The question came up on the group the other day – what mainstream publishers are accepting unsolicited submissions? We were talking about efforts to increase the presence of queer characters in mainstream spec fic, you see, so it was an inevitable question. For the purposes of this group, we’ll only be discussing publishers that are looking for spec fic. Romance is another animal entirely, existing in a parallel dimension (this is not to imply in any way that the enormous romance industry is somehow less in any way – it’s just a different topic with a certain amount of crossover between the dimensional doors.)
Let’s start with a couple of definitions first.
“Unsolicited or open submissions” means that the publisher will consider submissions directly from the author, submissions the publisher did not request and/or are not through an agent. This is good news for those of us without agents. (Look – agents aren’t evil people. They work for the author, striving to get the author a better deal. But if you’re a small fish without much income, giving part of that income to an agent may not make sense for you. Years ago I decided I was A Small Fish Hear Me Roar and any agent who picked me up would need to subsist on packaged ramen and cheap cat food.)
“Mainstream Publishers” refers to traditional publishers in most cases, i.e. those publishers who started out as brick and mortar operations, most of whom have been subsumed into the Big Five scary elder gods of the publishing world. There are several epublishers who are well on their way to being mainstream in their annual income and operations, but for now, we’ll stay with old school and save the epubs for another day. The links below take you to the submissions guidelines for the publishers and I’ve tried to include a relevant author example when I could.
Science Fiction and Fantasy Mainstream Pubs Accepting Submissions:
Daw: (Mercedes Lackey) Takes ONLY Science Fiction and Fantasy, and only accept paper submissions
Baen: (Lois McMaster Bujold) Takes ONLY Science Fiction and Fantasy, accepts both electronic and paper submissions
Tor: (A.M. Dellamonica) Paper submissions only. They accept a wide range of genres, so make certain you submit to the correct department.
Harper Collins: (Ursula LeGuin) Harper Collins in general is not open for submissions. However, Harper Collins Australia takes submissions on Wednesdays only. Just remember it’s Australia, so your Wednesday is not necessarily their Wednesday, depending on where you are.
Pan McMillan: (Clive Barker under St. Martin’s imprint) this is another Australian arm of a larger international company open to submissions on a limited basis. They accept open submissions, listen carefully, the first Monday of every month, 10am-4pm, Sydney, Australia time.
Horror/Paranormal Publishers – many of the above apply, but also:
Arkham House (yes, the Lovecraft one): Paper submissions with synopsis only – the submissions page isn’t specific on guidelines. Best guess would be err on the side of more usual requirements for a 3-5 page synopsis.
Elder Signs Press: not currently open for submissions while they revamp the site, but they normally are.
There are others I’ve missed and I don’t claim this is a complete list by any means, but it’s a place to start. If there’s interest, we can look at some of the non-romance online publishers in a later post as well.