About W. R. Woolf

The first time I sent some chapters of my novel to a publisher, I received an answer which was somewhat like:

“Very interesting, please send us the rest.”

Very excited, I sent off the whole manuscript. And of course a SASE because I read on their website they wanted that as well. When I received a letter from them too thin to be my entire manuscript my heart thumped like crazy. I rushed upstairs tore open the envelope and and two copies of a publishing contract fell out.

It was difficult to stop myself from dancing around the room, but I forced myself to sit down and read the letter they sent. Here are some excerpts:

“…found it both an interesting and enjoyable read.”, “…explore the possibilities regarding sales…”, “…forecast for these were looking optimistic…”

Then came a part that confused me:

“…there were certain reservations put forward concerning the fact that this would be the work of a relatively new author…”

Well, yes, I thought, all authors were new at some point.

“… we are not able to offer you a non contributory-based contract.”

All right, I thought, no big deal. I will not mind contributing to the cost, if that means my work will be published. So I flicked through the contract to find out how much money they were talking about. I found it:


Now this might be doable for some people, but I’m a student (University) and do not have much time for a job on the side what with all the studying and writing.

So I had to say no.

Since then I have sent my manuscript to another publisher (who wanted me to pay even more). Then I had difficulty finding publishers who would accept unsolicited manuscripts. So I sent it to two different agents (the first said they thought they were too small to give me proper exposure. The other said it did not match with their other titles. I do not now if that was just their way of saying ‘we do not want it.’ )

The third agent I sent it to was much too long about answering and would not even answer e-mails, so they are ruled out.

Then I found another publisher who also ended up saying no, but at least gave me some very good comments on how to improve my manuscript. These comments gave me a great idea of how I want to change the story, but the change involved a rather major rewrite. So I put that story on hold for a while and began on another novel which I have not finished the story part of. When I’ve done editing it, I’ll send it off to some publishers.

All your support is greatly appreciated.

Remember that you can help me pay the rent by buying my collection Colours and Fragments from

amazon.com here or amazon.co.uk here or as an e-book from smashwords here

Or you can

Thank you for reading 🙂

Updated: 20. March 2013

Leave a comment


  1. I got tired of playing the “author seeking publisher” game, and put my novel on Amazon as an ebook only. If you are a college student and can’t afford the cost of self-publishing, you might want to consider this possibility.

    • I can understand why you got tired, I’m getting there myself 🙂
      But as I said, I would just like to wait for the last agent’s answer before I do anything else…
      Thanks for the advice 🙂

  2. I suppose things in Europe may be different, but in America (as far as I know) If a publisher asks you for money (FOR ANY REASON) then it’s a scam. But good luck with your book either way! I’ll have to find you on Amazon.

    • Asking new authors to contribute to the publishing of their works seems to be a growing trend. The idea is that the publisher don’t have to take as much risk as otherwise with a new author. Also because the author has contributed, they offer a larger royalty percent. (with me it was 40%) So if the book becomes a success, it’s easier for the author to earn back his/her contribution.
      I’m quite sure that this was not a scam since it was a very large and respected publishing house. I even have a couple of books on my shelves with their name on.
      Thank you very much 🙂
      And thank you for reading 🙂

      • First up, thanks for reading and ‘liking’ my blog … pleased to meet’cha 😀 …

        You really only need an agent if you’re planning on publishing with the big Six, … erm Five … erm Four. (changes hourly!) If you do your homework regarding contracts, (there are some great bloggers out there who are able to help) marketing, etc, there’s no need to split your royalties with yet another middle-person.

        next … No, no, no! A Reputable publishing house, large or small, will NOT EVER ask you for money to publish your book. If that happens run, screaming, in the opposite direction!!!

        Vanity presses on the other hand, will ALWAYS ask you for money to publish your book, and not in the most up-front ways either. And with very draconian contracts.

        Even though they’ve come late to the party, ‘large and respected publishing houses’ are also cashing in on the self-pub phenomenon by starting up ‘vanity imprints’, and an unwary author may not even realise it, if they haven’t read, and understood, the fine print.

        There are enough small publishers doing OK these days that an author can choose where to query her/his book without paying for the privilege as well. There are some great resources on the interwebz that’ll steer you towards the kosher ones.

        You’ve already started the Self-publishing route. I’d say, go with a combination of that and a legitimate publisher. The best of both worlds.

      • You’re very welcome and pleased to meet you too 🙂

        You are right, and I’ve never really liked the idea of agents. I prefer direct contact between author and publisher.

        And yes, that is what everyone has kept telling me, so I have been convinced now. I suppose, I just wanted them to be sincere…

        The plan is to get my novel published the traditional way, so I’m already following your suggestion 🙂

        Thank you for taking the time to read all this 🙂

        I hope to see you around.

  3. Hmmm… that is interesting. I’ve never heard of this before. I’ll have to look into it. I’m just very cautious of this as I’ve known people who’ve been scammed by ‘publishers’.

    And your welcome!

  4. Chris Anderson, the author of “The Long Tail”, argues that self-publishing is, for most people, profitless. Nonetheless, he says that such endeavors are still valuable to their authors because “many such noncommercial books are best seen as marketing vehicles meant to enhance the academic reputation of their authors, market their consultancy, earn them speaking fees, or just leave their mark on the world.” I don’t know how many, if any, of those motives is relevant for you, but best of luck whatever route you choose!

    • I don’t mind if I don’t make any money on the first book I publish. But I can’t afford to loose money on it…
      And thank you! 🙂

  5. This is a familar tale, Winona. Personally I got pretty sick and tired of that sort of thing when it happened to me, and I began to believe that the literary world was as full of sharks as the music biz. I felt them circling. So then I plumped for self-publishing. For me it hasn’t been overly successful, but there are now a few people around the world with either my paperbacks on their shelf or my eBooks on their iPad. So for me it worked. And you meet so many nice people (in a cyber way) in the process. Give it a go: Who knows – sometimes publishers actually trawl through the self-publishers to find their next cient! Good luck. Tooty.

    • Thanks for the comment.
      It’s nice to hear a story of success 🙂
      I feel ever more convinced that I’ll go the way of self-publishing.
      And thanks 🙂

  6. Scriptor Obscura

     /  December 23, 2011

    You have won a Versatile Blogger Award! Check it out here: http://scriptorwrites.wordpress.com/2011/12/23/the-versatile-blogger-award/

  7. Nice. Looking forward to reading more. And “Preludes and Nocturnes” is one of my fav Sandman graphic novels (saw it in the upper right of your header) =D

    • Thanks for reading 🙂
      I have all the ‘The Sandman’ graphic novels except two, but the space on my sofa was limited…

  8. You’ve done a lot more than a lot of others…myself included. So consider yourself successful…and continue to strive…never, ever relinquish your dreams…on someone else’s say so.

    hugs for “liking” my post…and just for being…you!… 😉

  9. Thanks for visiting and “liking” my post. It’s good to meet you. Your blog is interesting and very creative. I am a self-publisher who gave up on finding an agent for my book. Self publishing has been a lot of work for me, what with overcoming (sometimes not and shouting “Help!”) technical stuff and finding ways to market my book that I can embrace (no hype). But maybe the only way to successfully market a book is with hype. Haven’t sold much yet, but I’m not giving up. Meanwhile, hang in there and follow your intuition.

    • You’re welcome 🙂
      And thank you for the compliment.
      I think it’s great that you have published your own book. Even though you might not have sold much yet, I think just having it ‘out there’ must be a wonderful feeling 🙂
      I’m going to publish my book this year, with or without an agent.

  10. Scriptor Obscura

     /  January 15, 2012

    You have won a One Lovely Blog Award! Stop by to check it out:

  11. Best of luck with the publishers! Have you thought of selling it as an eBook? To encourage sales, you just have the first book or two free, than slowly up the price for future books depending on feedback and popularity. It’s certainly cheaper than self-publishing, which is at least 2k for a good package. Best of luck whatever you do though!



    • Thank you 🙂
      I think I might very well publish my first novel as an eBook, and then maybe try the publishers again with the second..
      Thank you very much for the encouragement 🙂

  12. Good luck to you, whatever the decision.

  13. Hi Winona,

    Wanted to pop in and thank you for stopping by my blog today and leaving a comment. I really appreciate it. Hope things work out with your book. Margie

  14. Hi Winona!

    Thank you for stopping by my blog. I work in the book industry, and as far as I know its almost definitely a scam to be asked to contribute to the printing of your book. There’s an article under the Publishing Resources page on my blog about ePublishing. If you’re doing it for love, then its great. Do it for that reason, but as for money, well…I think that with time and applications, I know you can get picked up by a publishing house.

    All the best, and keep on writing 🙂

    • Hello 🙂

      Even when it’s Harper Collins? I just find it hard to think that they would make a scam…

      I’d like to live off my writing some day, but not necessarily within the next five years. So If I don’t make any money on my first book, that’s all right for me. I just cannot afford to loose any…

      Thank you very much for the encouraging words 🙂
      And thank you for reading 🙂

  15. As to scams, see Preditors and Editors at pred-ed.com

    • Thanks 🙂
      I can see they have a nice list of publishers too, I’ll spend some more time looking it through…
      Thank you for reading 🙂

  16. I’m a journalism/creative writing student also! Really? You have to pay now?

    I’m too scared to start writing a novel. How hard was it? How long did it take?

    • Some publishers ask for a contribution from the author, but it’s far from all.
      However, it seems to me that most publishers in the UK don’t really take authors seriously unless they have an agent. It could be just me, but that’s the feeling I got when I tried to find a place to send my manuscript.
      Writing a novel is easy. Writing a good novel is very difficult and time consuming. I wrote the first draft of the novel in 25 days during NaNoWriMo. Then I spent about two years rewriting and editing… But I thought it was a very giving process, seeing the rough draft turning into something someone might actually want to read. 🙂 And I feel like I’ve learnt a lot about writing by completing the novel.
      Don’t be scared of writing a novel, but be prepared to spend plenty of time on it if you do 🙂
      I say do it. There’s something very special about having created something as complex as a whole novel 🙂

      • Thanks for the info! I looked into the NaNoWriMo – might have to give it a go 🙂
        I’m a fake finisher – I have half-finished stuff everywhere .
        Thanks for the inspiration and good luck!

      • You’re welcome 🙂
        and good luck! 🙂

  17. The publishing industry is hard to get into, and bestsellers are hard to achieve. Although everybody and their pet dog says this, I highly suggest coming up with a backup plan to support yourself as you try to get your writing published. I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors.
    On a less solemn note, thank you very much for visiting my blog! I’m glad you enjoyed my posts.

    • You’re welcome and thank you for visiting back 😉
      Don’t worry about the backup plan. I’m studying mathematics, so I should be able to find some kind of work when I’m done, even if I don’t get any books published 🙂
      Thank you for reading 🙂

  18. Hey Young Blood,
    Thanks for dropping by to read my silly Yard Sale Report. I’m not sure why I do it except that I am mostly just blown away by people. My father was a well respected author and I think the lesson he left me with was to write from a great height. Know your subject better than anyone.
    If you write about people, then you should travel and meet a huge variety of people. You become a student of the human condition. Successful writing is a byproduct of being deeply involved in something. Don’t give up.

    • Thank you for your encouragement 🙂
      I’ll do my best to study people, but travelling is expensive, so I’m afraid I won’t be able to do that much…
      Thank you for reading! 🙂

  19. Mike is Happy

     /  April 27, 2012

    Thank you for the follow. I’m honored. And I’d love to pick your brain sometime on how I can find an agent and a publisher and a whole lot more talent…

    • I’m not sure I’m the right one to ask concerning agents and publishers considering I haven’t found any willing to publish me yet… But I might be able to share some writing tips which could be useful to you 🙂
      Thank you for reading 🙂

  20. You found a publisher …. wordpress

    • True… But they don’t pay me any royalties… Which means it will be very difficult to make a living off being published by wordpress…
      Thanks for reading 🙂

  21. Well, this has been an interesting thread! I’m writing a novel, and I DO want to make my living as an author (mid-life crisis, you see; absolutely burnt on the business I’ve run for the last 26 years!) It’s good to hear your experience and everyone’s input!
    Thanks for stopping by and liking my post…can’t wait to read more of what you’ve got up your’ sleeve!

    • I’m glad you found it useful 🙂
      I hope you will enjoy what you read and thank you very much for leaving a comment 🙂

  22. Every writer should start here!


    Your stories are intriguing. Don’t forget, they say you are supposed to write a million words before coming into your full powers. Good luck!

  23. Is Woolf your given name or your pen name? If the latter, are you a Virginia fan? Just curious.

    • It’s my pen name 🙂
      I wouldn’t call myself a fan. I’ve only read Mrs Dalloway in its entirety and although I think it has some interesting characters and themes, I don’t really like her writing style…
      I chose “Woolf” for other reasons, but of course I cannot help thinking of Virginia each time I see it.

      Thank you for reading 🙂

  24. Thanks for liking my post! I think it’s great you keep writing. That’s the important thing. Sometimes fate is all about timing. Don’t give up hope. I like how you set up your categories : )

  25. Hi, thanks for stopping by 🙂

  26. Wow. That sure sounds like a scam to me. I’m glad you showed restraint.

    Be patient. Keep writing. You’ll make it.

    • Thanks for the encouragement 🙂
      I’ve begun writing “properly” again now after a summer break, with travel and all that.
      thank you for reading 🙂

  27. Best of luck to you! It’s a tough business to get into.

    As far as I can, in the USA at least, most fiction authors need to have an agent before they can find a publisher. Otherwise those unsolicited mss end up in what one publishing intern friend of mine referred to as the “doomed” slush pile. But this is for traditional, “legacy” publishing houses. My own perception may be completely imperfect, but it seems to me there’s just such an enormous volume of mss out there trying to get noticed that securing the agent is in part a vetting process. Still and all, self-publishing is becoming much more common these days and doesn’t have the same stigma attached to it that it had ten years ago.

    • Thank you very much 🙂

      Just now I am waiting for an answer from a publishing house that does not require an agent,
      so I’ll wait for that, before I try to find an agent again.

      Thank you for reading and following 🙂

  28. Hi, thanks for liking my post. I thought I would pop by to see who you were and in doing so found this great feed following your ongoing efforts with finding a publisher. I have never written anything until recently apart from an e-book which was a diary that got out of hand and now a blog which I am still new to but really enjoy. Best of luck with the publishing side of things and I will be back to check out all the content on here I haven’t look at yet

    • Hello, you’re welcome 🙂
      A diary that got out of hand? That sounds interesting.
      Thank you very much, and you are of course welcome to drop by any time.
      Thank you for reading 🙂

  29. Thank you for the Like on my Fantasy Faucet post. I wish you the very best of luck with your novels. Your perseverance is truly admirable.

  30. If they are asking you for money, they are wrong for you.

    Good luck with the book(s)!

  31. Thanks for liking my post on arnnarn.com I appreciate it very much.

    On your book – keep at it. Authors are a rare breed. Publishers, on the other hand, well… unfortunately, you’re finding out. I went through a similar process before finding the actual publisher of my book. And even that was not without its headaches. Hang in there.

    • You are welcome 🙂
      I thought the idea of switching calenders to make thing happen on time, was very funny.

      Thank you very much for the encouragement and thank you for reading 🙂

  32. My friend, Ellison James, published on createspace.com and since then has gone on to having books available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com. I think getting your book published is: 1/3 creativity, 1/3 tenacity and 1/3 action!

  33. Keep on keepin’ on fellow writer…!!

  34. I have tried all sorts of pub possibilities for 100 cartoon book. Few are set up for image(print only) and the reformatting is beyond my ability. Going to skip publisher and have printer produce 100 @$3.50 which I will sell for $5 plus postage on my blog and through my own ebay or amazon sale account. Then print in increments of 50 if sales pick up. The printer will not manufacture on demand because binder needs minimum production assignment. They all want a fee dep on package you choose. Perhaps skip publisher, use printer and hawk book yourself. Local market has many outlet possibilities. Save self sold sales receipts as significant sales(at least in hundreds) my interest a publisher which gives you a wider universe. Createspace seems great with free service with self upload text, front/back cover but there is always a glitch inherent in the process wherein they get to squeeze money from you anyway.

    • Sounds like a good idea 🙂
      I’ve just published an e-book, but self publishing hard-copy books is too expensive for me.

      Good luck with your cartoon book 🙂

  35. I’m just beginning the process of having my first book published, through a small press publisher with good ties to many outlets. I’ve known her for a while and she’s been asking for a book, so I feel good about her intentions. Plus, she’s had 25 years in the industry. I intend to utilize my syndication opportunities to promote the book in other parts of the country, so I’m fortunate to have a built-in advertising vehicle through newspapers. None of this means I still can’t screw it up 😉 I’ll follow your progress, think good thoughts and cheer you on, W.R.

    • That sounds great, and congratulations with your book. I think just getting it published is a success 🙂

      Thank you very much for your support.

      I’m writing a new novel now which I expect to have finished by June, and I’ve made a collection of short stories which I hope will be available from amazon very soon, so I’m keeping busy, and doing my best 🙂

  36. You’re doing the right thing. Keep on writing, finish your second book, finish the third one, then go back and look at the first one again. Don’t be afraid to pull is apart and reassemble it—if you keep a copy of the original it’s completely painless. You’ll see how much better it is.

    • Thanks for the encouragement 🙂

      Actually, I began writing the second book, because I wanted to edit the first one, but the prospect of making the changes I wanted was so daunting that I thought I would be better off if I put the first one on pause for a while 🙂

  37. Thanks for liking my Baby Death and Skwar Bar post.

  38. Siddhartha

     /  March 8, 2013

    Great work..! Would love to support your cause.. since i’m unemployed right now..can’t make a direct contribution.. but i’ll try to get your message across to as many people as i can..!
    Wishing you Success
    Cheers! 🙂

  39. Persistence! Keep going whether anyone likes your writing, whether they are willing to publish it or not. Rivers don’t cut their way through mountains by force but by persistence. Every single day you are getting closer to the place you want to be.
    Thanks for stopping by my Post!

  40. Good luck we ought to talk off line about this sometime! 🙂 Swap what we’ve learned.

  41. WRW – I don’t care how big the publisher is – if they ask you for money to publish your book – it is a scam. Full stop.

    Do check out the internet and you’ll read what all those “big publishers” are doing – there are even class actions suits against them.

    Please research – save your money!

  42. Amazon will publish either paper back or ebook and they are legitimate. Of course they would also like for you to buy some of their services, but don’t insist on it. Actually if you have half a brain in your head (maybe even less) you won’t need to pay for anything. Just read very carefully and follow the directions. You’ll do just fine.

    • I’ve already published the short story collection Colours and Fragments on amazon. However, I think I would still like to find a publisher for the novel I expect to have finished editing this summer.
      But thanks for the encouragement 🙂
      And thank you for reading. 🙂

  43. Hey there… have you read “APE” (Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur), by Guy Kawasaki? You might find it useful. Cheers, MPJ

  44. cocacolafiend

     /  March 25, 2013

    Oh dear, reading these comments isn’t giving me much confidence. I was thinking of selling my novel (very cheaply) on Amazon as an eBook. I’m not sure if this will be any better than simply posting it chapter by chapter online. I would rather have a few people see it for free than for it to be completely ignored on Amazon’s marketplace.

  45. I can completely understand your frustration. We are trying to publish our humor book on Wackorisms. Publishing is not what it used to be.

    • Unfortunately, I don’t know what publishing used to be, but I think it should be easier to see through the process than it is 🙂
      Good luck with your book and thank you for reading 🙂

  46. Hi Thanks for stopping by my blog…. amazing how many of us there are out here wanting to publish! The important thing is none of us must ever give up or give in!! Keep writing!!

  47. ajaytao2010

     /  April 2, 2013

    Nice reading about you.

    Thanks for visiting my blog Ajaytao2010@wordpress.com. Browse through the category sections, I feel you may definitely find something of your interest.

  48. Thanks for the like!

  49. Unscrupulous publishers… I came across such ones.

  1. An Award! | DumbFunnery

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