Big Announcement: The Clarendon House Submissions Process
Writers want to get published. Ideally, they want to receive monetary reward for their work too.
I’ve been contemplating for some time how best to serve those needs.
Right now, Clarendon House anthologies accept submissions without cash payment to authors, but in return offer the opportunity for such submissions to be voted as ‘best in the anthology’ by readers — and a winning vote gets the author a book contract, a chance to publish their own book upon which royalties are paid.
Having a limited budget as an independent publisher, and no resources other than myself, some expertise and a laptop, that was the best I could come up with at the time to help writers get established and start a paying career. As far as I know, no other publisher in the world offers such an arrangement. And it’s been successful, with eight authors so far having received royalties on their own books after following this route.
But that pathway is still too narrow, I think. There needs to be a wider gateway to commercial returns, especially for new authors.
Over the last three years, since I started publishing anthologies and personal collections, I’ve received almost two thousand submissions of one kind or another, and I’ve been able to make observations about them ranging from their format to their subject matter to their overall shape. I have also observed what works and what doesn’t work in the world of marketing (and summarised those findings in an e-book). All of those observations add up to being able to make certain judgements about whether or not individual pieces of work are viable as publications. Viability is based on questions like
‘Does this work have an audience?’
‘What is the likely commercial size of that audience?’ and
‘Is there enough potential here to warrant the time and effort involved in publishing it?’
Whenever a writer submits a work to a publisher in the ordinary fashion, those are the kinds of question which are being asked. The technical accuracy of the writing and whether or not it’s a carefully crafted piece, whether or not it has some kind of ‘soul’ or life of its own, these all matter too — but from a publisher’s perspective, they often lead to more practical questions: is this going to be worthwhile commercially? Is it worth the time and investment needed to get it available to readers?
The problem is that publishing takes time and effort.
By far the majority of publishers take enormous risks publishing the works that they do. In fact, every single one of them (and this applies to Hollywood movie studios as well) recoup their annual costs on the back of one or two ‘hits’, while 99% of the publications produce nothing but losses. That’s just the way the business model for publishing (and movie-making) works. If a publisher doesn’t get at least one ‘big hit’ in a year, they struggle to survive; a couple of years like that, and they’re gone.
Part of the publishing landscape, then, is reducing that risk as much as possible and only producing works which look like they have a chance of ‘making it’ commercially. Rather than just ending up with one or two ‘hits’ by chance, a more ideal scene would be to have several works at least recouping their costs and going on to commercial stability over a period of time. Such a scene might be achieved by more carefully assessing the potential audience for each work submitted.
So my task was simplifying everything for both writer (you) and publisher (me) along the above lines.
What I had to do was break this all down into a kind of equation that really cuts to the heart of the matter.
It started with submissions arriving on my desk (or laptop, as I don’t have a desk).
My inbox quickly becomes loaded with unread submissions, and reading is one of the few things in the world which can’t be sped up to any great degree: pages take a certain amount of time to read properly. Most publishers therefore try to reduce this factor by asking for the first couple of chapters of a longer work, hoping to be able to make a judgement based on those as to whether or not to proceed further.
But even that didn’t necessarily produce answers to the key questions ‘Does this work have an audience?’ ‘What is the likely commercial size of that audience?’ and ‘Is there enough potential here to warrant the time and effort involved in publishing it?’
So I had to find a way of circumventing most of this.
For this to work, a certain amount of homework would need to be done by the writer before submitting the work. But that preliminary work would be valuable in its own right, whether it produced an acceptance from me or not.
With all this in mind, I’ve developed a process through which any writer can submit any work to Clarendon House.
The Clarendon House Submissions Process
Anyone wishing to use the process would be expected to fill in a comprehensive form. That form would require work, possibly quite a lot of work, on the part of a writer prior to submission.
What such a form would mean, though, would be that a writer would be able to submit ANY WORK to Clarendon House for possible publication: novels, novellas, collections, plays, anything which they wanted to get published. They would simply need to follow a series of steps to see if they would get approved.
In line with other standard publishers, there would be NO COSTS involved: a work, if accepted, would be edited, proofread, formatted with its own cover and blurb and so on, without cost to the author. That would be because I would have considered it worth the time and effort, and would expect to recoup costs and make a profit upon publication.
Upon acceptance, a book contract would be signed and a royalty arrangement agreed upon.
If this interests you, be prepared. There are pros and cons, which I will try to summarise here:
1. You’ll be able to take ANY work of yours and submit it to Clarendon House — that novel you’ve been working on for years, that series of fantasies you’ve crafted, that obscure novella which everyone else has refused, and so forth — they now could all have a chance at reaching readers through Clarendon House.
2. The answers required by the form will almost undoubtedly prove enlightening to you, regardless of whether your work is accepted: you’ll probably have all kinds of realisations about marketing and viability and audiences, and you’ll be able to make adjustments or preparations accordingly. The form is actually an incredibly valuable free service for writers in its own right.
3. Upon acceptance, you’ll get to sign a book contract, and your work will be professionally edited, formatted and proofread free of charge — you’ll get to work with me as a cover designer too, and I’ll develop an effective blurb for your book.
4. The book will be released on Amazon as a paperback and Kindle version and you’ll receive royalties periodically based on sales throughout the year.
1. Feedback from me won’t be swift — I am anticipating a huge inflow of forms. I will progress through them all carefully. In some cases, I will be able to advise relatively quickly that I am not going to publish, and will try to give guidance as to next steps; in other cases, I may come back to you after a long wait on your part with additional questions and still, in the end, say no.
2. The answers required by the form are not simple Yes or No answers. they will require serious work, market research and possibly some introversion and contemplation on your part. Filling in the form to the best of your ability is actually part of your ‘pitch’ to me as a potential publisher. Short, brush-off, ‘I don’t know’ kind of answers will naturally result in non-acceptance. But even failing to come up with answers should teach you some things about the kinds of barriers which stand between you and publication.
3. Professional editing, formatting, proofreading, cover design, blurb writing for your book will all occur for free — but you will need to cooperate and take my advice on the above. Three years in the publishing industry and over forty years of studying fiction produces a certain level of knowledge about what works and what doesn’t.
4. Amazon new book releases don’t necessarily make lots of money. New authors publishing first works should not expect to make more than a few pounds or dollars initially. Naturally, if you have written a great book and you do the needed market research — and especially if you follow the steps outlined in my marketing book — you will make more than if you don’t. But getting published is really just the start of the journey towards commercial viability.
Overall, though, this is a great opportunity to achieve a dream.
So…are you interested?
Do you have something in mind which you think might get accepted?
If so, take a look at this form and start working through it.
PLEASE NOTE: I offer many paid services which may help you with the form’s steps. You are under no obligation whatsoever to use these in order to submit work. If you approach me separately to use such services, this will not necessarily predispose me to accept your work afterwards.
Ask me any questions you wish: