How to Successfully Incorporate Photographs and Images into a Non-Fiction Book

Images often play an important part in non-fiction writing. As well as helping to clarify ideas, add interest, and break up the monotony of endless text, they also infuse diversity and creative energy into non-fiction work.

However, identifying high-quality images in order to illustrate a non-fiction book can be a more challenging task than first anticipated. Finding images with the help of the internet may seem like a relatively straightforward process, but the critical issue of copyright can often lead to an image being unavailable for use: a frustrating discovery for many writers.

To complicate matters even further, an image’s copyright may be held by a number of different rights holders. Most often, this will be the creator of the image: in the case of a painting, for example, this would be the painter themselves; in the case of a photograph, it would be the person who took the image.

Copyright of images can also be held by a third party. For example, Historic Environment Scotland hold the copyright on a wide selection of images created over the last two centuries relating to buildings in Scotland. Getty Images, based in America, likewise hold the copyright to a wide variety of different images. Finding a good picture is only the start; obtaining copyright clearance is often the hardest part of using a picture in a publication.

The easiest way of obtaining copyright clearance is to approach the copyright holder. For large organisations, they may have an existing mechanism for carrying out this process. Smaller organisations, such as local museums, may not have a dedicated way of inquiring about copyright. What is crucial is that you obtain copyright permission for commercial use, as including a picture in a publication is a commercial activity.

Some images are free from copyright restrictions; these are often licensed under what is known as Creative Commons licenses. There are various websites where Creative Commons images can be searched. Again, though, it is essential to ensure that the license is for commercial use. This blog has been a short introduction to a complex subject. There is no doubt that images form a central part of a non-fiction book, adding diversity and increasing the readers’ enjoyment. The most important point to remember is that if you are looking to use images in a book obtaining copyright clearance is all-important.

Pugmill Press Announcement: Hidden Gem Prize Winners

The Pugmill Press Hidden Gem Prizes for 2022 is now complete and we are delighted announce the winners.

After some careful (and heated) discussion here at Pugmill Press, with many high-quality proposals to consider, it has been much harder than we ever expected to choose the final winners in both categories.

We understand that submitting your work is never easy, and always entails some degree of self-exposure, so we would like to sincerely thank everyone who took the time and care to send us their entries. The competition was incredibly fierce.

With that in mind, the Pugmill Press team are delighted to announce that the Essay Prize has been awarded jointly to Julie McKiernan for her essay  Books are the best Weapon  and Robert Todd for his essay Building Traditions and Customs. More about Julie’s work can be found on her website.

We have also chosen to publish eight other outstanding essays to be included in our forthcoming collection, Lost and Found: Hidden Gems from Britain’s Local History, due to be published by Pugmill Press in the not-too-distant future.

Our Synopsis Prize winner is Dr Mark Fryers, with his intriguing proposal East Sussex and the Silver Screen. More details about Mark and his work can be found on his website.  

Thanks again to all entrants for submitting their hidden gems to us!

Behind the Scenes: What We Look for in a Submission

At Pugmill Press, we value out-of-the-box thinking. Unlike other non-fiction publishers, we aren’t afraid to take risks; to explore previously untapped subjects, taking the reader into unchartered territory, to investigate new perspectives.

It is harder than it seems to think of an original way to reach people: whether through style, subject matter, or knowledge, or even all these areas combined, there are always possibilities for exploration and discovery in non-fiction. Pugmill Press seeks to tap into these, and using high-quality images, a careful layout, and attention to detail, we seek to create something new and bold from a place of authenticity and integrity.

Non-fiction does not have to simply be a linear unveiling of facts; it needs to have an extra element, a significant insight, a new take on what it means to be human in an ever-changing world.

When we receive a submission from a potential author, we look to see how their particular subject fits in with this vision; how it changes or enlightens, on some level, our outlook. In short, we require more than just a good idea – each book we produce needs to contribute something towards our sense of space, community, or history, affecting the reader in an unforeseen way. It also needs to be meticulously edited, with careful attention to punctuation and grammar. We know that this is asking a lot, but in return, we will give you the support, encouragement, and reward that you deserve as a writer: it is a partnership, one which we take seriously.

So, we wish any aspiring author good luck, and look forward to receiving even more submissions for the Hidden Gem Prizes! We welcome new entrants for the prizes until the closing date on 22nd March 2022.

Author Event Update: Tune in to BBC Radio Scotland Out of Doors to hear Dr Moses Jenkins talking to Mark Stephens

We are delighted to announce that the author of Scotland’s Tall Chimneys, Dr Moses Jenkins, was invited to speak to Mark Stephens on the well-known, popular BBC Radio Scotland show Out of Doors.

From the site of Cox’s Stack, Dundee, one of the few remaining tall chimneys still standing in Scotland today, Dr Jenkins met with Mark Stephens and delivered a wonderful, insightful account of this historic landmark.

You can listen to the podcast, which is available for one month, by clicking here.

Dr Jenkins has also written fantastic articles for History Scotland magazine and Scottish Islands Explorer, which can be accessed by clicking on the links. He has also delivered an online talk for History Scotland.

The Pugmill Press team certainly enjoyed listening to the podcast – well done, Dr Jenkins! We wish you even more success in the future!

What Constitutes a Fair Share for Authors?

It is entirely reasonable that an author should expect to be paid fairly for their work. One of the most contentious issues in book publishing is centred around the issue of fair payment: what percentage of money made from a book should an author expect to receive?

A Question of Percentages

It goes without saying that there would be no book to publish without the creative input of the author, and in terms of hours spent, it is clearly the author of a book who puts in the most work. However, the question of payment is a surprisingly complicated issue.

There are a lot of different considerations which determine how much an author is paid for their work. When considering the question of a percentage, it is important, firstly, to understand what the author is receiving a percentage of. If we take, as an example, a book which retails for £10.00, this can help illustrate what is meant by a fair percentage.

A fair percentage for an author of a book which sells online or in a bookshop for £10.00 is a somewhat difficult figure to work out. This is because it depends on the terms under which the book is sold. Where a book is sold in a large national book retailer, it is likely that the retailer may be taking as much as 50% of the sale price of that book; where a book is sold through a distributor, this figure can be even higher.

To take this example further, if the book costs, say, £2.00 a copy to print, and a retailer is taking 50% (i.e., £5.00), that leaves only £3.00 to be split between the author and the publisher. With the publisher’s many and varied costs of production, which includes design, editing, typesetting, ISBN registration and other fees, this £3.00 can very quickly be eaten up.

Therefore, where a book is sold through a large retailer it is entirely possible that if the publisher and the author each make £1.00 in profit (i.e., 10% of the retail cost), this works out as a fair division of the small profit made from the book.

How a Book is Sold Makes a Difference

It is important, however, to note that other methods of selling books are likely to yield greater profits for both publisher and author. If the book is sold through the publisher’s website and is priced at £10.00, taking away the £2.00 cost for printing still leaves £8.00 which, allowing for other costs, reduces to, say, £6.00. This could then be split between the publisher and author, giving each £3.00 (30%).

Other models of selling, through online bookshops or smaller independent retailers, are likely to give a profit somewhere between large national retailers and selling through the publisher’s own website.

Our Approach at Pugmill Press

So, what should authors expect in terms of a fair percentage? If a rough average is taken of the various sales channels, somewhere in the region of 20% of the profit from a book is about right. This allows the publisher to make a small profit and covers their costs, but also enables the author to receive enough of the profit of the book to feel rewarded.

Pugmill Press is proud to pay a higher percentage than many other non-fiction publishers. We will always seek to maximise the amount we can pay our authors, as this rewards and recognises their hard work and boosts sales for us as a publisher.

Happy New Year from the Pugmill Press team! We have a dazzling range of exciting new books lined up for 2022 and are looking forward to announcing the winner of our Hidden Gem Prizes towards the end of April.

Remember that the closing date for the competitions are 22nd March 2022. We look forward to receiving your entry!

Where to Stock a Non-Fiction Book

Stocking a non-fiction book requires careful thought. As each book is unique and can focus on specialist subjects, the best places to sell that book can vary widely. Where a non-fiction book is sold largely depends on 2 things: its subject and its level (whether it is written for academics, professionals, or the general public). Keeping this in mind, let’s look at a few options for stocking your non-fiction book.

Independent Bookshops

Independent bookshops are ideal for stocking books on specialist subjects. If your non-fiction book is written on a niche topic, then an independent bookshop may be a good option. Not only is there more flexibility, but there is also the potential to have your book in a good position in terms of display and marketing. However, since there can be limited shelf space, independent bookshops are generally picky about what they choose to stock. Trying to establish a connection before you are published might be a good idea.

Gift Shops at Sites Related to the Subject

This is an excellent way to sell your non-fiction book. Oftentimes, gift shops at various locations are keen to sell informative books which are related to the venue that they serve. This is of particular significance with the tourist industry. For example, a book which discusses industrial heritage may be of interest to museums which explore this subject.

Online Retailers

From specialist online retailers to Waterstones, the online world offers a wealth of opportunities for selling books. However, it can be difficult to get your book noticed when there are millions of titles. One strategy to overcome this obstacle is to have your non-fiction book listed through a specialist website.

There are many other options for stocking your non-fiction book. Understanding the market that you are writing for and establishing connections can be useful when it comes to making this important decision. The publisher you choose should be able to help and will have a suitable plan in place for stocking your book. At Pugmill Press, we have established links to all the above and will work with you to find stockists.

Pugmill Press is currently open to submissions.

Ways to Promote a Non-Fiction Book

Promoting your non-fiction book can seem like a daunting task. At Pugmill Press, we take the promotion of each of our books very seriously. After all, it benefits both writer and publisher to make the book as successful as possible. So, how do you go about doing this? Here are 3 starting points to think about.

Articles and Blogposts

With non-fiction submissions, we look to choose books which have the potential to reach a specialist audience. This means that articles written by the author to promote your book are invaluable in the promotion process: niche magazines, local newsletters, and digital sources of information provide an excellent starting place to tell the world about your latest book. These platforms allow the writer to provide a snippet of what can be found in their book, piquing the readers’ curiosity and encouraging sales. Blogposts and other forms of social media are also an easy yet effective way of marketing your non-fiction book. See our Pugmill Press Blog here.

Short Videos

Making a short video about your non-fiction book fits in nicely with today’s focus on social media as a tool for self-promotion. You can reach a wide audience this way, enlightening them about your unique subject and capturing their interest. At Pugmill Press, we promote videos on our Events and Media page.

Talks, Lectures and Events

Sometimes reaching out to people in person is the best way forward. Promoting your book through delivering lectures, talks, and attending events is an excellent way to form connections, network, and sell books to the people who matter: your readers. Talking to the public and sharing your specialist knowledge and expertise is truly rewarding. It will increase the sales of your book and may even provide inspiration for your next publication!

Today we have explored 3 different ways in which to promote your non-fiction book. However, these are merely starting points. Your publisher should be able to help you every step of the way. After all, it is in everyone’s best interests that your non-fiction book is read and enjoyed by as many people as possible.

Pugmill Press is currently open to submissions.

How to Choose a Non-Fiction Publisher

You’ve finally completed your non-fiction book. Congratulations! Now for the big decision: which publisher do I send my work to? This article explores 3 key things which you might want to consider when submitting your book to a publisher.


It is important to know how your printed book will look and feel; whether it’s printed in colour (or black and white), and to consider the quality of the paper. Printed books, such as those published by Pugmill Press, are about more than the words on the page: the quality of the book is imperative to its success. At Pugmill Press, we use the highest quality of paper, and do not spare any expense when it comes to the presentation and feel of our books in our readers’ hands. We want our valued readers to proudly place our books in their bookshelves, knowing that they are of the highest quality possible.


Let’s discuss another vital consideration: the question of renumeration for your hard work. As an author, you need to make sure that you are being treated fairly. How much will you get per a copy sold? Do not be afraid to pose these questions and more to the publisher to whom you are submitting your work: they should be able to answer you quite clearly, as a reputable non-fiction publisher knows how to take care of the writers’ interests. Try to work out if everyone will receive a fair percentage from the sale of your book: author, publisher, and retailer. At Pugmill Press, we strongly believe in the fair treatment of our writers regarding payment (see our Ethics section). 

Where will my book be stocked?

When thinking of where to stock your book, the shelves of Waterstones may spring to mind. However, Waterstones and Amazon are not everything. If your book is on a specialist subject, you may sell more copies in specialist outlets rather than large retailers. Thinking outside the box when it comes to stocking your book is one of the things that we do here at Pugmill Press.

There are many things to consider when submitting your non-fiction book to a publisher. These are just a few starting points. However, the non-fiction publisher that you choose should be able to answer these questions and support you on your journey to becoming a published author. Good publishers will be delighted to take this journey with you, making it a success for everyone involved.

Pugmill Press is currently open for non-fiction submissions.