Nothing says a broken dream like an unpublished novel.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.
There is a reason this organisation makes it to the top of our list of publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts. Kamila Shamsie recently challenged UK Publishers to have a Year of Publishing in 2018 dedicated to publishing only women. This challenge had received mixed reviews. But And Other Stories has taken up the challenge with gusto. They are accepting only women authors in 2018. While some may argue that women don’t need any special help, there has been a history of male authors being nominated more often and winning and getting chances more easily compared to their female counterparts. A boutique publishing house in Sheffield, England, And Other Stories was started by Stefan Tobler because he found the lack of great books in English. Seeking contemporary challenging fiction, you can find submission details and guidelines here.
2. Alma Books
Alessandro Gallenzi and Elisabetta Minervini established Alma Books in 2005 as a publisher choosing quality until quantity. They are keen on discovering new talents. Alma Books has the following imprints: Alma Books, Alma Classics, Overture, Calder Publications and Herla. If you get published at Alma, you’ll have Nobel Prize Winners and international award winning authors for company. Alma Books was named as Independent Publisher of the Year in 2013 at the Bookseller Industry Awards. Located in Richmond, Alma Books accepts unsolicited manuscripts from authors only based in UK. They prefer fiction and non-fiction with a historic bent and expect you to be with familiar with their other works before submitting your manuscript.
Launched in 2000 by Zander Wedderburn, Fledgling Press is true to its name and has had nearly two decades of experience of promoting and publishing fresh authors. Based in Edinburgh, they try to find Scottish authors or stories revolving around the region and culture, but they also don’t hesitate to print a new voice from another country. They have worked tirelessly to keep publishing up to date with technology and partnered with Faber Factory for printing e-books and distributing them. They accept fiction and non-fiction stories with a twist, or unique perspective and don’t accept science fiction or children’s stories. Read more about their submission guidelines in detail on this page.
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 groundbreaking 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. 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, fiction and non-fiction, there are certain stipulations like being previously published or being published with Seren. You can read the guidelines here.
Very few independent publishers believe in looking for inspiring voices, fresh talent and unique perspective. Penned in the Margins formed in 2006 is one of the few publishers who does all of that. Choosing to print poetry, spoken word and something different, their previous authors have gone on to become playwrights, writers and poets of renown. The publisher has won multiple awards including being shortlisted for the Clarissa Luard Award for Independent Publishers 2017. They are an exclusive publishing house in London and have only published 75 books till date. Submit your manuscript if your story is risk-taking in the genres of poetry, spoken word and non-fiction. Read the guidelines before sending a proposal.
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. 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. Read the guidelines carefully before sending your proposal.
Nine Arches Press was started in 2008 to seek new authors to write poems and short fiction. They have different submission periods for different genres so read the guidelines here before deciding to submit. Or you can submit to their magazine Under the Radar if you are interested. The magazine prints poems and articles mostly. Based in Rugby, Nine Arches Press will only work with authors who have previously been published elsewhere.
One of the most popular publishing companies in the world, Bloomsbury Publishing has offices in London, New York, New Delhi and Sydney. The publisher that brought Harry Potter to the world, Bloomsbury has an array of imprints and divisions that constantly look out for their next bestseller. They accept unsolicited manuscripts only for certain divisions like academic, young adult, music, health and military history. Writers can find submission guidelines on this page. Submission guidelines for Bloomsbury Spark, their imprint for young adult and teens can be found on this page.
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 you can find the contact details here.
An imprint of HarperCollins, an established universal publisher, HarperImpulse was established in 2013. Helmed by Charlotte Ledger, this imprint under the hugely popular publisher only publishes romance and romantic fiction. It has also won the Festival of Romance’s Publisher Innovation Award. They already have 100 titles and are one of the few imprints of HarperCollins who accepts unsolicited manuscripts. Read more about the submission guidelines on this page.
You may have heard of the ‘Life of Pi’ by Yann Martel, the Booker Prize winner. Canongate was the publisher of that famous book. Having that kind of eye has enabled them to find bestsellers through the years. They print challenging, passionate works of literature. Launched in 1973 in Edinburgh, they have won Publisher of the Year twice. You can find the submission details on this page.
15. Dream Catcher
Paul Sutherland formed Dream Catcher in 1996 as a literary journal to share poetry, prose and a mix of writing styles. Based in York, they select intriguing, edgy works of writing for every issue of their journal. Writers of short stories, poems and interviews can consider submitting a story idea or a proposal. Read the 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 20 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. First time authors can consider sending their manuscript to the London based publisher after reading the instructions here.
17. Verse Publishing
Created specifically only to provide opportunities to amateur writers and previously unpublished authors, Verse Publishing is situated in Priorslee in England. If you write short story collections or novels, you can consider sending your manuscript to them. They only publish thriller, horror, science-fiction and fantasy. Read the submission guidelines here.
A small, independent press launched in the late 1990s, The Alchemy Press caters to a specific niche of fantasy horror. Located in the West Midlands, The Alchemy Press has also won the Best Small Press Award by The British Fantasy Society in 2014. They have remained to the core a fiercely independent publisher that consciously works with writers that have a unique bent and writing style. Alchemy Press is currently accepting submissions only for its Alchemy Press Book of Horrors- an anthology of horror stories. Send your story only if it is disruptive of the horror and supernatural genre. Read submission guidelines here.
19. Grimlock Press
When it comes to book publishers that accept unsolicited manuscripts, Grimlock Press, situated in Manchester, was originally started as a company to publish books for young adults. They have evolved over time to include children’s books and work with stories and authors that are keen on pushing the envelope. They request you read their books to get an idea about what to submit. Find the submission 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 send a proposal 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 don’t accept poetry or short stories. 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.