How to Get a Publisher (Possibly)

See full issue for 2017 11-20

I have, as of writing this article, placed a publishing contract into a postbox.

Deep breaths, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I won’t be knocking on a high-school bully’s door to tell him that I told him so just yet. Mainly because I don’t think that guy even reads, so it’d be a bit of a waste of time.

Bt mainly, mainly, it’s because I don’t want you to get the wrong idea.

This is not me launching away from the starter platform of indie publishing to join the stellar ranks of the Traditionally Published. That imagery is kind of reductive and more than a little outdated when you consider the labyrinthine reality of the writer’s career path in the internet age. But I am going to be published. I will be represented by a publisher.

And I want to talk to you about it, not just so I can process it, but because ‘how the heck do I get published?’ is a question every writer asks themselves at some point. Often many times. Often in the dead of night.

So I’m going to tell you my ‘secret’… and when I’m done telling you, you’re going to be disappointed. You’re going to realise what you already knew. That there is no magic formula or winning strategy, as much as each of us secretly hopes there is.

Some time ago I had the pleasure of attending a convention in the distant lands of America, there to meet some fellow writers I appear on a fortnightly podcast with. I got my air travel paid by generous fans, I got to perform a live podcast in front of maybe fifty of those generous fans, and I got to get drunk in the sunshine for three or four days with good, like-minded people.

It was as close to a rock n’ roll celebrity experience as I have ever and likely will ever get…

While there I got to drinking and talking with a podcast collaborator. Now, all the guys I podcast with are full time writers, which to me makes them dark, mysterious beings who may or may not be magical. One of the guys not only makes his living as a full time writer, but also runs a small press, where he gets to channel his huge, voracious personality into supporting writers he believes in. It was in an off hand conversation about how he runs his publishing outfit that I, quite guilelessly, mentioned that I’d love that kind of support as a writer.

“Done!” he said. And we laughed and drank. The next day I was both surprised and delighted to find that, not only did he remember the conversation, but he was entirely serious. That he’d be happy to have me in his stable.

So, here’s the deal. Here’s my strategy. Write some books. Make some friends. Join a podcast that people like. Get invited to a convention. Accidentally invite yourself into a trusted friend’s small press.


It sounds like i’m playing this down, but I’m really not. I’m enormously excited. I’ve seen this guy in action, and he can work a convention like the Fonz works Happy Days. I’m so excited to have his expertise and passion in my corner, and I’m confident he’ll be able to push my books, and my talent, further than I have thus been able to. And hopefully he’ll make a little money out of me too, because rest assured, at the heart of every successful indie writer is a shrewd entrepreneur. I wouldn’t want anyone in my corner who wasn’t.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, my story appears to be not much different than anybody else’s. You work hard, you put your product out there, you wear the hat and do the dance and you talk to people. You grasp opportunities with both hands and it either works or it doesn’t. Amongst all this you write. Endlessly. Forever.

And maybe it pays off.

Who knows. Hopefully my new partnership will make some money for my friend and I, and I’ll start swinging with a little more confidence. Maybe introducing myself as a ‘published author’ rather than a ‘self-published author’ will imbue me with a little more pizzaz. Maybe that in itself will open some doors. Maybe not.

The point is that I’ve been looking at the world of indie writers long enough to know that a publishing contract, be it a big sparkly one handed down by suits on high, or firm hand up from somebody more established on the ladder than you, is not a chequered flag. It is a starting pistol.


Steve Wetherell

Visit Steve Wetherell‘s website.

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