Friday, 6 March 2009


If you're looking to take a break from the never-ending circus of finding an agent then here's a publisher's imprint you may be interested in - Macmillan New Writing.

A simple concept, and a straightforward process. You're a writer with a polished MS, they're a publisher with a list to fill. You send them your MS, they read it then let you know.

It seems a long time ago now, but when the scheme launched in 2005 it prompted Hari Kunzru, author of The Impressionist, to describe the scheme as the Ryanair of publishing.

To read WriteWords's interview with Macmillan New Writing's editor, Will Atkins, go here.

And, if you're really interested you could seek out Mike Barnard's book on the scheme.

And writer Faye L. Booth gives an illuminating account of her experience with Macmillan New Writing on the Hags, Harlots, Heroines website.

I am surprised and not surprised more publishers have not explored this route. Surprised because it seems an all-round win-win scenario:
  • Writers - reduced decision time
  • Editors - direct access to writers and a much wider range of material
Adding up to savings in the three largest overheads in the creative writing business:
  • Time
  • Ink
  • Paper
Not surprised because it eliminates interlocutors from the process:
  • Agents
  • Marketeers
Will Atkins has posted some of his thinking on the dreaded slush-pile over at Picador here.

From the outside looking in one of the attractive features of the scheme is that it seems to have fostered a camaraderie among its writers and, if interested, you may want to visit the group blog before submitting your work.

If you live in the US, then you might not think that Macmillan New Writing would be interested in you. But you'd be wrong. Go check out Tomorrowville.

In 2006 I submitted an earlier version of my novel. About four weeks later I received an e-mail telling me I had sent a zipped or compressed file which couldn't be opened. Odd, I didn't then know how to create a compressed file. I think the problem arose because I'd created the file in an early version of OpenOffice and Macmillan could only accept .docs. I converted the text to Word, using OpenOffice's onboard file converter, intending to re-send, but the resulting text was a right old mish-mash, way beyond re-formatting. (The most recent version of OpenOffice Write features a much more reliable converter). I haven't yet re-sent.

It's encouraging to see a UK publisher embrace e-working but disappointing to find they only embrace the Microsoft version of e-working.

Now the novelty has worn off, and things have calmed down, I think Macmillan New Writing has proved itself a useful ally to debut writers.

Have you checked it out yet?


  1. Funnily enough, there's an interview with Will in the new issue of Writing Magazine as well.

    Thanks for the comment on my blog!


  2. Saw your post about this on Authonomy. Now they're really gonna be swamped. Thank you. Very useful stuff here. I'm putting up the link to yours on mine.

  3. Thanks for popping over Marion. I read your post about Authonomy - fair assessment I think. I'll get back over to your blog tomorrow and read a few more posts. Regards.

  4. I wrote my novel Acts of Violence on OpenOffice and ended up having to go to an internet cafe that had Microsoft Office on their machines in order to convert my ms to a .doc file, since, when I tried to do it on OpenOffice, the manuscript lost its header and the formatting went wonky. This was in December, so they still don't have all the kinks worked out with file conversion.

    Still, it was worth the three bucks it cost to use the internet cafe and the hour I spent fiddling with the formatting: a month after I sent off the manuscript, Will Atkins informed me they'd be publishing my book.

    It's scheduled for a November release, and so far, I couldn't be happier with the way things have progressed.

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  6. Hi Ryan, that's brilliant news re: Acts of Violence. You must be well pleased. Thanks very much for sharing. I'll put a link to your site here in the appropriate sidebar. I realise you'll likely be busy from here on to November (well, and beyond with the promotion)but would you be able to guest post on your experience at some point nearer publishing date?
    Fantastic news.
    Yep, and OpenOffice still has a way to go with total Word compatibility. Thanks again.

  7. Hey, thanks!

    And yes, I'd be happy to guest post as the pub date nears.

  8. i'm writing a book and am looking for a publisher. It's based on my experience working in a certain industry. like an autobiography. Does anyone have any tips on which publishers like these kind of MS?