findings on International Workers Day (1 May) 2020. For more about
the Common People project generally, see the New Writing North website.
The Scottish BAME Writers Network provides
advocacy, literary events and professional development
opportunities for BAME writers based in or from Scotland.
Diversity survey of the publishing workforce
2019. The Publishers Assocation publishes an annual survey. The
latest one (2019) was published in January 2020.
General advice for writers
Scottish Book Trust's
website is a good source of general information and advice for
writers. It has a list of local writing groups among other resources.
Both new and established writers also find the Writers & Artists
Yearbook a valuable source of information.
The Scottish Association of Writers promotes
writing through a variety of events and resources and is a
membership organisation comprising of individuals affiliated with
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 our Book Festivals calendar.
Sources of funding for writers
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.
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 or events are: your local library, the Scottish Poetry
Library (particularly for poets), and local authority and other
evening classes programmes.
Critical feedback and 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'
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.
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
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
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
Check all these details first and you will save time and money.
Keep a copy of anything you send to publishers or agents, and if
you want printed material returned, always enclose return
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. The
Writers and Artists Yearbook website has useful
articles and a Self Publishing Comparison tool. Author Joanna
Penn's website The Creative Penn is a good source of
information on self-publishing based on her own experiences. The Self Publishing Conference website has many of
its presentations available to download. The Alliance of Independent Authors is an
association for self-published writers.
You can get more general advice on our Starting Up As A Publisher
A writer's advice to other writers
An essential for unpublished authors is a visit to author Nicola
Morgan's extremely useful website and blog.
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