Perfectly formed: what makes a great submission to an indie publisher?

Sam Lown, publisher at Prospera Publishing Ltd. has written the following guest blog to explain what makes a great submission to an indie publisher. At LWC, we love indie publishers, they just seem to be more flexible, more courageous, at times more writer-friendly and just well, more interesting.

Prospera Publishing is a new imprint offering the very best in women’s fiction, children’s/teen fiction and travel writing.  They also publish the lovely Marsha Moore – who has written two nonfiction books for Prospera and her first novel is coming out next year – and is a LWC member.


As a fledging publisher, we have to be very selective about the titles we choose, for that most obvious of reasons – turnover. Although we have a number of submissions each week, a few stand out from the rest and we thought a brief rundown of the reasons why they impress us might be useful to all those budding authors who hope to be signed.

Personally, we look for writers who exhibit signs of longevity, and aim to sign those who have at least two, if not three great ideas toted up in a Word document somewhere. Of course, we are not alone in this regard; all publishers know that the first book of a new author is more often than not a loss maker, once publicity costs and advertising are taken into account. But it’s the future potential, the ability to produce equally compelling reads, time after time, that makes a prospective new signing attractive to us. The ideas don’t have to be intricately described – even a one liner can help to convince us that we are backing a multi-trick writer. Further, if we aren’t enamoured by the first book presented, but like the writing style, the provision of these extra ideas has in the past encouraged us to offer a deal.  So the advice here is to present your first book in the required format, but additionally, provide intriguing and compelling ideas for subsequent books.

We are also influenced by the author’s commitment to his or her own projects or career. For example, do they actively blog, Tweet and update their Facebook accounts? This is important because the market is currently in a dramatic shift towards e-books, and the better-developed an author’s online presence, the more likely we are to see future value in nurturing his or her career. Having said this, it should be noted that all these activities should be done in a professional manner that befits the type of writer they are. For example, illogical rants against politicians or state-owned bodies are fine for a non-fiction writer of a philosophical bent; not so great for a children’s author. Never underestimate the power of Google. If you publish it somewhere online, someone will eventually find it and read it.

Next, we consider whether the prospective authors are interested in the general state of the market. And most importantly, can they accurately place themselves within the market, and effectively compare themselves with other writers of the same genre? It is astonishing that many submissions we see profess to offer ‘something new’ when in fact the proper classification may be ‘something unlikely to sell.’ So when an author presents a clearly defined position within their genre, and that genre is one we feature on our list, we are encouraged to look further.

And finally, we look for all the little expected submissions bits and pieces – but which, again, are unfortunately lacking in many. A clear, concise synopsis; the requisite number of chapters or pages as per the submissions guideline; a well-edited manuscript that is well-paced and plotted; and of course, that elusive of items, the ‘must-read’ title – difficult to come up with, but the ideal topping to a package that contains all of the above; and an irresistible lure to small publishers such as Prospera.

Sam Lown


Prospera Publishing

www. prosperapublishing

One Reply to “Perfectly formed: what makes a great submission to an indie publisher?”

  1. I like that: something new may very well be something unlikely to sell. Very profound indeed.

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