Wednesday, March 12, 2014

3 Major Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishers Accepting Unagented Manuscripts

Updated 3/9/21

Speculative fiction publishers have a tradition of accepting manuscripts directly from authors.

This is a genre that attracts readers who think in terms of possibilities, and who don't, as a rule, like to follow the mainstream.

These readers also have their own networks, which means a speculative fiction novel can achieve fame strictly through word-of-mouth ( e.g. Wool). Publishers in this genre realize that mavericks have a place in the sci-fi world, and are thus willing to work directly with writers.

As always, go to the publisher's website before submitting your work. Submission requirements often change.

[Also see Top 5 Sites for Science Fiction Writers]

Baen Books 

Baen Books was founded in 1983 by science fiction editor and publisher Jim Baen (now deceased). Baen was one of the first publishers to use the Internet as a means of "spreading the word" about a book or author.

In addition to publishing emerging authors, Baen republishes older science fiction in collections and omnibus editions, such as the works of the 1960s authors Christopher Anvil and others.

What they are looking for: Science fiction and fantasy. Powerful plots with solid scientific and philosophical underpinnings are essential for science fiction submissions. For fantasy, any magical system must be both rigorously coherent and integral to the plot, and overall the work must at least strive for originality. Manuscripts should be at least 100,000 words, but if your novel is really wonderful send it along regardless of length.

Reporting time: usually within 9 to 12 Months.

How to submit: Complete manuscript accompanied by a synopsis. No simultaneous submissions.

Electronic Submissions: Send your manuscript by using the submission form on the site.

Attach the manuscript as a Rich Text Format (.rtf) file. Any other format will not be considered.

Send the manuscript as a single file (do not break it into separate chapter files). The form only accepts a single file so any synopsis and contact info needs to be in the file with your manuscript.

Your submission must include your name, email address, postal mailing address, and telephone number on both your cover letter and the first page of the manuscript. If you have an alternate permanent email address, please include it, in case your primary account goes out of service. Include a plot outline if possible.

You may include your ideal cover treatment, including cover copy, a teaser page, and whatever else you would like.

Hardcopy Submissions: (for those who cannot submit electronically)

Standard manuscript format only: double-spaced, one side of the page only, 1 1/2" margins on all four sides of the page. They will consider photocopies if they are dark and clear.

Font must be seriphed or at least semi-seriphed, 12-point or greater.

Title, author (last name only is okay), and page number at the top of each page are mandatory. Include your name, mailing address, and telephone number on the first page.

All submissions should be accompanied by a stamped return envelope. Submissions from outside the U.S. should be accompanied by sufficient International Reply Coupons.

Send manuscripts to:

Baen Books
P.O. Box 1403
Riverdale, NY 10471

Read guidelines HERE.


DAW is part of the Penguin Group.

From the website: Founded in 1971 by veteran paperback editor Donald A. Wollheim, along with his wife, Elsie B. Wollheim, DAW Books was the first publishing company ever devoted exclusively to science fiction and fantasy. Now more than 30 years and more than a thousand titles later, DAW has a well-deserved reputation for discovering and publishing the hottest talents in the industry. Many stars of the science fiction and fantasy field made their debuts in the pages of a DAW book, including Tad Williams, C. J. Cherryh, Mercedes Lackey, Melanie Rawn, C.S. Friedman, Jennifer Roberson, and Tanith Lee. Despite its high profile, DAW is still a small private company, owned exclusively by its publishers, Elizabeth R. Wollheim and Sheila E. Gilbert. Betsy and Sheila are strongly committed to discovering and nurturing new talent, and to keeping a personal "family" spirit at DAW—something they feel is all too rare in today's world of international conglomerate publishing.

What they are looking for: Science fiction and fantasy novels. The average length of the novels is almost never less than 80,000 words. They do not want short stories, short story collections, novellas, poetry, or novels in other genres.

How to submit: DAW accepts submissions through Submittable.

Please send the entire completed manuscript with a query letter. The manuscript should be double-spaced, with at least 1″ margins. Please number your pages consecutively, and put the title of your novel at the top of each page.

Read guidelines HERE.


TOR was founded by publisher Tom Doherty in 1980. It was sold to St. Martin's Press in 1986, making it part of the Holtzbrinck group. Tor has published more award-winning and -nominated science fiction books than any other publisher.

What they are looking for: Science fiction, as well as other genre fiction. Imprints include Starscape: science fiction and fantasy for middle grade readers ages 10 and up (grades 5 and up), published in hardcover and paperback, and Tor Teen, science fiction and fantasy for young adult readers ages 13 and up (grades 8 and up), published in hardcover and paperback. All titles are age- and theme-appropriate. Some editions include reader’s guides and other supplemental materials.

How to submit: has an open submissions policy. Every proposal is reviewed by at least one member of the editorial staff.

Please note that these guidelines are intended for writers who do not have agents.

Your submissions packet should include:

Your submissions packet should include:

1. The first three chapters of your book, prepared in standard manuscript format on white paper. (If your chapters are really short or really long, or you don’t use chapter breaks, you may send the first 40-60 pages of your book, provided you stay under 10,000 words.) The submitted text must be made up of consecutive pages and should end at the end of a paragraph, not in mid-sentence.

Standard manuscript format means margins of at least 1 inch all the way around; indented paragraphs; double-spaced text; and Times New Roman in 12 pitch. Please use one side of the page only. Do not justify the text. Do not bind the manuscript in any way. Make sure the header of the ms. includes your name and/or the title of the book as well as the page number (on every page).

2. A synopsis of the entire book. The synopsis should include all important plot elements, especially the end of the story, as well as character development for your main characters. The synopsis should run between three and ten pages in standard manuscript format. The first page of the synopsis and the first page of the text should also include your name and contact information and the title of the manuscript.

3. A dated cover letter that includes your name and contact information and the title of the submitted work. Briefly tell us what genre or subgenre the submission falls into and mention any qualifications you have that pertain to the work. Please list any previous publications in paying markets.

4. A self-addressed, stamped, business-size envelope for our reply letter.  We understand that writers living outside the United States may not be able to supply International Reply Coupons. You may submit regardless; please send a self-addressed, business-size envelope for our reply. We recycle all proposals in accordance with corporate sustainability directives and local laws. If you do not include an SASE, you will not receive a reply.

Please send only one proposal in each submissions packet. If you have written a series, send a proposal for the first book only. If we like what we see, we’ll ask for the rest.

Many people include postcards to be returned when the proposal reaches us. Unfortunately, we don’t open submissions until we’re ready to read them, so it’s probably best to save your money.

Address submissions as follows:

* Science fiction and fantasy: Acquisitions Editor, Science Fiction and Fantasy

* Fiction of all other types including but not limited to general fiction, historical fiction, horror, mystery, paranormal, suspense/thriller, urban fantasy, and women’s fiction: Acquisitions Editor, Fiction

* Children’s and Young Adult: Acquisitions Editor, Children’s and Young Adult Division Note: We publish books for the chapter book, middle grade, and young adult audiences. We do not publish picture books.

If you do not receive a reply after six months, please resubmit. It’s likely that your project or our response disappeared in transit.

Thank you for your interest.

Don’t stop reading! Here are some tips to help the whole process work smoothly:

1. Don’t send a query letter. It’s practically impossible to judge a project from a query. We’d rather see your proposal.

2. Don’t send submissions or inquiries by email or fax. We do not respond to emailed or faxed submissions, queries, or inquiries about the status of submissions.

3. Don’t send disks. We want to read words in black type on white paper. And it’s not that we don’t trust you, but your system might have viruses you don’t know about.

4. Don’t send us the only copy of anything. Things get lost in transit.

5. Don’t send interior or cover art or an author photo. There’s time for that later, if we like your project.

6. Don’t send jewelry, food, toys, 3-dimensional representations of anything, or anything that might be construed as a bribe. Over the years, we’ve seen all of the following and more: handmade bracelets and earrings, anatomical models, home-baked cookies, fine fabrics, fancy bookmarks, cocoanuts, fancy manuscript boxes . . ..None of this has any impact on our consideration of your work. The work has to sink or swim on its own merits.

Thanks! Send submissions to:

Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010

Read guidelines HERE. Submissions temporarily suspended during pandemic.


  1. Why would an author in today's publishing world be content to wait for months just to hear back from a publisher, when they can have their book published online in just a few hours? I once dreamed of walking into a bookstore and seeing my books, but once I read the fine print I realized that I would have to give up control of my book for a very, very small percentage of the profits (not to mention all creative control of the story and cover art). Since I started self publishing a few years ago, I've been able to write what I wanted, how I wanted, and publish each of my 15 books when I wanted. I've sold thousands of copies, quite my day job, moved my family across the country and lived my dream, all because I stopped waiting on publishers to respond and took my stories directly to readers by publishing independently.

    1. You have a point, buy for a new author there is nothing better than name recognition. Publishing your short stories in award winning magazines and your first few novels through major publishers is a great way to separate the exceptional writers from the mountain of slush that has buried the self-publishing scene. It's also a great reality check for new writers who might not be quite as polished as they think.

    2. Toby... you are spot-on with your remarks. Amazon KDP is the best for a new author / struggling author who does not have a lot of money to pay for self-publishing and they pay 70-percent royalties but soon switching to pages read royalties due to the flooded market. Online publishing has become a vast ocean. Hard to make a ripple these days even if you are an A-List author.

    3. Hi Toby
      I'm currently writing my first fantasy novel. I published an Amazon Bestseller in 2014, but for the last year, my publisher has not been particularly supportive and I am getting nowhere. Is there a way that I can contact you? I would love to learn more about self-publishing as I am considering this as my next avenue. - See more at:

    4. Hi Toby, I am also an aspiring writer, and with no sense of author support, I was wondering if you could contact me. Or any published author that reads this, I would love to have some help. My email is thank you in advance

    5. Hi i have a manuscript of 800 pages written in 1953 by a guy that sadly never got to see his work published the story has a great amazing well thought out imaginative tale.It took the author seven years to compleat.there's four different Islands with four sets of different tribes' aliens'and people that each need some forms of fuel food or drugs to survive so they have to get on with each other it's such a great cleaver story that I feel it needs to be published. Sadly the author who passed away in the early eightys had nobody to leave his possessions to the manuscript was found in a chest of drawers in the greenhouse where it had been put after it was returned with a letter saying sorry but they don't think there science fiction manuscript would be salable at this present time dated 1971. I brought it along with some books after a house and garage clearout sale as he lived alone the council took the property for resale. Only thing I found out was he was a botanical expert at Kew gardens that's all I could find out as he was a very private person.Any ideas on what to do or where to take the story to be published thanks

    6. If you don't have the copyright on this manuscript, you can't get it published. You would have to find his children, or other relatives, to see if they have rights over the document. If there are no survivors or relatives, consult with an intellectual property rights lawyer to see if you can get the manuscript published.

  2. Actually, it took years for me to get my trilogy into print - not months. The advantage is that once you get published by a big name in the industry, you have a pedigree. You pay the price for that pedigree (no control over your book, low royalties - if any, very little advertising), but having a publisher as a writing credit means that editors will at least read your proposals.

  3. An author would want a publisher if he or she would prefer not to have to take on all the work involved in DIY publishing. It's great that it's worked well for you, Toby, but some writers prefer just to write and let other people handle the rest of the work—and the cost.

  4. Not to be Debbie Downer, but has Ace changed their policy? Last I saw they weren't accepting. In fact DAW was the only Penguin family publisher who was still taking according to the site. I hope that changed though.

  5. Hi Penny, I can't figure out whether Ace has changed its policy or not. There is no up-to-date information on their site, just an admonition (from Penguin) to get an agent. Other sites still list Ace as one of the houses that accepts manuscripts. To be on the safe side, I'd submit to Daw or Tor. Tor also has a digital imprint - as does Random/Penguin.

  6. How long for Tor to respond to a submission?

    1. Tor responds to "almost everything" within seven months.

  7. Is Tor the same as Tor Forge Publishers, or are they separate companies?

  8. Tor and Forge are the two primary imprints of Tom Doherty Associates.

  9. Thanks for this really helpful information! It's just what I was looking for. I just finished a science fiction novel and am ready to send it out. A couple of questions, if you don't mind:

    Is it better to focus my attention on getting an agent first, or to start submitting to these publishers right away?

    Also, is there any info on which of these publishers treats its authors best, in terms of royalties and general support?

    1. First, try to find an agent. When it comes to contract negotiations, agents get better terms. Publishers are also more likely to respond to agents. As for how these publishers treat authors, the best source of information is Absolute Write. (Just type the name of the publisher and "absolute write" into a google search.)

    2. Thanks so much for your reply. That was my gut feeling - to try to find an agent first. I was also thinking that if I get rejections from three publishers, that in itself might put agents off. Nice to have a plan of action - to narrow down an agent list....

  10. Where would I start if I wanted to self publish?

    1. Start by researching self-publishing platforms. (Smashwords and Createspace are the two most popular.) Pick the one that best suits your needs. (Do you want to release your book in both print and digital formats? What kind of distribution do you want?) Then, before you publish, plan your marketing strategies. (Reviews, ads, book signings, etc.) There are a lot of resources on the "Self-Publishing" tab on this blog that will help you with marketing and promotion. Be sure to read the self-publishing success stories.

  11. Hey, I'm currently writing my first book and I have been wanting to find a editor and a publisher. I have been searching for several months and I would like some suggestions on some publishing companies. Any ideas?

  12. I am seeking a literary agent. I am a self published novelist. I finished my novel and published it in 2014 online at and I have a total of eight books in the series. I have more I am working on to add to the list. I was told it's a great story and someday would be great adaptable on the big or small screen.

    It is a science fiction and fantasy adventure story called the time stone.

    A group of unlikely heroes from the opposite sides of the track embarks on the most ultimate human adventure surrounding an ancient alien transportation device. The four main characters travel through time in search of answers and a way home but end up making a difference in terms of helping to solve an age old mystery and avert a disaster in the future from occurring. They learn a lot about themselves in the process.

    Please let me know if you want to read it or you can go to the websites I mentioned and download it for free along with the others in the series.

    I am confident this project which is essentially a life work project of mine that I envision to have numerous volumes of in the series is going to be a multi billion dollar blockbuster.

    Thanks. I look forward to hearing from you and collaborating.

    Jeffrey Estrella

    1. Jeffrey you can try some agents who accept sci-fi (middle grade, YA, or general), but most agents don't want to represent books after you have self published. If you haven't self published the rest in the series, you may still have an opportunity. If you have already self published the first book only, you should do everything you can to market and get the sales up on it BEFORE you present the sequels to an agent. You can google "science fiction literary agents" to get the right agent.

  13. strangely FEW would be authors have ten or more pages of Illustrations. Indeed my Novel of 420 pages is both an Occult adventure and Grimoire. Publishers of such a book are rare. Even online self-publishing don't like illustrative novels, especially with occult symbolism

  14. I would like to know what the publishing companies that do not return your manuscripts do with them,that worries me a little,how hard would it for them to ask an author to include a (sase) with submissions...Just because someone has an agent and a publisher does not guarantee,great success in the literary world.....I would rather take my chances with least I can have some control


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