Georgie chats with Kit Carstairs from The Manuscript Agency - Part 2

In Part 2 of our chat with Kit Carstairs from The Manuscript Agency, we pick up with How do you choose the right publisher?  

The Manuscript Agency is an author-focussed organisation, working with writers and authors seeking manuscript development with the view to publishing. They are industry professionals using their expertise to help authors navigate the overwhelming world of publishing.

Kit Carstairs, director of The Manuscript Agency, sat down with us for a chat and offered some publishing advice for the Creative Kids Tales audience. 

How do you choose the right publisher?

Agents and publishers operate in a similar way in the sense that they each have talents and interests in different genres. It also depends on what they are already representing – they aren't going to take on your title if it is going to be in direct competition with another that they are 'flogging'.

The best option to keep up-to-date with publishers' and agents' websites, there you will find all the information you are seeking.

What other things to do writers need to consider?

The genre you are writing in can impact your decision. Slush pile programs are often focused on fiction. So if you are writing fiction, then this might be a more fruitful place to begin, than seeking an agent.

Non-fiction is a little different for a few reasons: a non-fiction title can actually be sold-in based on concept alone, and this is where having an agent on your side can be really helpful.

As for children's fiction, this is a popular and competitive area to break into. There are agents and publishers who specialise in children's fiction and non-fiction and it is important to know who these are. CKT is a great resource for all things related to kid-fiction and have wonderful insights into the industry. There is a huge level of competition in this area and very few spots, so finding the right representation through an agent could prove useful.

As always, no matter what genre you are writing in, making your MS the best it can be is the key to the first steps in success.

What if you don't get 'picked' by either team?

Don't give up! Like everything in publishing…no single element will get you published. It is different elements that come together, when the stars align: it is having a well-drafted manuscript; available publishing spaces at the right time and in the right genre; it is about having the right editor/publisher read your MS (because two eds/pubs in the same organisation, at the same time, can feel differently about your MS!); it is also about having an ed/pub read it at the right time, i.e. when they aren't too busy, good manuscripts are easily missed by under-pressure professionals.

Exhaust every avenue, and if these don't work then consider revisiting your MS and reworking it; with fresh eyes or with feedback you may have received in your rejection letters. Or, if you feel your work is ready, wait a little while and try the same avenues again. We all know that many of the great authors received many, many rejections before finding success!

Any final thoughts?

Your manuscript still needs to win the battle, regardless of which one you choose to fight. The best defence is offence. Be prepared before going into the battle; make sure your manuscript, cover letter and synopsis are the best they can be. The first three chapters are particularly important – this is what the agent or publish is most likely going to read first and if they're not pulled-in then it doesn't really matter if you are approaching a publisher or agent!

Who accepts unsolicited manuscripts?

Please note, these were the major publishing houses that were open for submissions at the time of writing, publishers regularly change what and when/or if they are accepting unsolicited manuscripts.

Further reading…

For more reading on this subject, you might like to check these pages out:

Virginia Lloyd's Website – although this is an old post, it is still relevant.

Here is one from a UK writing teacher: The UK market has more similarities to the Australian market, than the U.S. However, each publishing climate is different and it is always best to refer to advice from within your own jurisdiction.

Another interesting article to glance at is; don't spend too long on this one as it is written about the U.S. publishing market, which isn't altogether reflective of the Australian market. However, it is still an interesting read with some good 'world-building' to give you a sense of the publishing industry (albeit the U.S. industry).

In terms of agents, is a starting point.

You might also like to read about how to write a synopsis or cover Letter in preparation for submission to agents and publishers.

For more information about The Manuscript Agency visit

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Comments 1

Karen Hendriks on Thursday, 13 April 2017 11:36

Spot on and relevant advice. Worth the read.

Spot on and relevant advice. Worth the read.
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