Please note: The Do-Not Press ceased publishing in 2004. This page is provided simply as an archive reference and any submissions to The Do-Not Press would be wasted.
The first thing to appreciate is that The Do-Not Press is not really on the lookout for new manuscripts. We’re small and the authors we already work with keep us pretty much supplied with all the new material we can handle.
Secondly, The Do-Not Press is ruled in dictatorial fashion by the publisher, Jim Driver. There is often no obvious reason for his decisions and there is no appeal. He knows what he wants and that’s that. People who don’t understand this miss the point of independent publishing. This is not AOL/Time Warner.
Jim Driver is totally prejudiced against certain aspects of our culture – motor cars, football and tabloid-style exposés are high on a pretty long list – and so these subjects are to be avoided. It should also be noted that Driver runs The Do-Not Press pretty much by himself, aided only by a team of freelancers who cover aspects of design, proofing, editing, sales and PR. Unlike other publisher-editors, he doesn’t have the time for long, languid lunches or to catch up on the Booker shortlist. His normal working week consists of six or seven ten- to twelve-hour days. He has to write (mostly reviews and articles on beer, crime fiction and Indian food) to earn a living; The Do-Not Press does not pay him anything. Manuscripts can only be read in spare moments like meal breaks, train/plane journeys and before he collapses into deep slumber at night. He doesn’t have time to fill in questionnaires, or reply to long lists of questions. It can take months (occasionally years) to get an answer out of him, so avoid him or be patient.
The second thing to bear in mind is that he only really welcomes submissions that come through recognised agents. That way there’s a slim chance that the manuscript might possibly be suitable for us. As a general piece of advice for rising authors, if you haven’t got an agent, get one. If you can’t find anyone willing to spend valuable time trying to make a name for you only for you to throw it back in their face further down the line, then you’d be better off sending material to larger publisher. Or just to another publisher. And please… mocking up a letterhead on your computer that says ‘agent’ will not work.
The Do-Not Press only publishes a handful of titles every year – 13 in 2002 (a bumper year!) – so the odds of yours being accepted (even if you do have an agent) are pretty slim. You may be better off saving your postage. To date, only two out of the hundreds and hundreds of manuscripts sent ‘on spec’ by persons unknown to Jim have ever been published by The Do-Not Press. Most that arrive are totally wrong for the list and many of those that are right have to be rejected because there just isn’t room (or money) to publish them. Essential rule of manuscript submission: No matter which publisher you are sending to, always check – preferably by browsing in a good bookshop – whether your work would be suitable. It is a constant source of amazement that this basic advice is often ignored.
Have you ever bought a book published by The Do-Not Press? No, thought not. You’ve got a bit of a cheek expecting us to gamble thousands on your stuff when you can’t be bothered to invest less than a tenner on quality merchandise. Out of sixty-odd books, there must be something you’d like and if not, what’s the point of sending us anything?
Ninety-nine per cent of all authors sending stuff to us have no idea what we do and think that the drivel written about us in the Writers and Artists Yearbook – which doesn’t top the bestseller charts every year by giving authors negative information – is actually true. In the real world our entry would read: ‘Don’t bother’.
For The Do-Not Press, romantic fiction is out, as is anything written for children, businessmen, housewives and bankers. The Do-Not Press does specialise in crime fiction, but almost inevitably of the type hats modern, thought-provoking and on the cutting edge of the genre. Chatty crime-solving vicars are not usually for us, unless they have a drugs problem and a bizarre sexual fetish – and then only one at a time, please. Genres WY rather not get involved in include science fiction, fantasy and horror.
Short stories do not sell, nor does poetry, nor anything in which the main characters are furry animals – and yes we have heard of ‘Watership Down’ but that was in the days of black & white TV and the three-day-week. Incidentally, if you are after an advance and your name isn’t James Ellroy, Ian Rankin, Walter Moseley, Derek Raymond or James Crumley, then you’d be better off not bothering with us. And if those names mean nothing to you, you are probably barking up the wrong tree, anyway.
If you insist on submitting a manuscript or sample chapters, a synopsis is useful, a stamped-addressed return envelope essential. Hand-written manuscripts are too difficult to read, so Donny bother. And it really is best not to telephone to enquire on progress…
Due to the virus situation with PCs and Microsoft files (get a Mac, you suckers!), we are unable to access such files sent over the Internet. If you must send chapters by email, please send them to Harper Collins, Hodder Headline or someone else who may have the time to dredge through their in-files in search of literary masterpieces.
Yes, we know how hard it is for fledgling writers. We wish we could help and be more positive, but we really don’t have time. Jim is far too busy trying to keep The Do-Not Press afloat to worry about your puny problems. Art will out, just maybe not here.
If Jim Driver does turn down your manuscript, chances are it’s because he is a bastard. Experience shows us that it is best to avoid following-up a rejection, but to keep trying other suitable publishers, secure in the knowledge that Jim Driver is an ignorant moron who wouldn’t know a good book if it jumped up and bit him.
Updated August, 2002