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Publishing Your Manuscript

© Shirley Todd, 2005


You have spent hours upon hours writing and rewriting your manuscript and now you think it is ready.

What do you do next?

Your next step is to have your manuscript assessed (see below). You might choose to have it edited at this stage so that it makes the most favourable ‘first impression' possible — and, on the off-chance your manuscript does not end up among the less than one percent of manuscripts submitted (the percentage I was quoted by one publisher) that are actually selected for production by a traditional publisher, it will mean there is one less procedure for you to do if you decide to self-publish.

Now, how can you increase your chances of being selected?

The more polished your manuscript is — the better your chances are of having it selected. You might think that what you've written is perfect — and that may be the case — but having your manuscript looked over by a professional editor and/or assessor is the best advice I could possibly give you!

Please don't be discouraged if, after having your manuscript edited and/or assessed, it turns out not to be as perfect as you first thought and changes are suggested. DON'T take it too much to heart! Look at what has been suggested and see if the suggested changes improve what you've written! On having my manuscript edited and assessed, I personally found the information I received to be extremely helpful and I worked very hard to turn the weaknesses of my story into its strengths.

After you've polished your manuscript until you're fully satisfied with it — how can you find the right publisher?  You can go to the Book Publishers Association of New Zealand  When the web page opens, click on – About Us. When this page opens look beneath the heading: What We Do. Scroll down to the subheading: We publish: Publishers and Distributors of Aotearoa New Zealand. Download the current copy. The current copy is a .pdf file and has information on the publishers of New Zealand with a brief summary of what they publish. (This could take a few minutes to download) For a free Adobe Reader download which enables you to view .pdf files click here.

Alternatively, you can go to the New Zealand Society of Authors. Once the Web page opens click on - Getting Published. When this page opens click on Publishers. (Note: it also lists literary agents, manuscript assessors, editors and so on) When the page opens, if you click on a listed publisher, it will show a brief summary of what they publish. Also, click on Publications. When this page opens, you will find booklets and leaflets you can order to help with publishing your book.

Lastly, you can go to a bookstore or library and look for books which are in a similar category to yours and see who the publishers are. You then have the choice of sending your manuscript to the different publishers yourself — or finding a literary agent who will approach the publishers on your behalf.

If you choose to send the manuscript to a publisher yourself, check their Web site as they'll usually specify how they want your manuscript presented to them; e.g. A4 paper, double spacing between lines and so on . . . If you can't find the information on their Web site then contact the publisher directly.


IF you don't get picked up by a traditional publisher, don’t despair, all is not lost. YOU can become the publisher of your book.

I've provided the basic information you'll need to get started under Links For Self-Publishing. As your journey to self-publishing begins, it is advisable for you to use the services of a professional proofreader to review ALL your material before going to print, e.g. your manuscript, letters and e-mails promoting your book, and also any information you might put on your Web site. The one listed on my links, Proofread NZ, offers a very personalized service and can check the spelling, grammar, punctuation and language usage (because there are real differences) for either the New Zealand, the UK, or the American markets. If you're planning to sell your book overseas, it might be wise to have it corrected for the appropriate market. I chose to have my book corrected for the American market as I was informed it would also be accepted in both the New Zealand and UK markets.

It is advisable for you to get your own ISBN number (International Standard Book Number) for your book. In so doing, you'll be listed as your book's publisher. Some printing companies may offer to acquire the ISBN for you, but then your book will be listed under their name as publisher, and should you later wish to change to another publisher, you will find you'll need to get another ISBN number and barcode for your book. Acquiring your own ISBN number and barcode at the start gives you the freedom to pick and choose who prints your book now — and in the future.

To acquire an ISBN number and Barcode click link below

 National Library online ISBN application form - http://www.natlib.govt.nz/en/services/5isbn.html

To receive a barcode number ring EAN NZ on 04 801 0833

Obtaining an ISBN and barcode number for your book,
is free for books published in New Zealand

Some printing companies I've checked with are, First Edition Ltd, who does digital printing of books. They'll print a single copy or whatever number of copies you require — the cost-per-copy remains the same. The Copy Press also does digital printing of books. They offer discounts with larger quantities printed. EzyPrint Solutions use a digital press which is comparable to offset printing. Read my Printing Article. There are other digital and offset printing companies listed on my links page for you to investigate.

Before making a final decision, it is a good idea to ask for samples and get one or more of your files printed out — especially if it is colour — as colouring and quality can vary with digital printers. You might find your colour files need to be adjusted. Also, check to see whether you are happy with their binding method. With perfect binding — method used for most novels — do give a tug on the pages to make sure they do not fall out.

The digital printing companies will charge you fees for downloading and/or storing your files. Some will have a set package fee and will not vary the price even if your files are print-ready. The set package fees are fine for those who need help with preparing their files for print but are an unnecessary added cost if your files are print-ready. Shop around so that you only end up paying for work that is actually done.


Advantages with digital printing: The digital files from your computer can go right to print. Alterations can easily be made between print runs. You don't need to print large quantities that could possibly not sell. You supply according to demand.

Disadvantages with digital printing: You could have difficulty negotiating a realistic retail price as successful distribution of your book, apart from quality, largely depends upon your cost-per-copy. (Note: If a printing company says they can get your book distributed, find out how and by whom and check that this is the case!)

You may choose to offset print your book. That usually means you have to print large quantities in order for the book to be cost-effective — short runs can be expensive. When choosing a printer to offset print your book, take along a sample of a book that shows what you want the finished quality of your book to be. It will help when choosing binding method, paper thickness, cardboard thickness, the type of paper to use, etc. Some printers do CTP (computer to plate) which cuts out the cost of having film made.


Advantages with offset printing: Better quality print. Cheaper cost per-copy the larger the quantity you print.

Disadvantages with offset printing: Plates are made which could contain four or more of your books pages, depending on book size. This means both new film — if the printer doesn't do CTP — and new plates would have to be made when making future alterations. Also, due to the larger quantity printed, if they don't sell, you could be stuck with a lot of books gathering dust.

Once you've chosen who is going to produce and/or print your book, it is advisable for you to make sure you have — in your possession — copies of ALL the computer files relating to your book's production; e.g. the graphic design for your book's cover, page layout, text, etc. This ensures you retain control of your book and are not limited in making future choices. Also, by having your own copies, you are protected, in the event the company is sold or closed, or they lose your files.


Check out this Web site: Books Just Books.

This is an American Web site which has a lot of useful information on self-publishing. (Some of the information may not apply to New Zealand ) Once the Web page opens, click on FAQ. When this page opens, you will notice several titled boxes containing questions. Scroll down to the box titled Manufacturing Questions and check out the 13th question contained in that box. You'll find information on the differences between offset and digital printing.

View my Printing Article page as you will find lots of useful information. Also, check out the Self-Publishers Association of New Zealand. Read their current newsletter and their newsletter archive. You'll glean very helpful information from them. Their January 2005 newsletter has very good information on starting up and/or naming one's own company


Most important: Be persistent and don't give up. When you see your first book in print, the effort involved will have been well worth it!

Be realistic: Very few authors earn enough from their books to give up their day job. This includes published and/or self-published authors.

Legal Deposit. If you're publishing a book in New Zealand, you are required to provide two copies to the National Library of New Zealand.

Copyright. In New Zealand, you are automatically granted protection from the time a work is created.

E-Book Publishing. An e-book is a book published in electronic form which can then be delivered to any computer connected to the Internet  - anywhere in the world. Don't overlook the potential of this twenty-first century marketplace.

Final note: Beatrix Potter originally self-published The Tale of Peter Rabbit in 1901 after having been turned down by a half-dozen publishers. She produced 250 copies and either gave them away or sold them for a half-penny. She was later picked up by publisher Frederick Warne — and the rest, as we know, is history. Click here

All the Best on Your Journey

© Shirley Todd, 2005



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