The Basics:

1. Do your research. 

Before submitting your manuscript, please understand the following things about us :

Bywater Books (the imprint) publishes lesbian and feminist fiction and narrative nonfiction.

Amble Press publishes fiction and narrative non-fiction from writers who identify as people of color, and those writing across the broader queer spectrum

Check out our authors and our published titles—this is a strong indicator of what we’re looking for.

Read our submission guidelines and follow them.

2. We’re Human.

The reality is that we are a small publishing house and each of us works many jobs—both inside and outside of the company. So, it may take us a while to get to the reading of your submission. We are not doing this to drive you crazy or to manipulate you. Really, we’re not. It may sound crazy that it takes us several months to read your submission, but keep in mind we may have 50 other submissions that came in before yours, plus a number of books that are in various stages of editing and printing, plus all the exigencies of running a business (correspondence, keeping records, promotion, meetings, etc.) plus our day jobs, plus things like sleeping and eating. We will get to you as soon as we can, but if you haven’t heard from us after a while, then please do whatever you need to do to pursue a publishing relationship with another publisher.

3. Network.

Take the time to get to know other authors in your genre. This can be done by:

  • joining writing groups
  • visiting and participating in online writing communities and forums
  • attending writing conferences
  • participating in workshops in your community and online
  • using social media such as Facebook/Twitter/Instagram to connect with other writers

You will learn valuable information from other published authors. Their advice and connections may go a long way when it comes to getting your own work published. We have personally found that just as misery loves company, so does success. Once a person finds success in the publishing world, they cannot wait to share their advice, experience, and joy and to help others obtain this same success—so if you have not done so already, reach out.

4. Format your manuscript.

Prior to submitting your manuscript to us, it is first necessary to make sure that it is formatted to our specifications. You can find them here.

When formatting your book make sure to adhere to the proper font, text size, margins, spacing, headers, footers, and page numbers.

5. Hire and editor.

You want to make sure that when you are submitting your manuscript to a publishing house it is as flawless as possible. It is very distracting for readers when they are evaluating a manuscript when typos, misspellings, unclear POV, and grammatical errors keep popping out at them. Also, if there are factual errors, repeated words and phrases, and characters with changing names, it signals to us that you might not be as serious about this as we are.

To ensure you are sending us your best work, please consider hiring an editing service (copy and content editing) to catch these errors so that your submission is as strong as possible by the time we see it.

5. Learn how to use all the tools in your toolbox.

  1. Get a good dictionary.
  2. Roget’s Thesaurus. Even if you write on a computer, it’s an essential tool.
  3. We use The Chicago Manual of Style. You don’t need to know every single detail, but there are many common conventions that are a must. Most questions can be answered online.
  4. Strunk, William (1918). The Elements of Style is the definitive text and classic manual on the principles of English language read by millions of readers. The 18 main topics are organized under the headings, “Elementary Rules of Usage,” “Elementary Principles of Composition,” “A Few Matters of Form,” “Words and Expressions Commonly Misused,” and “Words Often Misspelled.”Quotes on usage and composition from this book include the oft-heard phrases, “Omit needless words,” and “Use the active voice.”
  5. Koch, Stephen (2003). The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop: A Guide to the Craft of Fiction. There’s no shortage of writing guides available, but Koch’s is especially valuable as it collects the comments and thoughts of such writers as Anthony Trollope, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Stephen King, in addition to his own sage advice. 
  6. Cleaver, Jerry (2002). (Has run the Writer’s Loft in Chicago for nearly 30 years). Immediate Fiction. No one has ever explained the craft of storytelling more clearly or simply.
  7. Maass, Donald (2009). (Top NY agent, teacher, and novelist). The Fire in Fiction. Chapter by chapter, he goes through the problems his agency sees thousands of times a year in almost every submitted manuscript, and in many books that get published, and tells you what to do about them. A fantastic book.
  8. Lukeman, Noah (2002). (Top NY agent). The Plot Thickens. Terrific chapters on characterization, suspense, and conflict, a lot of stuff I’ve never thought of before.
  9. Lyon, Elizabeth (2008). (Freelance editor of vast experience). Manuscript Makeover, Revision Techniques no Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore. A terrific book, much better than the classic by Browne and King, in my opinion.
  10. Bell, James Scott (2004). Plot and Structure. Probably the best book on the topic.
  11. Bell, James Scott (2008). Revision and Self-Editing. Also a great book; a wealth of practical info and examples.
  12. Kress, Nancy (2005). (Multi-award winning SF/fantasy author of more than 20 books, and writing teacher). Characters, Emotion, and Viewpoint.
  13. Vorhaus, John (1994). (Comedy writer, writing teacher). The Comic Toolbox. Not just the best book on comic writing, but better than all the others put together. He demystifies what everyone else makes complicated, and shows simply and briefly how it works.
  14. Sims, Elizabeth (2013). (Lambda Literary Award-winner and contributor for Writer’s Digest). You’ve Got a Book in You: A Stress-Free Guide to Writing the Book of Your Dreams. Elizabeth Sims will take your hand, dispel your worries, and show you how it’s done in this stress-free guide to accomplishing your dream of writing your book.

6. The ultimate tool for your writer’s toolbox.

Read. Good. Books.

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