Creating hope for children, adults and families. #LiftingTheLid


Contributors’ guidelines

If you have a story to tell, we want to hear it. And we’re here to help you tell it.

Your submission doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to pique our interest. To help you, here are some things you can do to bring out the best in your proposal.

Please ensure your submission includes:

  • A synopsis that sums up the whole story you want to tell.
  • A breakdown of your story, chapter-by-chapter. Include a line or two on what each chapter will include.
  • One full chapter.

Please send your submission to us at: We will let you know when we have received it.

We do receive a lot of submissions, so we can’t give you a definite timeframe for letting you know if we’d like to publish your story. But we will get back to you just as soon as we possibly can.

What submissions are we looking for?

The Trigger publishing company is dedicated to supporting sufferers and families with mental health issues. So if you have a story to tell about your own experience of living with mental illness – or the experience of a loved one – let us know.

We are currently accepting submissions for our Inspiration series. These true-life stories will show how people have coped with mental health difficulties and gone on to lead ‘normal’ lives. Our readers aren’t looking for astonishing rags-to-riches tales of sufferers going on to achieve fame, wealth or prestige; they want reality. They want to see that recovery is not only possible, but that it might be within their grasp. That is the kind of inspiration they’re looking for. Can you provide it?

(We are not accepting any other kinds of submissions at this stage.)


Sum up your whole story in a few paragraphs. Tell us how your story starts and ends, and tell us what’s unique about it. Point out some of the key facts or events that your story will cover. Tell us if there are any significant learning points.

We’re looking for great stories, but we’re especially looking for the kinds of stories that haven’t been told before. (Or stories that go in a direction that we might not expect.)

Ideally, your story needs a hook – something that will inspire people to read it. So make sure we understand what makes your story special.


Lots of people have interesting stories to tell, but not everyone’s story will sustain a book. You’ll need to think about how you will structure your story, chapter by chapter.

Help us see that there is mileage in your story; give us a chapter-by-chapter outline with a line or two describing what each chapter is about. This will also help us to see how the story progresses, from beginning to end.

Sample chapter

Write one chapter in full. This will help bring your story to life for us.

Don’t worry! Your sample chapter doesn’t have to be perfect. At this stage, we’re mainly looking to discover your story. It will also be helpful to see how you write. (More on that below.)

General writing tips

Don’t overcomplicate the story you’re telling by cramming too many ideas into one sentence or paragraph. Long, rambling sentences are hard to read. It’s okay to write very short sentences.

It’s likely that your story will skip backwards and forwards in time. Be careful with your tenses so that we can understand whether you’re writing in the past or present tense.

Try and stick to one key idea per paragraph. Even if that makes it a very short paragraph!

Say what you need to say in as many words, or as few words as you need. If you spend too long writing about an insignificant point, it will slow your story down and make it seem bloated. But if you’re writing about one of the key aspects of your story, give it the space to do it justice.

Forget what that teacher told you, it’s fine to start sentences with ‘and’ and ‘but.’ And it’s usually better to use contractions, e.g. we’ve done that because it’s easier to read.

Think about your reader

At every stage of the writing process, you need to think about the person reading your story. Over the course of the book, they’ll get to know you very well, but to begin with, you’ll need to spell out a lot of seemingly obvious things for them, e.g. they don’t know why you were prescribed that medication, or what your sister did that upset you so much.

Your writing needs to interest the reader sentence by sentence, page by page. Try and learn to make a distinction between what is interesting to you, and what is genuinely interesting for them.

If it helps, picture your reader. Make them a little bit cynical and hard-to-please. Imagine that they’re reading what you’ve written. Will it leave them thinking ‘So what?’ Or will it genuinely surprise and engage them?

Grammar and punctuation

We’re not looking for perfect grammar and punctuation at this stage. We can help you get these things right if we work together. But it will obviously help us to appreciate the story you’re telling if it is easy to read; good grammar and punctuation will help.

Let us know if you need any specific advice, but just to get you going, here are a few answers to some commonly asked questions:

Using initial caps

We only use initial caps for proper nouns. Job titles don’t count, e.g. ‘The clinical psychologist came from Manchester.’

We use initial lower case letters for the names of most conditions, and capitals for their acronyms, e.g. autistic spectrum disorder (ASD).

Using British or US English

Our books are written for a worldwide audience, but we mostly use British English. This means using s instead of z in words like realised.

We use single quotes for speech, e.g. ‘What is this book about?’

In some cases, we may use terms that can be more readily understood for a worldwide audience. So if we feel it helps to say elevator instead of lift, we will. (We can make these decisions internally though.)

Your style

A lot of first-time writers tend to get frustrated by the writing process, simply because they think they need to write in an academic style. While we are certainly looking for stories that are well structured, we don’t want a lot of books that sound the same. Our readers don’t want that either. They want to read unique, personal stories that are interesting, engaging and easy to read.

So please, write your story in your voice.

Whose point of view are we getting?

Take a look at our first book, Pulling the Trigger: OCD Anxiety Panic Attacks and Related Depression, and you’ll see that it is written from the point of view of two contributors, Adam Shaw and Dr Lauren Callaghan.

You may want to write your book just from your point of view exclusively, or you may want to include comments or contributions from other people. Both approaches are fine. You may even have other ideas. Just tell us what you think will work best for the story you want to tell.


Inevitably we can’t accept every submission that we receive. It may be that your story isn’t quite right for us at the moment. Or it may be that we already have a book in development that tells a similar story.

If we reject your proposal, we will write to you telling you why. In some cases, we might suggest that you can write a blog for us instead.

Any questions?

Remember – we are actively looking for great stories to tell. So if you have a story we want to share with the world, then we will do everything we can to help you tell it.

If you have any questions, just let us know…

Any size donation, no matter how small, will make a difference to those children, adults and families going through the distress caused by mental health issues.

© 2017 - The Shaw Mind Foundation - We're a registered charity in England (no. 1167947), and a registered company (no. 09921207) in the UK.

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