Getting Published

Read about manuscript submissions, ISBNs, copyright, children’s books and other information on getting published in Alberta.

What is a book publisher?

A publisher takes a creative work from a writer called a manuscript and prepares it for publication. This process involves editing, design, printing and binding, sales and distribution. In traditional book publishing the author is paid a royalty, a percentage of the selling price of the book for every copy sold.

A publisher is not a printer and a printer is not a publisher. Publishers work with printers to produce books, but usually do not own their own printing facilities.

How does an author submit a manuscript to a publisher?

See our Member Directory for a list of Alberta publishers. A number post submission guidelines on their websites. Read these carefully before approaching a publisher.

Contact the publisher first to see it he or she is accepting manuscripts for possible publication. Publishers often specialize in particular types of books and may not be interested in the type of work you would like to submit. Others may not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

A publisher may ask you to submit an entire book or perhaps an outline and several sample chapters. Always include a covering letter with a description of the work and the background and qualifications of the author. Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope for the possible return of the manuscript.

You may be asked to submit your material on paper (typed, double spaced) or in electronic form. Always submit copies of the material and art work: never send your only copy.

Publishers may take several weeks to review your work. Ask them for an estimated time and contact them again if you have not heard from them after that time has elapsed.

Where can I get information on children’s books?

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre provides information and services for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, writers, illustrators, and children. The website contains a lot of information about children’s books in Canada. The Centre offers a membership package which includes a newsletter and a comprehensive guide to the year’s best books, recordings etc.

How do I learn about ISBN and catalogue information?

The Government of Canada’s National Library of Canada provides excellent information and assistance to publishers and the public. Their Canadian ISBN Service System (CISS) offers integrated services, from the receipt of publisher registration forms through to the management of ISBN blocks and the creation of ISBN activity reports.

Where do I find information about copyright?

The Canadian Intellectual Property Office provides a useful guide on Copyright in Canada.

What kind of funding is available for writers and publishers?

There are three main sources of government funding for both writers and publishers:

The Alberta Foundation for the Arts (Writers Only)
Alberta Media Fund (Publishers Only)
The Canada Council for the Arts
Canadian Heritage

Are there any learning institutions that offer studies in publishing?

The Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing at Simon Fraser University’s Harbourfront Campus offers a Master of Publishing Program and numerous Summer Publishing Workshops. The Centre has an excellent reputation.

The Humber College Creative Book Publishing program combines creativity and entrepreneurship with the opportunity to specialize in literary agenting/rights management and publishing technology. Taught by working professionals, and visited by industry gurus and established writers, students of this program regularly make valuable contacts.

Toronto Metropolitan University’s Chang School offers a Certificate in Publishing through in person and distance learning. The program provides a full range of courses covering the latest in print and digital publishing, including industry sector overviews, skills-based training, and specialized topics.