Nothing says a broken dream like an unpublished novel.
Every day millions of stories get published, printed or read. But there’s a bigger pile of stories, poems, novels and short stories being rejected.
Is it because they are written poorly? Or is it because they don’t have anything new to say? It could also be because they are predictable.
One of the major reasons books go into the reject pile is writers end up choosing the wrong publisher. By wrong we don’t necessarily mean the publisher is at fault, but it’s like any relationship- the publisher and the writer have to complete each other.
If you have a story specific to the millennial generation, you are better off choosing a publisher who is aware of the marketing strategies and knows how to target them effectively.
Often writers with the best stories and ideas get neglected because they approach a publisher who doesn’t know what to do with them.
To make things easier for you, we have compiled a list of 21 top UK publishers accepting unsolicited manuscripts.
Recently launched in 2017, this newly minted publishing house is focused on finding good, fresh, and quality fiction for readers. The founder Louise Boland is new to the publishing industry but brings a certain unseen and unheard of perspective to the business. Based in Oxford, the team at Fairlight is committed to creating a community of engaged readers and brilliant authors. Knowing that it can be difficult for even the most passionate reader to keep buying novels or books, they have come up with an innovative solution. Through Fairlight Shorts, readers can access some of the best, intriguing, and interesting short stories written by talented authors. The stories are available for free on their portal and are a way to promote the revival of short stories in literature. The company publishes short stories, novels, and novellas. Writers of short stories do not get paid as they are offered free of cost to readers and viewers. Authors of novellas and novels get paid since they are published and sold traditionally.
As of now, the company is only open to submissions for novels and novellas (between 25,000 to 50,000 words). While sending your work, you need to specify whether it is a literary submission or longer fiction. For longer fiction, you should only send the first 10,000 words of your book with a brief query letter and a short synopsis of your work. Submissions can either be posted or emailed here. You can read the submission guidelines and find the contact details on this page.
Chris McVeigh has been in the publishing industry for almost 25 years. He felt it was time to start his own company and founded Fahrenheit Press. Standing out from the conventional and traditional presses, this company is definitely not for your typical author. Popularly known as ‘hot punk’ publishers, they have managed to combine their irreverence with smart business ideas. The press knows the importance of giving beginners and new authors a fighting chance. That’s why their submission policy is open to everybody. They only publish crime and thrillers. You can read their submission guidelines before sending a manuscript. You will have to send them your material via email.
3. Copy Press
An independent press based in London, Copy Press champions the cause of offering newbie authors an opportunity to showcase their literary merit. The company isn’t limited to a specific genre and they are have consistently published unique, engaging, and informative titles in fiction and non-fiction. Some of their notable titles include Blissful Islands by Vit Hopley, Days of Surrender by Jaki Irvine, and Pure Means: Writing, Photographs and An Insurrection of Being by Yve Lomax. Copy Press is currently open to submissions for their Common Intellectuals and Paraclete series. For the former series, they are seeking short and succinct titles of around 100 pages (20,000 words). For the Paraclete series, they are seeking longer works with a bold and unconventional narrative structure and a gripping storyline. Submissions can be emailed with a brief covering letter, a description of the project, and a short author bio. Authors are also encouraged to include their full manuscript or a sample chapter (whichever appropriate). Detailed submission guidelines can be found here.
A small publisher in London, Strange Attractor is a publisher of the strange, the unique and the unpopular (their word). By small, we mean it is only a 2 person team who believe and champion the works by innovative authors. Started in 2003 by Mark Pilkington and Jamie Sutcliffe, this company believes in collaborating with authors to help share their story. Focusing only on ground-breaking works, research that has never been published before, they are distributed via MIT Press. While they do not print fiction, if your story is surreal or strange and deals with the supernatural, they may be interested. Submissions can be emailed with a brief summary of your book (not more than 800 words) and an individual breakdown of the chapters (if available). Read the submission guidelines here before submitting your manuscript.
5. Seren Books
One of Wales’ most famous and experienced publishers accepting unsolicited manuscripts, Seren Books was started in 1981 in Bridgend. Aiming to reach international audiences with local stories, they have managed to find and publish interesting stories by first time authors. The genres they print include fiction, poems, short story collections, travel, classics, history, memoirs, drama and sport. While they accept unsolicited manuscripts for poetry and non-fiction, there are certain stipulations.
Fiction is not being accepted unless you have been published by Seren Books before. For poets, you can only submit manuscripts if you have been previously published in literary journals. Authors can send their manuscript and a brief cover letter to get their works reviewed by the press. Seren Books is currently accepting short stories from all writers and authors. Manuscripts for short stories can be emailed here. If your short story gets selected, you will receive a fee for the same and it gets published on their website. Non-fiction submissions can be emailed to Mick Felton with a brief proposal (around 3 to 4 pages). Your proposal should include a brief author bio, book title, chapter outline, information about illustrations, and details about the market and competing titles. You can read the guidelines here.
Established by Alice Curry, Lantana Publishing has always been keen to publish titles from underrepresented and diverse authors. So, if you think your titles did not receive their due credit, this company might just be the right publishing house for you. Based in Oxford, Lantana Publishing already has published multiple titles for early readers and young adults. Although picture books continue to be their focus, they also publish fiction titles for early readers and middle graders. Occasionally, the company might also consider narrative non-fiction and poetry titles if they are well-written, engaging, and truly inclusive. Notable titles include I am Brown by Ashok Banker, Oscar Seeks a Friend by Pawel Pawlak, and You’re Safe With Me by Chitra Soundar and Poonam Mistry. Lantana Publishing is currently open to submissions in multiple categories and you can email them your manuscript with a brief covering letter. More details about the submission guidelines can be found on this page.
Formed in 1976, this is a part of the Quarto Publishing Group, a popular publishing group in many countries. Writers can expect experience, confidence and the best of marketing, distributing and promoting services if they choose Quarto. They only print non-fiction, lifestyle, sports, health and children’s books. Five Imprints fall under Quarto UK namely- Aurum Press, Frances Lincoln, Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, Jacqui Small and Wide-Eyed Editions. Based in London, they accept unsolicited manuscripts from new writers and authors. You can read the extensive submission guidelines here.
Decisively staying away from mainstream stories and ideas, Ayebia is an independent publisher started in 2003 by Becky Nana Ayebia Clarke. She was later awarded the Honorary MBE by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in 2011 for publishing. Writers looking to reach bigger audiences and get an experienced independent publisher to support them can approach Ayebia in Oxfordshire. Ayebia also seeks to publish stories about the African and Caribbean way of life. Feminism, fiction, literature, essays and memoirs are some genres they prefer. You can email your book proposals to the company with a short book synopsis, author bio, and a brief covering letter. Writers can find submission and contact details here.
An independent publisher with nearly three decades of publishing experience, Woodfield Publishing is a small but committed company. They have a very specific niche of military, military fiction, military history, books about aircraft and aviation, Africa, Scotland and military humor. Located in West Sussex, you can send your manuscript for appraisal to them. Manuscripts can be emailed here with your full name, book title, book length, details about target readership, and a short author bio. Read the guidelines carefully before sending your proposal.
10. Epoque Press
With offices in Brighton, Dublin, and New York, Epoque Press is committed to collaborate with fresh, new talent. That is why, they are always on the lookout of talented, young authors who are striving to secure and establish a reputed position in the publishing industry. The company primarily publishes literary fiction and are especially fond of titles that are inspiring, captivating, and thought-provoking. To support the cause of promoting new authors, Epoque Press has also launched an e-zine that features diverse works of art including (but not limited to) literary texts like short stories and poetries, short films, graphic novels, artwork, illustrations, and more.
Some of their popular titles include Upperdown by David Brennan, The Wooden Hill by Jamie Guiney, and The Groundsmen by Lynn Buckle. Being an inclusive publishing house, Epoque Press has an open submissions policy and right now they are seeking titles in literary fiction across all genres. The company is keen to collaborate with both new and experienced authors for their novels, novellas, and short stories. Note that they aren’t seeking poetry titles at the moment. General submissions can be emailed here, with the book title, author name, and the full manuscript (in either MS word or PDF format). Detailed submission guidelines can be found here.
If you are keen to collaborate with a team of avid readers, Hoperoad Publishing is your go-to publishing house. Established by Rosemarie Hudson in 2010, this company has time and again promoted first-time authors for their outstanding works in general and YA fiction. Hoperoad Publishing is based in London and the company primarily publishes works from African, Asian, and Caribbean authors with diverse themes like exploring one’s identity, dealing with cultural typecasting, grappling with different disabilities, and more. Over the years, Hoperoad Publishing has launched several award-winning authors and some of their notable titles include The Coffer Dams by Kamala Markandaya, It Was an Accident by Jeremy Cameron, and Being Me by Peter Kalu. Hoperoad Publishing is currently open to submissions in general and young adult fiction. Authors can either send their submissions via post or email with three sample chapters and a short author bio. Check this page for more information about the submission policies.
12. Hurst Publishers
Having been in the publishing business for 50 years, Hurst Publishers have become a name to reckon with. Printing 90 books annually, they accept a wide range of genres from art, travel, sport to war. Started by Christopher Hurst in London in 1969, the aim of Hurst Publishers was to find diverse writing and they remain committed to it even today. They accept unsolicited manuscripts in non-fiction and submissions can be emailed here with a short book synopsis (around 1,500 words), your CV, list of previous publications, chapter titles or contents page, details about competing titles, details of illustrations and tables to be included in the book, proposed book length, and proposed date of completion. Detailed submission guidelines can be found here.
13. Linen Press
Based in London, Linen Press prides itself in being one of the biggest women-centric independent publishers across UK. The company was established by Lynn Mitchell when she attempted to publish the memoir of Marjorie Wilson, which, at that point, was rejected by several leading UK-based publishing houses. With Mitchell’s efforts, Wilson’s memoir Childhood’s Hill turned out to be a staggering success and thus began the journey of Mitchell’s independent publishing company, Linen Press. Over the last decade, this publishing house has produced several remarkable titles like A Roll of the Dice by Mona Dash, Sometimes a River Song by Avril Joy, In the Blink of an Eye by Ali Bacon. Linen Press is currently open to submissions and they are seeking literary fiction, contemporary fiction, memoirs, biographies, short stories, and women-specific non-fiction from both budding and established authors. Submissions can be emailed here. You can also check out their detailed submission guidelines on this page.
14. Birlinn Limited
Based in Edinburgh, Birlinn Limited was established in 1992 to preserve and promote quality works in fiction and non-fiction. The company is known for their inclusive outlook and over the years they have worked with both new and established talent. Birlinn Limited has multiple imprints like Polygon, BC Books, Arena Spot, and John Donald and they are constantly looking to explore new and unconventional genres. Some of the popular titles from this company are Black Camp 21: Where Hell Freezes Over by Bill Jones, Ardnish: A Novel by Angus Macdonald, and The Dancing Floor by John Buchan. Birlinn Limited is currently open to submissions and they are accepting fiction, non-fiction, and poetry titles via post. The company also explicitly states that they are not looking for romantic fiction, science fiction, or short stories at the moment. Submissions can be posted with a short synopsis, three sample chapters, and a brief author bio. Contact details and information about the submission policies can be found on this page.
Peepal Tree Press is an independent publishing house based in Leeds, UK. The company specializes in publishing international titles with an emphasis on Caribbean and Black British experiences. Peepal Tree Press has consistently recognized quality works in literature, and they have always published books that are both thought provoking and timeless. Some of their notable works include The Undiscovered Country by Andre Bagoo, The Murders Of Boysie Singh by Derek Bickerton, and Ghosts by Curdella Forbes. Peepal Tree Press is currently open to submissions in multiple categories, and you can send your work after reading the detailed submission guidelines here.
16. Joffe Books
Jasper Joffe is a writer, which has enabled him to have a unique perspective as a publisher. Aware of the expectations of a first time writer, Jasper Joffe has created Joffe Books to work closely with the writer in a creative partnership. They sell a book nearly every 12 seconds which is really impressive considering they started off as a micro publisher few years ago. Using digital books to expand readership and titles, Joffe Books combines innovation with creative storytelling. They prefer fiction, crime, thriller and mystery genre wise. Joffe Books also considers women’s fiction, historical fiction, and romance novels. Submissions can be emailed here with your full length manuscript (in .doc or pdf format), a short book synopsis, and an author bio. First- time authors can consider sending their manuscript to the London based publisher after reading the instructions here.
17. Agora Books
The publishing wing of Peters Fraser + Dunlop Literary Agency, Agora Books was established in 2015. Previously known as Ipso Books, the company champions good storytelling. Agora Books accepts both fiction and non-fiction as long as they are well-written and engaging. Unlike many contemporary publishers, they also accept selected classics. Popular titles include All Your Little Lies by Marianne Holmes, The Caldwell Girls by Rowena Summers, and Left Handed Death by Richard Hull. As of now Agora Books is accepting fiction titles and they are especially interested in suspense-driven novels, gripping family dramas, inspiring up lit fiction, and compelling historical fiction. Unfortunately, they are not accepting non-fiction, novellas, poetry, children’s fiction, young adult fiction, and essays at this time. Submissions can be emailed with the first three chapters (or 50 pages) and a short book synopsis. Detailed submission guidelines can be found here.
18. Floris Books
Floris Books is an independent publisher based in Edinburgh, Scotland. The company specialize in adult non-fiction and children’s books. In non-fiction, they publish works in multiple genres spanning across holistic health, mind body and spirit, religion, spirituality, philosophies of human life, parenting, and more. In children’s books, they specialize in board books, picture books, translated titles, and classics. Notable works include Global Hive: What The Bee Crisis Teaches Us About Building a Sustainable World by Horst Kornberger, Gardening as a Sacred Art by Jeremy Naydler, and The Night Walk by Marie Dorléans. The company is currently open to submissions in multiple categories. More details about the submission guidelines can be found here.
19. Handheld Press
Kate Macdonald has been a writer, editor, reviewer, lecturer, and historian. Through her career she has worked with several authors and writers. Her experience as an editor gave her the skills to become a publisher. She launched Handheld Press to publish and print the unique, empowering, and layered books she has always wanted to work on. She gets to work on stories from the get go and take them to their final stage. It allows her to nurture and guide new, promising, and debut writers. As of now, the company is accepting unsolicited submissions for Handheld Classics and Handheld Research. If you wish to submit a manuscript, read their guidelines here.
An independent publisher printing books in education, learning, management and skills, Crown House Publishing in Carmarthen has won awards for its commitment to publishing. Using books to provide teaching aids and educational tools for teachers, kids and parents, they won the Independent Publishing Gold Education Publisher of the Year Award in 2014. Writers need to email a brief book proposal (around 300 words) before submitting a manuscript. Find contact details on this page.
A part of the Scottish publishing industry since 1999, Black & White Publishing has become a leader in its field. Campbell Brown and Alison McBride started Black &White Publishing with the intent of providing great literature and sharing stories with readers across the world. The topics they prefer are fiction, children’s books, young adult and non-fiction. They operate two Imprints- Itchy Coo and Broons Books. They do not accept poetry or short stories. Unfortunately, Black & White Publishing is not accepting unsolicited fiction submissions at the moment. They are, however, open to unsolicited non-fiction submissions in popular genres like lifestyle, humour, nature, wild places, and food/cooking. The company is also accepting celebrity memoirs, sports books (with a special emphasis on UK and Ireland), Scottish non-fiction, and Irish non-fiction. Non-fiction submissions can be emailed with a short proposal (around one page), a brief author bio, and a short book summary. Send your manuscripts to this Edinburgh based publisher after reading the guidelines on this page.
That’s our list of 21 top UK publishers accepting unsolicited manuscripts. Writers should remember to be persistent and do your research before choosing a publisher. Know your audience, evaluate your competition and send a well-crafted pitch letter to stand out from the crowd. You may get rejected but the key is to believe in yourself and your work. There is a publisher in the list for you and we are certain you will find them.
Are you a book publisher in the UK that accepts unsolicited manuscripts? Please introduce your organisation in the comments box below.
Are you an author who knows of other UK publishing companies that accept unsolicited manuscripts? Please let us know who they are!
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21 Top UK Publishers that accept Unsolicited Manuscripts is an article from Writing Tips Oasis.
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Shikha Pandey is a creative, content and script writer based in Mumbai, India.