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Traditional Publishing


Although we now focus quite heavily on indie and self-publishing here at The Blood-Red Pencil, many of our early posts were geared towards helping authors navigate the traditional publishing gauntlet, from completed manuscript, to agent queries and pitches, to landing that much-coveted book deal with one of the large publishing houses.


Countdown to a Book

One of the most comprehensive series of posts we ran here was Kathryn Craft's seventeen-post epic account of her journey through the traditional publication process, starting with her realisation that she needed help long before she could even think about querying an agent.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Countdown to a Book 1: Joining Hands

It was 2001 and I’d been a dance critic for eighteen years, paid for my writing all the while. I had this writing thing in the bag. I just needed an agent to get my recently drafted novel out into the world.

(Experienced authors: I hear you. Quit laughing.)

Today, however, in this new series that will count down to the publication of my traditionally published debut novel late next year, I will not tell you how I got my agent...

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Not Right For Us At This Time

Guest blogger Nancy Martin, the author of more than fifty novels, shares rejection letter translations skills she's gained over the course of her prolific career.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Not Right For Us At This Time

“Sorry, this manuscript isn’t right for us at this time.”

"We will pass on this one but please send us more submissions."

Have you received one of these emails after sending a manuscript or partial to an agent? This kind of rejection note generally means your writing is good, but your story idea is one that the agent can't sell. The real message? Put this manuscript in a drawer and write something fresh for us because your writing isn’t the problem.

Part of the frustration...

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Agents and Conferences

The late Helen Ginger with some tips on approaching agents at conferences:

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Agents and Conferences

Conferences used to be about learning to write. They had workshops on Editing, POV, Cutting the Passive Verbs, etc. Now it seems most of them are about finding an agent. The conference will have three or even twenty agents in attendance. Attendees can sign up to pitch to an agent. If there’s a pre-conference cocktail party, attendees show up in hopes an agent or two will be there and they can meet them and possibly fit in a pitch.

But the truth is …

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Dos & Don'ts of Synopsis Writing

Sylvia Dickey Smith on crafting your synopsis.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dos & Don'ts of Synopsis Writing

A strong synopsis showcases your characters and plot, and demonstrates your ability to structure a story. It shows a cohesive plot worthy of an agent or editor’s attention and time, and allows your agent, publisher, marketing department or overseas acquisitions editor to sell your story.


1. If possible, write your synopsis before you start your first draft.

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Compiled by Elle Carter Neal



  1. Great post, Elle! Between some health issues and my work schedule, I have not been able to put together a post this month. However, I have enjoyed so much the ones from others. Revisiting Kathryn's journey to traditional publishing has been especially appreciated. For those of us who choose to self-publish, knowing the way the pros do it can help us find our way. For example, understanding the quality requirements of traditional publishing shows us what our quality should be if we want to bring our best to potential readers and compete on a par with those who have years of experience in the business. Thank you for sharing. :-)

  2. These really are worth rereading!


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