Saturday, 14 January 2017


We, at Great New Publishing House, are looking for a children’s writer with plenty of energy to write huge series of best-selling books, ideally very similar to Harry Potter, which will keep us in clover for many years to come.
Applicants must be prepared to:
a)     Work for several weeks/months/years with no pay in order to write said books, before sending the first to us.
b)     Expect to wait several more months before we let you know what we think.
c)      Expect to be asked to rewrite said book many times, even if eventually we decide either to go with what you originally wrote, or that we don’t want it after all.
d)     Be aware that the world of publishing is changing, so we no longer hand out six-figure advances to any of our writers (unless you are already famous, preferably in another field altogether).  In fact we no longer hand out advances at all, but prefer you to wait until royalties begin to roll in.  Given that it takes, on average, 18 months to publish a book, this means you may not see any money until at least two years after your manuscript has been accepted for publication.  This is, of course, in addition to the length of time it took you to write the book in the first place.  
e)     Be also aware that when your book is published you will receive only between 5% and 10% of the cover price for each book sold (we have to pay for our swanky new offices somehow!)  Many people make the foolish assumption that you will get at least 90%!
f)       Be aware that once your first book is on the shelves, you will be expected to tour the country giving talks to schools, libraries, festivals etc., many of these for no fee whatsoever.  This is a must, in order to publicise your book, so it is ultimately for your own benefit, as we do very little publicity ourselves nowadays.  We appreciate that this will take up much of the time you need to write the next book in your series, but we will still expect you to keep to the deadline we have set for you.
g)     Realise that deadlines are for our benefit, not yours.  We expect you to deliver your manuscript promptly when requested, though we may well sit on it for a further six months before getting round to reading it.
h)    Be prepared for the fact that as soon as you have delivered your manuscript, your editor will go off on maternity leave, so your book will be handed to another editor who may not like it anyway.
i)       Be aware that the general public assume you must be a multi-millionaire on the strength of your 1, 2, 6 or 25 previously-published books.
j)       Be aware that you will be patronised by people who think “it must be easy writing for children because the books are quite short”, as well as by those who say, “I could write a book too if I only had the time.”
k)     Be also aware that you will probably be asked when you are going to write a “proper” book, ie one for adults.
l)       Be prepared to spend hours every day working on your own, probably at home.
m)  Be also prepared to discover that if you are working at home the rest of the world does not consider you are working.  Your children/spouse/neighbours may/will assume that because you are at home you are free to play/chat/answer the telephone/take delivery of parcels for yourself or a neighbour and deal with unwanted callers.
n)    If you are still keen to work for us, please submit a synopsis of no more than 500 words, giving a full outline of your intended series, complete with character list and motivations, by next Thursday at the latest.

o)     The editor’s decision is final.


catdownunder said...

Please miss do you take carefully arranged cat hairs in a multitude of colours. Do you want them stuck to the page in order of colour or size or how many it takes to make a meaningful arrangement? In fact are you interested in feline mewsings at all? Oh, you're not? Are you sure? I can provide an elegant 5000 cat hair synopsis.
Yours sincerely
A. Cat.... author of "Wild adventures at Miss Cat's Boarding School for Feline Fiends"

Steve Gladwin said...

Ah Lynne, there wss I having the mistaken belief that I could write and find success with a series of children's books, (or even one!) and now I'm forced to realise that I really should never have given up the day job. Thanks for clarifying my fears. Luckily I've got a fund of money salted away from an unexpected legacy from a previously unknown elderly aunt in Peru, and I will now be able to fulfill my life long dream of setting of for climes tropical from Paddington Station armed only with the blue duffle coat, a red hat and a marmalade sandwich in case of emergencies.! Be seeing you!

Lynne Benton said...

Now there are two very original ideas...! I'm sure you'll both be fantastically successful with them.

Penny Dolan said...

How I wish the writing life experience was not as true as this letter reads, although acknowledging that there are good people out there.

An excellent piece of "fantasy", Lynne!(?)

Sue Purkiss said...

It too often happens like this...

Lynne Benton said...

Thanks for your comments, folks - I truly didn't mean to depress everyone! I haven't personally suffered all these problems, but I do know fellow-writers who have. And I'm sure there are a few great publishers out there who don't behave like this a bit...

Enid Richemont said...

Ouch, spot-on, and not a happy Sunday morning read. I have had totally lovely publishers, but that was some time ago.

Ruth Hatfield said...

Oh Lynne, this is absolutely brilliant. Sod it - for once, I'm just going to spend the day with my delightful daughter, enjoying myself!

Camilla Chester said...

Very funny and probably accurate too. Makes me feel even more smug at being an Indie Author

Lynne Benton said...

Thank you, Ruth and Camilla, for your comments. I was getting a bit concerned that not everyone realised it was a spoof! And Ruth, I hope you enjoyed your day with your daughter - I'm sure it did you a lot of good.