WHILE WE DO ACCEPT UNSOLICITED SUBMISSIONS and eventually get around to reading all of them, we are inundated with manuscripts and are working with limited staff and resources. Please be aware that it can take six months or more for us to evaluate unsolicited submissions, as we have to devote most of our time to the books and authors we're already committed to publishing.
That said, here are a few tips for catching our attention:
1 Know what we don't publish. Right now this includes science fiction, cookbooks, romance, and children's books. Our poetry list is also full for the foreseeable future because we are booked up for the next several years.
2 Query first. Sending us a short letter or e-mail describing your book, rather than a complete manuscript, will save everyone involved a lot of time. If we're not interested, we can tell you so immediately, and if we are interested, your manuscript will go to the top of the pile when it comes in. It's that simple.
3 Get published somewhere else. We love new authors, but some sort of track record helps a lot. If you've finished a brilliant novel and have never been published anywhere else, keep your shirt on and start sending short stories or excerpts to literary magazines; most of them accept unpublished authors, and we'll look a lot more closely at authors who have been in print before. (If you have a truly stunning non-fiction proposal, however, you might be able to bypass this step.)
4 Write something good. It's harder than it sounds and, of course, impossible to define. We can tell you we're looking for compelling stories, beautiful writing, unique perspectives and fresh voices, but that probably doesn't help you much. Still, it's worth saying. Before you put your manuscript in an envelope, ask yourself if it really says something new (or something old in a new way). Be honest. Even an editor who loves your book will think parts of it need work—that's our job—so don't trust anyone who tells you your writing is beyond reproach.
5 Know what we do publish. We're now actively seeking commercial and creative non-fiction on a wide range of subjects such as business / personal finance; gay and lesbian studies; black canadian studies among others. Check out the books we've published in the past couple of seasons to get a feel for our tastes.
Finally, you've heard it a million times before, but
• send an SASE big enough for your manuscript, or send a note telling us to recycle it if you don't need it back and send a little SASE for a reply;
• send IRCs (International Reply Coupons) rather than foreign stamps if you're from outside Canada;
• include your address and phone number on the manuscript;
• let us know if it's a multiple submission;
• please be patient while you wait for a reply, but do feel free to Contact Us if you've waited longer than six months.
Good luck and thanks for your interest in Insomniac Press.