Aspiring authors, we know that it can be disheartening to look out into the abyss of potential publishing houses and only see the same old phrase, “no unsolicited manuscripts accepted.” These days many of the major publishing houses rely on their ties with literary agents and in-house promotions to find new authors. But don’t despair; today we’ve come up with a list of ten places — from off-the-beaten path publishers to special back doors of the big-name houses — that would welcome your query letter, manuscript or submission.
DAW: If you have crafted a full-length science fiction or fantasy tale, DAW, an imprint of Penguin Group, might be the right home for your story. The publisher is looking for works of 80,000 words or more. They do not expect you to have a literary agent, however, DAW does have specific requirements about how to submit your story. Starting with the condition that you send them a paper copy of the unbound, typed manuscript and a cover letter. (For the rest of the submission requirements, be sure to read the imprint’s entire set of guidelines.) An interesting feature about the submission process at DAW is that it typically lasts about three months and if you include a SASP (self-addressed, stamped postcard) with your submission, the publisher will mail it back to you when the manuscript gets to them. So there's no playing the “what if” game, trying to figure out if DAW ever got your work at all.
Macmillan/Tom Doherty: Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, an arm of the publishing giant Macmillan, is currently accepting submissions of general fiction, mysteries, science fiction, paranormal romance, Young Adult and children's books. The publisher asks for a four-part hardcopy submission packet that includes your book's synopsis, the first 40-60 pages of your story, a cover letter and a SASE so that they can send you a letter with their thoughts about the work. Although they are welcoming many different genres of stories right now, they caution, only send one book proposal per submissions packet. If you send more than one per packet the works will not be considered. Furthermore, the publisher says it takes maximum six months for them to respond to a manuscript they’ve received. If it has been that length of time and you haven’t heard back about your work, you are always welcome to re-submit. See the imprint's complete guidelines here.
Knopf and Crown Childrens: The Alfred A. Knopf and Crown Books for Young Readers at Random House is currently accepting manuscripts at their submissions editor address. They are looking for hard copy manuscripts of novels and children's books, but request that you don’t send along any original artwork. To submit a picture book, they ask for the full manuscript accompanied by a cover letter. If you are sending along a submission for a novel, you should include the first 25 pages of text, a cover letter and a single page story synopsis that includes all of the major plot points. Their submissions process takes approximately six months. You can find more information on their submission requirements here.
Harlequin: If you’ve ever wanted to be a Harlequin author, now is a perfect time to submit your imprint-appropriate work to Kimani Press, Harelquin Teen, Harlequin Historical Undone, Harlequin’s Nocturne Cravings or the publisher’s Nonfiction Editorial line. From mainstream fiction to romantic suspense and beyond, Kimani Press is looking for interesting stories (at 20,000 - 85,000 words) about African-American characters. Harlequin’s Nocturne Cravings and Historical Undone lines are tales published in the e-book format, the former are erotic paranormal stores and the later are sensual historical romances. Nocturne Cravings are approximately 15,000 - 25,000 words in length and Harlequin Historical Undone are about 10,00 - 15,000 words. Both published and aspiring authors can submit their works to these lines. Having an agent is not necessary prerequisite to submission. Harlequin Teen novels are stories about the teen experience and are not necessarily limited to a particular genre. The stories have a typical word count of 50,000 - 100,000 words and are published in the traditional print format. You must have an agent to submit to this line. The publisher’s Nonfiction Editorial line is a good fit for agented and previously published authors who are interested in writing about relationships, memories, health and fitness. There is no word count requirement for a Harlequin Nonfiction Editorial submission. You can learn more about all of these different imprints here.
Zondervan: If you have a inspirational text that you’ve been working on, Zondervan Books may be the perfect home for your story. To get their editors attention, the publisher asks that you post your manuscript to www.Authonomy.com/Christian. At this free online community, editors, authors and Christian resources readers can review book proposals. There the Zondervan editors will both track and review the books in the Christian section of Authonomy that are the most highly ranked. You can learn how to upload your work for Zondervan’s consideration with this pdf.
Entangled Publishing: Entangled Publishing is looking for original tales about triumphs of geekdom, featuring geek protagonists. These stories should run between 20,000 and 40,000 words and have a strong romance included in the plot. That being said, this is not the right place for a story about geeky erotic encounters. The manuscripts that make the cut will be included in an anthology and released in e-book version over the next year. You can find the complete submissions guidelines here. This opportunity will only be available until April 15, 2012.
Pill Hill Press: Pill Hill Press has several openings for publications of various lengths and contents. The publisher is currently looking for tales to fill two anthologies, two quarterlies and a cookbook. If you have an original steampunk short story it might be a good fit for the publisher’s Conquest Through Determination anthology. However, if your inspiration is more of the multi-legged variety, your 4,000 - 10,000 word tale might be a good fit for Bugs! This will be a collection of works from across the genres, with the one connecting thread being the insects included in each tale. The Dark Things Quarterly is open to your works of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and art. If you are submitting a work of fiction, it must be a reprint of your work that was first published in some format by an independent press. Additionally, you must currently control the rights to the piece. If you are submitting a non-fiction work or art, it can be an original or a re-print however it all must be of a dark nature. For the full guidelines, click here. The other two collections that are currently open from Pill Hill Press are an Erotica Quarterly that includes short fiction, poetry, nonfic articles, movie reviews and interviews as well as illustrations and art. On the other hand Roboterotica is only looking for erotic novellas between 1,000 - 5,000 words long that include sexual pairings of couples that are robot/human, robot/robot or robotics involved in the love play. Additionally, Pill Hill Press is also seeking recipes to include in their Delicious Delights: A Family Cookbook.
Dreamspinner Press: If you’ve penned a male/male romance and would like to see it published in 2012, consider Dreamspinner Press’ wide array of open submissions for their anthologies. From historical tales with happy endings to romances with at least one partner over forty, or contemporary tales where nothing seems to go quite right, these are just three of the eight different premises for anthologies that the publishing house is currently looking to fill. Check out all of the options (and opportunities) for having your story included in one of the publisher's anthologies here.
Whiskey Creek Press: If you’ve got stories over 50,000 words in length, Whiskey Creek Press wants to see them. Currently highest priority on their list of genres-to-find are romance, science fiction or fantasy. If the opportunity sounds right to you, you must e-submit the following three pieces of information: one, your complete manuscript, two, a cover letter detailing your manuscript and career experience and three, a business plan discussing how you will promote your story once it is published. For more on exactly what the company is looking for, click here.
Knight Agency: Submitting to a literary agent can be a very important step to getting published. Literary agents are able to submit unsolicited works at many places that are not open to an author who is working alone. With that in mind, we’ve included the Knight Agency in December's round-up of ten places to submit your work. If you feel that your fiction or nonfiction manuscript would be a good fit for the agency (after looking at the types of works that they already represent) you can email a query letter to them. If they solicit other materials from you after that point, you can expect the review process to take between four and twelve weeks. For more information about the process of submitting work to the Knight Agency, you can click here.
Did we miss one of your favorite places to submit work? Let us know in the comments below. For more suggestions of establishments that may be a good fit for your manuscript you can check out our Agents List or our Publishers List. And of course, you can always find author advice, writing tips and more on our Aspiring Authors Page!