For Writers

Submitting to Myrmidon

We are particularly interested in world class literary fiction – both originally written in English and translated work – and popular fiction and non-fiction in all genres that is sufficiently original and engaging to secure the enthusiasm of readers and commitment of booksellers. We do not currently publish children’s books, plays or poetry.

Literary agents, scouts and international publishers

We welcome submissions from all of the above. These can be submitted as hard copy or by email (preferably as a Word doc) and can be sample chapters or whole manuscripts. Please email us to begin with (ed@myrmidonbooks.com) to tell us something about the work and the author. Please also clarify at the outset what publishing rights are to be offered.

We will try to read, assess and give an outcome as soon as we can. Please be patient with us, but also note that we do not expect to consider submissions on an exclusive basis; we understand that you need to do all you can to find a home for your authors’ works and we recognise that if we are dilatory it may prove to be our loss.

Unrepresented writers and authors

About a quarter of our published books came to us directly from unrepresented writers – though several have subsequently secured agents after publication. Providing opportunities for all writers, whether they have an agent or not, is something we believe strongly to be good for the book trade and good for us. But we can only keep this door open if writers are able to observe a few simple guidelines. Some may seem rather severe or unusual, but they are designed to make our submissions handling as low-maintenance as possible so that we can keep this particular door open.

Submissions should be in printed form (we do not accept work by email or fax) and posted to:

Submissions Dept.

Myrmidon Books Ltd.

Rotterdam House

116 Quayside

Newcastle upon Tyne

NE1 3DY

What we would like to see is your initial three chapters and a one-page covering letter telling us something about yourself and your work. A synopsis or structure plan may be useful for a non-fiction proposal, but we do not require a synopsis for fiction submissions and we never read them.

Please note the following:

  • If you do have a literary agent to represent your work and you would like us to consider it, you must ask your agent to approach us. While we are happy to transact directly with agents or with writers without agents, we have found that bypassing agents to deal directly with their authors inevitably leads to confusion and grief for all concerned – so we simply will not do it.
  • Though we will consider everything that comes to us, we cannot respond to all submissions because of the very high volume that we receive. If you have not heard from us within four months, you should assume that your submission has not been successful.
  • We are unable to return material or enter into any correspondence about it. So do not invest in a stamped, addressed envelope and do make sure you have not sent us your only copy.
  • We do not open submissions packages as soon as they arrive, so we will not find any stamped and addressed post cards that might have otherwise confirmed receipt. Again, save yourself the expense.

We do not give feedback – it is not part of our business – but see Getting an Independent Assessment of Your Work below.

Resources for Writers

Basic Items
  • Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, London: A & C Black. The one, essential must-have for anybody seriously intending to make money from writing. This volume provides comprehensive listings of publishers and agents in the UK and overseas, concise and practical articles from established writers and trade professionals covering each critical aspect of the publishing business and a more extensive list of societies’ and associations’ web sites, writing courses, writers’ retreats and research libraries than anything that could be given in these pages.
  • A substantial and authorative English dictionary. Chambers, Collins, Oxford Concise (or Webster’s if you are expecting to write principally for the US market).
  • Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases (Latest edition): Longmans. This is an item that many writers affect to despise and would have you believe they never use. Though they may be somewhat disingenuous, the thesaurus is a tool to be used sparingly. Its value and true purpose is to help you unlock your own vocabulary, to rescue precise words from the mush of memory when the occasion demands. It is not a tool for increasing your word power (only the reading of quality prose will do that). Nor is it for impressing readers and editors with your superior ‘knowledge’ of rare or arcane words (you won’t).
Additionally Useful
  • Fowler’s Modern English Usage (Latest edition), Oxford: O.U.P.
  • Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, London: Cassel. Especially useful to historical writers seeking to purge anachronisms from idiomatic prose and especially from the mouths of their characters.
  • Jonathon Green (l998) The Cassels Dictionary of Slang, London: Cassels.
  • Lynne Truss (2003) Eats Shoots & Leaves, London, Profile Books. An engaging and enjoyable polemic and a concise exposition of the what, how and why of good punctuation.

Books about Writing

The last decade has seen an explosion in books offering guidance on how to be a successful writer. The brief listing that follows is nonetheless somewhat longer than most serious writers need. Sooner or later, successful writers stop reading about the subject and start writing. There are no magic bullets. If you read only one of them, read Stephen King.

Writing Skills
  • Dorothea Brande (1934) Becoming a Writer, London: MacMillan. A classic that has inspired the great and the good over several decades and consequently remains in print.
  • David Michael Kaplan (1997) Re writing: A Creative Approach to Writing Fiction, London: A & C Black. The very best writers re write. This is a sound, practical guide to sharpening up structure, narrative, description and dialogue to inject pace and momentum in your writing.
  • Stephen King (2000) On Writing, London: Hodder Headline. The man ought to know what he is talking about and he does. On Writing is as readable as any of King’s novels. This is a down-to-earth and yet an inspirational book and which defies much conventional wisdom by reminding us that story and plot are not one and the same.
Characters, Plot and Structure
  • Margaret Geraghty (1995) the Novelist’s Guide, London: Piatkus.
  • Christopher Vogler (1992) The Writer’s Journey, London: Pan/MacMillan.
Screenwriting
  • Syd Field (1979) Screenplay, New York: Dell
  • J. Michael Straczynski (1996) The Complete Book of Scriptwriting, London: Titan Books
Research
  • Ann Hoffmann (1996) Research for Writers, London: A & C Black
Getting Published
  • Carole Blake (1999) Everything You Need to Know to Get Your Novel Published, London: MacMillan
Some useful Web Content for Writers

Getting an Independent Assessment of your Work

Once the rejection slips start to arrive it is not uncommon for many writers to ponder whether they have something truly valuable to offer and worth persisting with or are simply wasting their time. Such is the competitive nature of the current market for fiction that the paths of fortitude and folly can be difficult to distinguish and publishers and agents will rarely take the time to share a full and honest appraisal of your work.

A growing number of organisations offer such an evaluation on a commercial basis. Most are professional organisations comprising writers, former agents or editors who will give an honest and independent appraisal of the merits of what you send them and of its commercial viability.

Fees vary both between providers and according to the volume of what you send them. There are usually different rates for a synopsis, for a selected number of chapters or for a full manuscript and premium rates for those seeking a fast turnaround.

Some will give your work a more thorough study and more detailed feedback than others. We would particularly recommend The Literary Consultancy,  Cornerstones and our associates, Border Scripts.  Their websites are: www.literaryconsultancy.co.ukwww.cornerstones.co.uk and www.borderscripts.com.