Writers Advice Centre

FAQs

MY STORY NEEDS ILLUSTRATING BUT I CAN’T DRAW SO WHAT SHOULD I DO?

If you are not a writer/illustrator then we are happy to look at stories without illustrations. All children’s publishers have their own ‘banks’ of illustrators and would far rather match an illustrator of their choice with your text.

I WANT TO ILLUSTRATE MY OWN WORK. CAN YOU ADVISE ON MY ILLUSTRATIONS AS WELL AS MY TEXT?

We can, of course, pass general comment on a whole package. However children’s design and children’s editorial are both specialist areas in their own right and we specialise in the editorial side of things.

IF I AM SENDING ILLUSTRATIONS IS IT BEST TO SEND ORIGINALS?

No. Never, never, never send original illustrations in the post – that goes for us and for publishers and agents. Submissions don’t go missing very often but, unfortunately, it does happen. Photocopies may not be quite as good as the originals but, these days, they’re pretty close and certainly good enough.

IN WHAT FORM SHOULD I SEND MY WORK TO YOU?

We prefer to receive work as a Word attachment to an email. You can send in your work as hard copy but if you want it returned and/or your report as hard copy then there is an extra charge. As far as possible we would like to see your work in what you consider to be its final format. In other words imagine that you are approaching us as a publisher or agent. In that way we can put you right should you be doing anything obviously wrong in terms of presentation and/or approach.

CAN I SEND JUST PART OF MY NOVEL?

Yes you can. Obviously the more you send us then the better we are able to judge your completed work. However we understand that our fees can mount up when submitting longer manuscripts so if you wish to send just the first two or three chapters and a synopsis then that is fine.

HOW LONG SHOULD MY SYNOPSIS BE?

Try to keep it to no more that two sides of A4 if you can. And, remember, that your synopsis does count towards your word count as far as our fees are concerned.

SHOULD I SEND A COVERING LETTER AS WELL AS THE FEE SHEET?

The more information we have from you then the better we can help you. So a sample covering letter to the publisher is always a good idea, plus a separate letter to us detailing any specific queries you may have relating to your submission.

IF I AM POSTING MY WORK SHOULD I USE REGISTERED POST?

No it is not necessary to send your work by registered post or recorded delivery. In fact, occasionally, this can even delay receipt of your manuscript at our end, as it is necessary for someone to be available to sign for special deliveries, and being a small office this isn’t always possible. We would suggest using ordinary first class or second class mail.

CAN I HAND DELIVER MY SUBMISSION DIRECTLY TO YOUR OFFICE?

Yes you can. Some authors choose to do this – particularly if their work is very bulky. However, it is best to let us know beforehand if you are planning to hand deliver a submission so that we can confirm there will be someone in the office to receive it.

ARE YOU A PUBLISHER?

No we are not a publisher. However, we are linked to publisher Wacky Bee and anyone using the Writers’ Advice Centre’s services is automatically considered for this list. More details can be found at www.wackybeebooks.com

ARE YOU A LITERARY AGENT?

No, we are not a literary agency – although, obviously, it is in our own best interests to see that our authors find success. So if we feel that a manuscript shows promise we will, as far as possible, push it in the right direction.

WILL YOU BE ABLE TO RECOMMEND A SPECIFIC PUBLISHER OR AGENT FOR MY WORK?

We do work with publishers and agents, so if we feel that a piece of work is very special, we can recommend specific names to approach. However this is rare – especially on a first submission – and we would categorically advise any author against using our services if they are only approaching us to receive a recommendation.

DO I NEED TO COPYRIGHT MY WORK BEFORE SENDING IT OUT?

No. In this country it is not possible to copyright ideas and, in any case, in all my years in children’s publishing, I have never known of a piece of work being copied or stolen.

HOW DO I KNOW YOU WON’T STEAL MY IDEA?

You don’t! But rest assured that our service is entirely professional and confidential. You have to trust us and understand that we are not interested in ‘stealing’ ideas. In our experience there are few truly original ideas out there and, more often than not, it is what an author does with a particular idea that will bring them success. And we couldn’t ‘steal’ that illusive X factor even if we tried – which we wouldn’t!

HOW LONG SHOULD I EXPECT TO WAIT BEFORE RECEIVING MY REPORT?

30 working days (ie around two months) if you are using our manuscript assessment service.
10 working days (ie around two weeks) if you are using our phone appraisal or face-to-face service. There is an option to speed the process up but at additional cost.

WHY DO I HAVE TO WAIT SO LONG FOR A WRITTEN APPRAISAL?

The whole point of our service (and what makes it so unique and special) is that we only use readers who are currently working in children’s publishing – either as editors or as published writers. This means that all our readers have their own work to do as well as work for The Writers’ Advice Centre. In other words our readers are very busy people… but their advice is definitely worth waiting for.

DO YOU HAVE SPECIAL RATES FOR THOSE ON BENEFITS?

I’m afraid not. We are a very small organisation and as a result our profit margins are tiny. If we could afford to give special rates, believe me, we would.

DO I NEED TO SEND MONEY WITH MY WORK?

Fees need to be paid upfront before we can go ahead with an assessment. There are three ways of doing this – online using a credit or debit card, over the telephone using a credit or debit card or by sending a cheque with your manuscript.

WHAT IF I DON’T WANT TO PAY ONLINE?

Our online payment system is completely secure. However if you would rather not pay online you can pay over the phone by credit or debit card or, alternatively, send a cheque.

CAN I CONTACT MY EDITOR WITH FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS ONCE I’VE RECEIVED MY REPORT?

If you have a couple of brief questions which can be answered easily and quickly then of course you can contact us. However if you want to discuss your work in any great detail then a separate consultancy session should be arranged. This can be done by email, over the phone or in person. Alternatively everyone who uses the main manuscript appraisal service is offered a discounted rate for follow-up reports.

IS THERE A MINIMUM AGE TO USE YOUR SERVICE?

Yes, we do ask that authors are over 18. This is because it would be extremely rare for a publisher or agent to consider work from an author under the age of 18.

Success Stories

Over the past 20 years we have been instrumental in helping writers find their place with publishers, whether directly or indirectly. The following is just a handful of our success stories…

"Thank you for turning this around so quickly for me. The feedback is invaluable and will allow me to make a number of really worthwhile amends before approaching publishers. As I go through the report in more detail I may have the odd question, so thank you for being open to further assistance."

R Myles (Manuscript Appraisal Service)

"I’d like to thank you for your words of encouragement. My wife said to my children after the phone call, ‘That’ll be it now, you won’t see your dad for months as he’ll be busy writing.’ How true!"

Neil Swinney (Telephone Appraisal Service)

"Sharing our book with Louise Jordan at the Writers’ Advice Centre was one of our most important steps on the road to publication of our book My Mum’s a Bug-Eyed Monster. Without Louise’s advice about story pacing and which publishers to target, our monster mum may still be languishing in the slush swamp!"

Andy Rigden & Jim Landen (Face to Face Meeting)

"I am finding this writing course very enjoyable and feel inspired by the assignments. I find your feedback particularly motivating and believe that signing up to this course has not only developed my writing confidence, but is one of the best things I did for my writing career"

Kim White (Home Study Course)

"Thank you for facilitating such an excellent workshop yesterday. I would strongly recommend it to anyone wishing to write for children. Experienced writers would definitely benefit from it as well. Pure gold!"

A Chisambo (Writing Workshop)