De-mystifying the process from submission to publication!
What should I consider when submitting to Avon?
Avon is the home of commercial fiction – which means page-turning, entertaining fiction. Whether it’s historical, crime, thriller or women’s fiction, these books have a ‘hook’ (or elevator pitch) that intrigues the reader, before they’ve even read a word! When you submit, think about the already-published books that your ideal reader would like. If you can, tell us who those authors are, as well as what your hook or pitch is.
The Submittable portal is designed to be easy to use and helps you to make sure you’ve given us all the materials we need to consider your book for publication.
One other key tip: we can only consider complete manuscripts of 60,000 words or more, though we do take part in Twitter pitching events where you can see whether your unwritten ideas spark Avon’s interest. We are open to books by anyone, as long as we see commercial potential.
What happens to my book after I submit?
Once you’ve sent your book to us via Submittable, one of the Avon editors will read it within 12 weeks of submission. We do get a lot of books sent in, so please don’t worry if you don’t hear back at once – but if we take any longer than 12 weeks, feel free to nudge us by sending a follow-up message in Submittable!
If the editor feels your book could be right for the list (which is the group of authors and books we currently publish), they will share it widely among the Avon team and get more feedback. Avon are a hugely collaborative publisher, so we want everyone to feel as passionately about your book as your editor does! If the team feel that your book is a good fit, the editor (who acts as your primary point-of-contact and champion throughout your journey) will get in touch to let you know.
What if I don’t get an offer?
We’re sorry to say that we can only acquire a handful of the books sent to us – we take into account a variety of factors, including how much we enjoy the writing and story, but also whether we have the space to publish your work. Sometimes we already publish an author who writes quite similar books and we feel that we can’t publish you both differently enough to give you both opportunities on our list.
Whilst we can’t offer tailored feedback for everyone, if you don’t get an offer from us we recommend that you seek out ‘beta readers’ (friends or other writers who can help critique your work), or representation from a literary agent, who can give further advice on what work to do on your book, or whether to start a new one.
What can I expect if you make an offer?
When we make an offer, we lay out the financial terms of the arrangement (if there is an advance payment, what your royalties would be, what territories and formats we’d publish in, and how many books we want to sign up) as well as letting you know a brief overview of our publication plans. Because this open-submissions process is for unagented authors, you may well have questions – feel free to ask the editor, or you can get independent advice from societyofauthors.org.
Your editor may also let you know what kind of title and jacket we’d envision for your book – again don’t worry if so; it’s common to change the title, as part of what we bring to the table is our experience with what gets your book into as many readers’ hands as possible.
They will also likely give you a brief overview of the edits they want to work on together once you sign a deal, so that we can get the book as polished as possible ahead of publication.
What will the editing process be like?
Don’t worry – just because you are given edits doesn’t mean we don’t like your book! This is a critical part of the process for virtually every book published by a reputable publishing house, because it’s part of your editor’s job to spot ways your manuscript could be even better.
Edits usually involve a big-picture edit working on the structure and characters, where your editor sends you a document outlining ideas, questions and suggestions. This is a collaboration, so your editor will be available to have a call if you want to brainstorm ideas, or if you’re worried about any of the suggested changes. Once this stage is complete (often taking around a month, though this varies) your editor usually does a closer second edit, going through the text line by line focusing on the more granular detail this time. They will track suggested changes directly onto the document to help you further refine the text, and add comments picking up any remaining plot holes or inconsistencies, as well as to flag new opportunities.
Next, your editor will send your book to a copyeditor – a grammar expert who has the eagle eyes to catch remaining inconsistencies, repetition or timeline issues. This takes a couple of weeks, then you have a couple of weeks to make any changes. Afterwards, your book will be typeset by experts – turning it from a Word document into the text you’ll see on the book’s pages – and then proofread by a separate expert, who is there to catch any last issues.
What will my cover look like?
The cover is one of the essential selling tools for your book – if a book doesn’t look appealing, or tell readers what it is, it’s unlikely to reach a big audience no matter how good the writing and story are. There are cues that tell a reader whether they’re looking at a historical romance or a crime novel, but also more subtle distinctions between, for example, a domestic suspense versus a police procedural. Part of our business is to know all of these and keep track of what covers are working really well in the market.
Your editor will work closely alongside team members from Sales and Marketing to ensure your book has a brilliant title before we brief the design team to create the cover. Avon work with a team of expert designers to make sure every book looks its best and will communicate the right message to a potential reader. We see several versions and sometimes make further tweaks to the winning version before we show you!
Where will my book be available after it publishes?
This depends on a few things – firstly the territories agreed in your contract determine where your book will be available, but as Avon acquire print, ebook and audio rights your book will usually be available in all three formats. Our Sales Manager pitches paperbacks for shelf space in physical retailers (including supermarkets, high street retailers and bookshops), so that they appear in as many of these as possible, though your editor will advise you on the most likely sales channels for your book. We also pitch to digital retailers including Amazon, Apple and Kobo for merchandising and price promotions for your ebook and audio editions, and we provide digital marketing to support these too.
Avon has enjoyed a wide variety of successes for many of our authors – including Sunday Times bestseller status for C.L. Taylor, Katerina Diamond and Scott Mariani, #1 bestsellers in the Audible charts including Helen Fields and Phillipa Ashley, and Mandy Robotham becoming a #1 Globe and Mail bestseller in Canada – plus a huge number of our books have hit the Kindle Top 100 across the world.
We hope this has been a helpful look behind the scenes – please check out our Submissions page if so! And if you want to hear a little more about what it’s like to work with us, check out our author testimonials here.