Children’s publishers accepting unsolicited manuscripts

Posted on July 21, 2010

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* UPDATED AUGUST 2014*

You can’t get published without an agent, and you can’t get an agent without being published – or so the adage goes.

Thankfully, there are still a few children’s book publishers who are happy to wade through the ‘slush pile’, that teetering tower of manuscripts we imagine fill up a corner of the office, each one representing an agent-less writer who is hoping against hope that they might be plucked from obscurity.

So in the spirit of writerly comradeship here is my current list of writer-friendly children’s fiction publishers in the UK who still accept unsolicited manuscripts.  Check their website guidelines and submit away, but please do correct me if I’ve made any errors or incorrect assumptions.

NB   Where there is a link, I have endeavoured to take you, the linkee, to the submissions guidelines page of the publisher’s website; where that is not possible I have linked to the main website page.

Andersen Press Ltd

Anderson Press publish picture books of approximately 500 words (1K max), juvenile fiction of 3-5K and older fiction of up to 75K.  They require a synopsis and 3 sample chapters, hard copy only, and aim to reply within 2 months.  They use a standard rejection slip and reply promptly.

Bridge House

Bridge House is a small press which specialises in themed anthologies of short stories, often for charity.  They are occasionally closed to submissions but check the website for future anthology details.  May be unsuitable for ‘darker’ material.

Buster Books

An imprint of Michael O’Mara Books, Buster Books publish children’s non-fiction and activity books as well as a small range of fiction.  Submission details are sparse so try the usual three chapters plus synopsis and covering letter/email.  You can submit by post or by email and they ask you to include an envelope if you would like your paper manuscript returned, but they can’t guarantee a response.  Again, probably best to assume the usual procedure and submit elsewhere after three months if you haven’t heard back.

Candy Jar Books

Candy Jar are a small independent publisher with a self publishing arm.  They are looking for children’s fiction for all ages.  Send the first three chapters, synopsis and covering letter by post or using the form provided on the submissions page.  Response time isn’t mentioned.

Child’s Play – NOT CURRENTLY ACCEPTING DUE TO BACKLOG

Child’s Play specialise in quality picture books for age 0-8, sometimes combined with games and toys, for example to make up the popular Story Sacks.  They have companies in the US and Australia.  You should submit by post only with the full text (note length recommendation of max 1,500 words).  Enclose an SAE or indicate that you would like a reply by email.  Note that they recommend simultaneous submissions (sending off to more than one publisher), and that they do not require illustrations with the text.

CoopJackPublishing – ON HOLD

A new venture publishing picture books on the iTunes platform.  Very early days but could be a chance to make your mark on a newly growing market.  Words only but artists can submit their portfolios.

Crooked Cat – current submission window 25-27 April 2014

Crooked Cat is a small UK publisher which accepts, amongst other types of fiction, young adult fiction for its Silver range, up to a maximum of 90,000.  Watch the website for submission windows and only submit at the specified times.  Send a covering letter with brief bio, details of the genre, wordcount, readership and plans for promotion; a 2 page synopsis; and the first 3 chapters (to max of 10K words) in a Word document.

Curious Fox

A new publisher who released their first titles in Spring 2013, Curious Fox are looking for “bold, fun and imaginative” fiction for age 8 upwards, by email submission.  They are also intererested in incorporating innovative approaches such as reader-generated plot turns and delivering content through websites.  Send a synopsis, the first chapter and a covering letter by email only.  They aim to respond within 2 months (I heard back after 10 weeks which is pretty close!).

Dinosaur Books

Dinosaur Books are a small indie publisher looking for exciting fiction for the 6-12 year old readership with a traditional feel – see their wonderfully illustrated Dinoteks books for an example.  They prefer email submissions if possible and you should include a covering letter, a short synopsis of the book and the first three chapters.  They don’t accept picture books at the moment but love author-illustrators.  They aim to reply within three months so if you haven’t heard by then, it’s a no this time round.

Fat Fox

Fat Fox will be publishing their first books in 2014.  They are looking for picture books, young fiction (6-9 approx), fiction (9-12) and young adult (12-14) to produce as high quality paper books and e-books.  Submissions should consist of a good one page covering letter, synopsis, the full text of the book if it is a picture book (no illustrations) and the first three chapters plus final wordcount of longer books.  Send these as Word documents to the email address given on the submissions page.

David Fickling Books – NOT CURRENTLY ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS BUT WILL BE OFFERING A NEW SUBMISSIONS SYSTEM SOON

David Fickling Books publish picture books, and fiction for 5-8 years, 9-12 years, teens and young adults.  They require the first three chapters by post only, and aim to reply within 3 months if they are interested.  If you don’t hear back by then, you have not been successful.

Fledgling Press

This is a Scottish company that focuses on debut authors writing a variety of fiction including YA.  If you’re Scottish too that will help!  You should send three chapters and a short synopsis by email and they aim to reply within 6 weeks.  If accepted your book will be placed on a longlist for possible publication.  Note they do not want sci fi.

Floris Books

This Scottish publisher accepts postal submissions for its Picture Kelpies, and Kelpies range of books for 6-9 and 8-12 year olds.  Books should be between 30 and 60K words.  Note: only approach if you are a Scottish writer or your book has a Scottish setting and/or theme.

Frances Lincoln

Thank you to one of my readers for suggesting this publishing company to add to my list; they publish picture books, young fiction (6-9 years) and novels (9-14 years) and are looking for exceptional writing that really stands out.   You should submit by post to the address provided with an SAE if you want material returned.  Response time varies depending on backlog.

Ghostly Publishing

A new indie founded by a paranormal investigator, no less!  The premise gets even more intriguing as the submission process involves peer review on the site, so you need to register then upload your submission – first three chapters and synopsis – rather than emailing or posting it. Take a look at the site to familiarise yourself with the process.  As you might expect, Ghostly wants fantasy and sci-fi for child to teen readership.

Hogs Back Books

This small publisher specialises in picture books for up to age 10, but also accepts young adult (and non fiction).  Send your manuscript by post or email – full text for picture books, first three chapters and synopsis for young adult.  Paper submissions will not be returned so just include an SAE or email address for a reply.  View the catalogue on the site to get an idea of what they publish.

Hot Key Books

This exciting publisher is looking for novel submissions for aged 9-19.  They accept email submissions and, unusually, ask for the full manuscript plus synopsis (which makes sense for an e-submission).  Submission requirements are fairly sparse but the comments section on the page indicates that they reply in 3-4 months if they are interested.

Little Tiger Press – NO LONGER ACCEPTING UNAGENTED WORK (apart from artwork)

Little Tiger Press publish picture and novelty books up to 750 words for readers up to age 7.  Submissions should be sent by post only, and they offer some useful tips on their submissions page.  They aim to reply within 3 months.

Mantra Lingua

Mantra Lingua is a very specialised publisher providing multilingual and multicultural resources.  They accept picture books for up to age 12 that can be translated into a number of languages – this means the concept and theme needs to be universal too.  Read the submissions guidelines carefully and look at the current titles before proceeding.  Submit by email only.  As the maximum length is 1400 I should think the full text will be acceptable.

Maverick

Maverick publish a range of lively and colourful picture books.  They are looking for quirky, interesting reads with strong storylines.  Note that the maximum length is 800 words and preferably less!  Also no illustrations.  Unlike some picture book publishers they do accept stories in rhyme.  Email submissions are preferred as pdf or Word attachments together with a covering letter or email, but you can also submit by post.

Mogzilla

Mogzilla are an emerging independent publishing company with educational links, specialising in pre-teen and teenage fiction from 45-75K long.  They ask for proposals to be emailed and they will then request the manuscript if they are interested, either by post or in pdf form.  They do not return paper manuscripts.  You should also avoid sending them a historical cat series (see website)!

My Little Big Town – CURRENTLY ACCEPTING POSTAL SUBMISSIONS ONLY

My Little Big Town is the brainchild of author/illustrator Calvin Innes.  Think Aliens Love Underpants rather than Princess Poppy and you’ll be on MLBT’s wavelength.  Submission guidelines are strict so follow them to the letter to get the best chance of being read.  Unusually, you should send the entire manuscript, and you should also print off a covering header sheet which can be downloaded from the website.  Do NOT submit by email!  MLBT accept all sorts of genres and lengths, but looking at their site I would guess that picture books and chapter books (7-9) are the types of manuscripts you should send to this market.

Nosy Crow

Nosy Crow are a young publisher keen to embrace the latest technologies who accept ms for readers up to age 14 (think family-orientated rather than edgy).  They ask for a short synopsis and the first chapter plus a covering letter about you and your work.  They accept by email (preferred) or post and aim to reply within 6 weeks, although this can vary.

O’Brien Press

This Irish publisher accepts picture books of less than 1K words, and fiction for 6+, 8+, 10+ and 13+.  They ask for a synopsis and 2 or 3 sample chapters – full text for picture books – by post only.  Although they state they do not return unsuccessful submissions, they did return mine recently.  Also note that if you do send an SAE don’t use English stamps!

Pants on Fire Press

This US publisher is a small independent keen to expand and explore new areas of technology as well as traditional printing.  They accept submissions from the UK and recently signed Welsh author Craig Jones to a four book deal.  They are currently accepting unsolicited manuscripts for picture, middle grade (equivalent to the 8-12 age readership in the UK) and young adult books.  Send an email with the first three chapters in the body of the email, plus the information they ask for on the submissions page.  Also check out the specific details for middle grade and young adult.

Phoenix Yard Books

This young publisher accepts submissions for readers up to age 12, although they are particularly seeking stories for 7-9 year olds, and comic book style or graphic novels.  (They also take ideas for apps.)  Send a covering letter, synopsis and the first 3 chapters by post or email with an SAE to Emma Langley.  If you do not hear back within 12 weeks you should assume you have been unsuccessful.

Piccadilly Press

Piccadilly Press specialise in contemporary fiction for 6+, 8-12 and 11-15 year olds.  They also publish picture books of between 500 and 1K words (32 pages).  They no longer accept email submissions – send by post your brief covering letter, synopsis and 2 chapters.  They reply promptly, within 6 weeks.

Ransom Publishing Ltd – SUBMISSIONS TEMPORARILY CLOSED

Ransom publish books for reluctant readers, specialising in low reading age/high content age books.  They will consider unsolicited manuscripts and ask you to email in the first instance rather than submit straight away.

Robinswood

Robinswood publish fiction from 3-12 years plus educational material.  They have very specific guidelines on how they prefer you to submit, which you can read by using the link above.  You need to send the information they request on a single email with no attachments and they will reply within 4-6 weeks if they would like to see more.

Scholastic Children’s Books – NOW ONLY ACCEPTING ILLUSTRATIONS

Scholastic publish a wide range of fiction for 5-9, 8-12 and older readers as well as picture books.  They ask for postal submissions of 3 chapters and a covering letter, and say to expect to wait up to 6 months for a response, though I have always found they reply very promptly.  However they did address me as Mr Archambrault on one rejection letter!

Strident

Strident are looking for books for the 7-9, 9-12 and YA age groups.  Do not send the usual submissions package but email with information about your book as outlined on the submissions page on the website.  This should include a blurb you have written yourself (imagine the back of a book – how would the book be described which would make you want to read it?).  They will then contact you in 2 to 3 months if they wish to take your submission further.

Stripes

Stripes are owned by the same company as Little Tiger Press and they publish books for readers aged 6-12.  They accept postal submissions only which should consist of a covering letter, a detailed synopsis and the first 3 chapters.  They aim to reply within 3 months but usually take longer due to their backlog.  I recently received a lovely detailed rejection letter from them apologising for the long delay with some really useful feedback and encouragement.

Tamarind

Part of Random House, Tamarind was set up to redress the balance of ethnicity in children’s literature by promoting books with black, Asian or mixed heritage characters.   They prefer to be approached via an agent but will consider ‘exceptional’ unagented manuscripts; read their submissions guidelines which also suggestions word count and possible subjects  You can submit by post or email and should send them a covering letter/email, a synopsis and the first three chapters.  Picture books can be sent in their entirety without illustrations and you should avoid using animal characters but keep to the ethos in the guidelines.

Tango Books Ltd

Tango publish novelty books for age 1-8 with an international element.  They accept manuscripts by post or email and you should include the full text up to 1000 words and a brief author biography.  You should hear back from them within a month.

Templar Publishing – CURRENTLY ACCEPTING PICTURE BOOKS, NOVELTY BOOKS AND ARTWORK ONLY

Best known for the wonderful ‘ology’ books, Templar also publish picture books and a range of children’s fiction.  They ask for a synopsis and the first 3 chapters, by post only, and aim to reply within 3 months.

Top That! Publishing plc – CURRENTLY NOT ACCEPTING PICTURE BOOKS

Top That! specialise in children’s picture and activity book and internet-linked fiction.  Their submission guidelines are brief and advise you to study their catalogue (on the website) before submitting as they are very specialised.  They prefer email submissions but will accept postal manuscripts with a contact email address (no returns).  Email attachments should be under 1MB.  If you don’t hear back within 8 weeks then you can assume you have been unsuccessful.

Walker Books

A big name in the picture book publishing world, Walker don’t generally accept unsolicited work, but what they will accept is illustrated manuscripts – so if you are a writer/illustrator you have an opportunity to submit.  Use the email address given to send the whole document as an attachment using Word for the text and jpegs or pdfs for the pictures.  You can also submit by post but do not send original pictures, only copies.

Wyvern Publications

This small publisher has closed submissions for the present time as their lists are full, but keep an eye on their site for opportunities to submit to their anthologies.

Short Stories

Alfie Dog Fiction

A small company with big ambitions, Alfie Dog Fiction aims to be the top provider of downloadable short stories on the web, and that includes children’s fiction.  Length is 500-10K words and payment is in royalties.

The Caterpillar

A beautifully presented Irish magazine for children’s short stories, poetry and illustrations.  Email submissions are preferred if possible of fiction up to 1K words or up to 6 poems.

Through the Looking Glass

Another Irish children’s magazine dedicated to literary fiction and quality illustration.  Check the website for the current theme.  Previous issues are available to download free.

Catalogues

When submitting to publishers it is worth looking through their current catalogue to see what they are accepting at the moment.  If you can’t find a link to a catalogue from the main site, try googling the publisher’s name, “catalogue”, pdf and the current year.  I have easily found quite a few catalogues this way.

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