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The Publishing Process


Will you publish my book?

We aim to create opportunities for the best Christian books, and we accept submissions from both new and established authors. Naturally we cannot publish every book submitted to us, and we will need to read the full manuscript before we can make a decision as to whether your book is approved for publication. There is currently no charge for this service. (Note: This describes our usual practice but we reserve the right not to read a submitted manuscript or to enter into discussion concerning our reasons for its rejection.)

How quickly will I know if my manuscript is approved for publication?

This review process typically takes 1-2 weeks, after which we will usually contact you with our decision.

What kinds of manuscripts will you publish?

Our mission is to help Christian authors to get their books published, regardless of the genre of the work. However, our expertise lies primarily in producing the following types of books: biographies / testimonies, children’s books, adult and children’s fiction, Christian teaching and Bible studies, poetry and inspirational works, self-help guides and workbooks. When considering whether to accept a book for publication, we usually focus on the following four criteria: quality, content, publishing requirements and the book market.

How can I submit a manuscript for consideration?

You can send us a manuscript by post, email ( or upload it on this website.

Does the manuscript need to be proofread?

A high quality of writing (grammar, spelling, accuracy, readability etc.) is required in any manuscript we accept for publication. However, the manuscript does not need to be perfect, as we have editors who can proofread and correct the text, as well as propose improvements. A proofread manuscript has a better chance of being approved, but it is not a requirement.

Do you only publish Christian books?

No, but we only publish books consistent with traditional Christian values and beliefs. When customers and retailers buy our products, we want them to rest assured that the content is based on the Bible’s teaching and/or values. This does not mean that your book needs to cover a religious topic, however. It is important to remember that even if we accept a book for publication, we cannot force wholesalers or bookshops to stock it. The book thus passes through a kind of ‘review chain’ before it reaches the customer. We need to feel confident that the book will be widely accepted by the Christian community.

Are other services included in publication, for example illustration?

We have access to a large network of editors, artists, graphic designers, marketing experts, etc. When reviewing a book for publishing, we consider which professionals need to be involved and the cost implications. For example, if you send us a children’s book, it will probably need illustrations. It may be that you do not have an illustrator, or it may be that we do not consider the illustrations to be of sufficient quality for publication. In these cases, we will need to select a professional illustrator whose style is suitable for your book, and factor the cost of the illustrator’s services as well as the expected sales revenue into the decision-making process.

Do you only publish ‘guaranteed sellers’?

Unlike many publishers, we often take risks with books by unknown authors which may not have a guaranteed large market. However, since book publication is costly, we do need to consider for each manuscript the size of the potential market and whether we are the right publisher to meet that market. Sometimes we encounter an author with a good manuscript but with specific ideas concerning the title, cover and/or layout that we feel will prevent the book from reaching the correct market. There is usually room for negotiation, but the bottom line is that we need to feel confident in the products that we present to bookshops, as well as to ensure that our authors are happy with the finished work.

Will you return my manuscript to me?

If you send a hard copy of your manuscript by post and wish it to be returned after considerations, please include a stamped, self-addressed envelope.

The team at Onwards & Upwards have been great to work with and easy to communicate with. It has been a pleasure partnering with them.

Darren Edwards

Church Planter

From the process of electronically submitting my first book through to support post-publication Luke and the team at Onwards and Upwards have been clear and helpful. I was delighted by Luke’s constructive and positive comments in feedback when he received my book and his suggestions for publicity have also been helpful and clear.

David Muskett

Methodist Preacher

fees and royalties

Is there a charge for publication?

No. Typically there is no charge for publication. However, we will often require you to purchase some copies of your book at a discount price, for your own private sales, when the book goes to print. Usually the number is around 200-300, but it depends on the book. If you sell most of these copies, you will already make a profit. There are a number of reasons why we take this approach. Firstly, it encourages you to actively promote your book locally which then makes our national promotions more effective. (We will advise you on how you might generate local publicity.) Secondly, it guarantees us some early sales, which reduces our risk and contributes towards part of our cost of publishing.

What discount will I get if I buy copies of my own book?

This is decided on a case by case basis and will be agreed in your contract, but as a rough guide we might give around 10% discount on the first 250 copies and 50% discount on subsequent copies. Naturally, we can offer higher discounts for very large orders.

What royalty rate can you offer?

Royalty rates are negotiable. However, it is important to note that higher royalty percentages do not necessarily mean higher payouts. A higher royalty percentage means a higher cost per book, which in turn pushes up a book’s retail price and can significantly reduce sales. Your book will compete with many others on the market, so it is unwise to have it sold at a much higher price than other similar titles. Our experience suggests that optimal payouts for our authors are achieved when authors receive an average of 10% royalties for paper book editions and 50% royalties for electronic book editions. This also makes the widest range of distribution channels available for the book.

How are royalties calculated?

Royalties are calculated based on the amount of money we receive from the customer, bookshop or distributor for the sales, taking into account the cost of delivering the book.
Kindle eBook price = £4
Amazon’s distribution charge (30%) = £1.20
Amazon’s delivery charge (internet transfer) = £0.04
Amount paid to us by Amazon = £4 – £1.20 – £0.04 = £2.76
Royalty paid to author = £2.76 * 50% = £1.38
Hardcover purchase on publisher website = £12.99
Delivery paid by customer.
Royalty paid to author = £12.99 * 10% = £1.30
Paperback price, ordered at Waterstones = £9.99
Waterstones’ retailer discount (40%) = £4.00
Cost to publisher of book delivery = £1.19
Royalty paid to author = (£9.99 – £4.00 – £1.19) * 10% = £0.48

What to Expect

Who is responsible for obtaining copyright permissions?

When you sign a publishing contract with us, you guarantee us that you have obtained copyright permission from all relevant copyright holders and that you indemnify us as a publisher in the event of a legal dispute. For a small fee we can contact copyright holders on your behalf, if you wish. However, you are responsible to pay any royalties or licence fees that the copyright holder may demand. (Alternatively you can choose to remove the copyrighted material from your book, of course.)

What will my contract say about copyright permissions?

A typical wording is as follows: “The author guarantees that the work is actually his to sell, not plagiarized, stolen, or already sold to another publisher in the English language. This includes rights for any materials or illustrations in the book that the author didn’t create. The author warranties that the writing does not infringe any copyrights, does not invade right of privacy nor is libelous. The author indemnifies the publisher in event of a legal claim against the publisher.”

What is the editorial process?

When you send us the signed contract, the first editorial stage begins. We have a network of editors with differing areas of expertise. We select the best professionals for each book based on its specific requirements. There may be up to three editors working on your book. Typically the first editor will roughly lay out your book, prepare it for both paper and electronic editions, and correct any mistakes during an initial read. In some cases, the editor may move or remove some paragraphs, especially to improve readability or clarity. The editor will produce a set of questions, comments or requests that will be fed back to you, and you will receive the first edited draft of your book, usually in electronic format. Once you have replied to the questions, the book will undergo a second editorial round. This is usually the point at which possible pictures and maps are added, and final adjustments are made to the text. The contents page will also be updated and possible additional material added, such as endorsements.

How many books will you print?

When you approve the book to go to print, we often begin by printing a single copy. This gives both you and our editors a final opportunity to see the finished product and make any final adjustments necessary. In the first print run, we produce enough copies for you, for our various distributors, for the British library and for sales through our website and direct orders. We have developed a computing system that indicates whenever stocks are running low so that we automatically reprint your book as long as it is in our catalogue.

Will a hardcover edition of my book be on sale?

Probably, yes. Many of our newest books are now available in both paperback and hardcover editions. Hardcover tends to work well as a format when a book is to be promoted as a gift (e.g. photographic books, poetry, inspirational works). It is also appropriate for books that will be read time and time again, giving them a longer shelf life. We produce a hardcover edition of a book when (1) we, as a publisher, feel that the book is most suited to a hardcover format; or (2) there is a customer (or author) demand for at least 10 copies; or (3) there is sufficient evidence that a hardcover edition will sell well through bookshops.

What is the design process?

Our graphic designer will propose a cover design concept that will be attractive in today’s book market and suitable for your book content. You will be shown a low resolution sample of the cover and given the opportunity to approve it for print. If for any reason you are unhappy with the cover design, you will have the opportunity to give feedback, which the designer will then take into consideration when producing the final version. There may be marketing and sales implications in any changes made, which we will explain to you.

Where will my book be distributed?

Companies offering self-publishing services often emphasize that they will list your book in many places. However, having a listing, even on Amazon, rarely results in any sales beyond those obtained through people who know of your title and are specifically looking for it. There are millions of books on sale, and it is extremely difficult to ensure that your book will rise high in search listings, stand out from the crowd and be found by customers. Also, it is very difficult to get a self-published book stocked in bookshops, as bookshops usually purchase from distributors, and distributors usually purchase from traditional publishers.

We use well known, reputable Christian distributors to ensure that our titles are effectively promoted to Christian bookshops across the UK and stocked as widely as possible. As a result, our titles can be found on the shelves of many Christian bookshops. Our bestselling and newest books are stocked by Joining the Dots Distribution and CLC Wholesale for the Christian market, and by Gardners books for the secular market. We also sell through e.g. Amazon UK, Amazon US and Waterstones. In the UK our books are stored at Amazon’s warehouse for fast delivery to customers. Our eBooks are sold in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, much of Europe, Japan, China, Mexico, and India.

Will my book be sold as an eBook too?

Yes, almost certainly! We were one of the first Christian publishers in the UK to sell eBook editions of our titles. Now, the majority of our publications are automatically converted to various eBook formats and sold worldwide. It is very likely that your book will be sold as an eBook. If, however, the nature of the book does not lend itself to an eBook format (e.g. if it requires a very specific page size) then we will discuss this with you when your book is approved for publication. We keep a close eye on the eBook market, in order to find the most profitable channel(s) and platform(s) for sales. We sell directly on Amazon Kindle and KOBO readers. Other eBook channels are provided via Gardners Books, one the UK’s top book wholesalers.

Copyright – Yours and Others’

Will you publish my book?

We aim to create opportunities for the best Christian books, and we accept submissions from both new and established authors. Naturally we cannot publish every book submitted to us, and we will need to read the full manuscript before we can make a decision as to whether your book is approved for publication. There is currently no charge for this service. (Note: This describes our usual practice but we reserve the right not to read a submitted manuscript or to enter into discussion concerning our reasons for its rejection.)

How quickly will I know if my manuscript is approved for publication?

This review process typically takes 1-2 weeks, after which we will usually contact you with our decision.

When do I need to apply for copyright permissions?

Informally, you need to apply for permission when quoting another source unless the author died more than 70 years ago; or you provide academic criticism of a short quote; or the copyright holder has given free permission for anyone to use their work (usually under certain conditions). A more formal answer is provided here:

Can I quote from the Bible?

Most Bible versions allow you to quote verses from their translation so long as you adhere to certain rules. Typical rules include an upper limit on the number of verses you can quote and a limit on what percentage of your book can consist of Bible verses. A few Bible versions require that you apply for written permissions, and you will always need to apply for special permission if your book does not adhere to the standard conditions. To find out whether your use of Bible quotes is allowed, check the copyright notices at the front of your Bible. They usually include instructions. Your book will usually need to include a specific text in the imprint page (usually page 2 in our books).

Can I quote the lyrics of a hymn?

Most old hymns can be quoted without special copyright permissions. The general rule is that if the songwriter died more than seventy years ago then you can quote the song without special permission. We do however recommend that you mention the name of the songwriter, at least in a footnote. Modern worship songs and choruses need special permission in almost every case. If you know a worship song but don’t know who wrote or published it, try typing some of the lyrics into Google. Often the search results will include sites that mention the songwriter or copyright holder.

How do I apply for copyright permission?

Firstly, you need to identify where the quote came from. If you are quoting from a book that you have a copy of, take a look at the copyright permission which is usually printed on one of the first few pages. There you should find details of the publisher. Many publishers these days require that the author signs over copyright permissions in a contract, so it is usually best to contact the publisher first. Failing that, you can try to contact the author. To apply for copyright permission, it first makes sense to look at the publisher’s (or author’s) website. Sometimes they will give instructions concerning how to apply for permission to quote from their books. You might need to fill in a form, either online or printed and sent by post. Failing that, check if the site has a ‘Contact Us’ page. You can usually find a link to this page at the top or bottom of the home page, often in a menu. The page might provide an email address, postal address or web form; any of these are suitable ways to make the initial inquiry. If you know the title of a book that contains a certain quote but cannot remember the author, try entering the title into Amazon’s search box and see if the book is listed there.

Are other services included in publication, for example illustration?What should I write in a copyright permission application?

Write a polite, succinct letter. The following points are worth mentioning: the author (your name); your book’s title; your book’s publisher (Onwards and Upwards Publishers); your book’s expected publication date and how soon you need an answer to your enquiry; your book’s format (usually paperback, hardcover and eBook); the page number in your book containing the quote; the publication you are quoting from, its author and the relevant page number; your book will be distributed internationally.

Does copyright permission cost anything?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no! Some copyright holders will just ask you to include a reference with a specific wording. Others will charge a fee. The publisher may ask further information about your book, such as the size of the initial print run, which can affect the size of the fee. Please contact us with any questions you may be asked.

What if I can’t get copyright permission?

If you fail to obtain copyright permission (for example, if you do not get a response from your enquiry) then we are willing to try to help you. We usually charge a small fee for this service. If in the end copyright permissions cannot be obtained, our recommended action is to remove the quote. Some of our books have the following notice at the front: “Every effort has been made to obtain permission from the relevant copyright holders to quote from other publications. However, we apologise for any possible omissions and will be glad to rectify them in any future edition of this book.” Please note that such a notice does not release you as the author from your legal responsibility to obtain copyright permissions. However, we can add such a notice at your request and discretion.

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Launched in 2008 and registered as a limited company in 2011, Onwards and Upwards Publishers have rapidly grown from a small family business to an acclaimed modern publisher with international distribution and a wide range of books endorsed by some of the leading Christian teachers and ministers in the UK today.

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