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Strange Chemistry Unagented Submissions 2013

Okay, I know that some of you have been waiting for a long while for this announcement! Strange Chemistry is once again opening to unagented YA submissions. We opened to unagented submissions last year and, although a number of novels came close, none of them completely matched what we were looking for, but this has not deterred us from trying again!

This year the unagented submission period will last for SIX months. It is opening on May 1st and closing 31st October. This gives you half a year to prepare the best submission you are able. If your novel is not quite ready right now, please take the time to polish and give yourself the very best chance of publication.

We are also opening up to thrillers, crimes and contemporary YA as well as our customary SF and fantasy.

Your submission package:

– one page, containing your name, address, social media outlets and a one line pitch for your novel

– two pages, containing your two page synopsis of your novel

– 5 chapters of your novel, or 10,000 words (depending on the length of your chapters)

This is ALL we want to see.

Because we’re opening the submission period for longer and to a wider variety of novels, we will be incredibly strict with submissions. If you do not provide everything asked for above, your novel will be rejected. If you provide more than asked for above, your novel will be rejected.

Here are some extra details for you – please read CAREFULLY!

You say you want the first 5 chapters. Does that include the prologue I’ve written?
If your prologue is very short, send it, along with the first 5 chapters. If it’s chapter length, send it along with the first 4 chapters.

What if my chapters are all very short?
Send us the first 10,000 words, or so.

What is your preferred overall length for finished novels?
For YA we’re looking for (approximately) 70-100,000, but there is some flexibility in this.

My book isn’t really YA, but…
Sorry – it’s not for us, then.

Will I get a response?
Yes. You will definitely get a response, whether it’s “No, thank you – it’s not for us”, “No, thank you – but we’d like to read more of your work” or “Ooh, yes please – just what we’re looking for”.

Will I get feedback?
Possibly. Probably not much.

How long will it be before I hear from you?
You know – we don’t really know. Last year Strange Chemistry received nearly 500 submissions, and it took over 12 months to get through them all. As a general rule of thumb, it generally takes us 3 months or more to respond to solicited manuscripts. Yours might take longer. On the other hand, it might be sooner. You will get a response, though. Feel free to drop us a query if you’ve not heard anything after 6 months.

Six months? Seriously?
We never joke about time. Well, not unless we have a really great time-travel comedy, and then we might.

What happens if the reader likes my work?
If they like your work, you’ll get a polite rejection. You might even get feedback (but that’s not guaranteed).

Ok, ok, Miss Nitpicky – I meant love my work. What happens if they love my work?
If it’s something that fits within the Strange Chemistry brand, and if the external reader adored the book, then they will pass it onto the editor of Strange Chemistry. If THEY love it, then it’ll be taken along to the rest of our acquisitions team. During this acquisitions meeting, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of the book, along with its chances of commercial and critical success, and if the consensus is that we should make an offer, that’s what we’ll probably do.

And then I can quit my day job?
Ummm… no. Well, only if you have an independent income stream. Most professional novelists hold down jobs in addition to their writing. At a later stage in your career you may decide to write full time, but we would not advise it at the outset, unless a life of poverty appeals (but hey – great research for your next novel!)

You guys are making it sound like the chances of my novel being accepted are really slim…
We wouldn’t want you to submit under falsely high expectations. It’s amazing that you’ve managed to get all those words down in the first place, but the road to getting published is another longer haul, entirely. But if you’re brilliant, it will happen, either with us or another open-minded publisher.

And of course, Strange Chemistry remains absolutely committed to the publication of works by writers of all genders, ethnicities, colour, orientation, nationalities, and religious or political beliefs. We make publishing decisions based on the quality and commercial viability of the works submitted to us for consideration, and not on the personal backgrounds of the authors.

So! If, after all that, you’re not put off at all, start getting that novel polished!

If you have any questions about the process, please add them below and you will receive an answer.

Finally, the all-important email address…

Send your submission packages to – and good luck!


Spencer Ellsworth

Thanks! This doesn’t say, though, if you have a problem with simultaneous submissions (to your house and to others at the same time). Most publishing houses don’t seem to care but occasionally I find one that does.


Since it could take a while to get to the various submissions, we do not mind simultaneous submissions, but we do ask that you inform us if your manuscript gets picked up elsewhere so that it can be taken out of our process.

Girl Friday

Should the submission package be sent as a single Word attachment? Or three? Or in the body of the email? Thanks.


Can we submit more than one submission? I have one complete now that I plan to send and another in progress that I hope to have completed by the October deadline.


hello! I had one question (I like to be very particular about things!) I understand that you want no more and no less than your submission guidelines. If my chapters are longish (longest so far is 4,500 shortest 2,500) , is it acceptable for me to submit my prologue and two chapters? It may not be exactly 10k words but it wouldn’t be over the 10k limit.


Would prefer it all in one Word (or pdf) attachment!


Best to submit one. If we like your work, we’ll ask for more examples :-)


That sounds fine, David!


Thank you very much for your time :)


Will you wait until October before reading submissions, or will you weed out the ‘not-for-yous’ as soon as you receive them? That would give the author an earlier chance of submitting elsewhere and save a lot of chewed fingernails.


Very awesome! I love that Strange Chemistry does this; it’s a wonderful chance to discover new talent. I’m envious of the people who are going to be going through all the submissions! :D


The submissions will be looked at as they come in, although I doubt the readers will keep up with the amount expected! Won’t be waiting until October to begin :-)


Can the submission package be sent as an attachment or do you want everything in the body of the email?


If we’re sending this as a word document, do you want a query type letter in the main body of the email, or is no one going to be checking the body of the emails?


An attachment please!


The emails won’t really be looked at – the attachment is what is important.


The first three chapters of my novel total almost 20,000 words. Should I send in the 20k or strip it back to 10k or run with a full five chapters (could be quite a large chunk).


In your case, strip back to 10k and just make it clear when submitting that you were advised to do so.


I feel special! :D Thanks Amanda.


What should we put in the subject line of the email, or do you have a preference? Usually it’s something like “SUBMISSION: [NAME OF PIECE]”–would that be acceptable?


On the 10K word preference, (I realize you’re being asked several questions on this), would it be better to cut exactly at 10K words, or go ahead and finish the chapter? (The end of my forth chapter marks ~10,600 words).

For the synopsis, what all do you want included? Are you looking for the main events, or are you wanting a summary of the main characters, as well?

What would you like us to title the attachment?

Thanks! Sounds like an awesome opportunity. :-)

Stephanie Flint


That would be absolutely fine!


Go ahead and finish the chapter in that case, rather than just cut off mid sentence *grins*

Main events for the synopsis please!

Just something like Unagented Submission and then the title of your piece would be great!


-Do you want the submission to be formatted like a manuscript, with Courier font and double spacing and etc?

-Also, the one line pitch – is that “log line” or “can’t go past one line across the page”?

Thanks! :)


Courier and double spaced would be lovely.



Thanks for the quick response, I appreciate it. :-)


Hi Amanda,
Thanks so much for this opportunity.
My question is, if you were to love what I submit and offer me a contract, would you be offended if then tried to land an agent to assist me in agent specific areas like translating the contract and negotiating over sea publishers?


Not at all. This has been the way of things in previous unagented submission periods. Agents are very useful for writers, after all!


Thanks very much for the quick response! Now to edit once more and submit!

LJ Cohen

I have a YA novel my agent isn’t interested in representing and has returned to me. Would I be eligible to submit that novel to you?


This is a hard one, since you’re actually agented – and this is definitely for people who haven’t got agents when they submit the novel to us.


Hi Amanda!
I was wondering, what if the novel is already self-published on Amazon? Are we still allowed to send in the manuscript? And if so, will we be asked to take down the novel from Amazon if you like it and a contract is made?
Also, are we allowed to send in submissions from other countries? I live in Asia.


No, we don’t want anything that has already been published, whatever the method was for doing so. Yes, we welcome submissions from other countries.


Hi, was wondering if New Adult falls under your YA purview (i.e. a story about someone just starting university but is not necessarily geared towards adults).

Angela Clay

Hi, just a quick question about the synopsis. Can it be one page or does it definitely have to be two.


If you can manage to summarise your novel in just one page, then go ahead.


Willing to take a look, but it might well be rejected purely on the basis that it doesn’t fit the rest of the SC list.



Quick question/concern regarding the social media requirements – I am very interested in submitting but my social media exposure is practically zero apart from a very private Facebook network which no ‘outsider’ is ever going to find…

Is this going to cause problems with the submission?


You’re still more than welcome to submit. We do pay a lot of attention to social media, because our authors are expected to do some online promotion of themselves and their work, but it wouldn’t preclude a contract if the book was what we wanted.



is the minimum word count a strict 70,000 words? I see it’s flexible, but by how much exactly?

I ask because the novel I have is pretty shy of that amount, but it’s the first in a planned series which would amount to over the 70k minimum.

Basically, the piece I have is a hi interest/low reading level YA at around 42,000 words. I can lengthen it, but not without adding a cliffhanger, which I’ve heard is a big no-no.

What is your absolute minimum word count?

Thanks so much.


I wouldn’t accept anything at 42,000 words. 50,000 is probably the cut off, but then I’d want it beefing up a bit as well.



I saw you tell a poster with long chapters that sending 10.6k would be fine, to take her to the end of a chapter. I’ve got a similar issue (longer chapters), but the end of my chapter 4 would put me at 12300 words. The end of chapter 3 would be 7883 words. Would you prefer one over the other, or split in the middle of the chapter near 10k, but not mid-sentence? Thanks so much!


Send in the longer version :-)

Michelle Aveyard-Barry

Hi Amanda, sorry to be redundant to Amy’s question above but I have a similar issue – my chapters are long so chapter 2 takes me to about 9300 words and chapter 3 takes me to 13000 – should I send the longer one as well or break in the middle of chapter 3?

Also, if I should send the longer selection, should I reference this board in the email to say I was directed to? Just don’t want to get rejected due to breaking from the listed rules :)

Thank you for the opportunity!

Stacey Trombley

Do you talk about what you’re looking for anywhere? I have a YA contemporary I’m considering submitting but since that’s not something you usually accept I’m not sure if mine is really up the SC ally. I guess I could just send and find out. Hmm, considering.


Hi Stacey,

Please do send it. We’re considering all YA :-)



To the end of chapter three please!



I have a couple of quick questions.

On the first page do you also want the word count for novel?
Do you prefer to have the tittle, last name, and page number on the writing sample?
And finally, do you want the tittle of the novel only on the first page or or on the synopsis and sample pages as well?

Thank you.

Gina K.

My chapters are also on the long side. Should I send the my first 3 Chapters (11,066 words) or just the first 2 Chapters? My first 4 Chapters come in at 14,257.


Thank you for your time. YA has become so popular lately and the lines seemed to have blurred as to what is considered YA. Would a story such as the first “Harry Potter” be considered YA these days or are we strictly talking about a story featuring full-fledged teenagers such as those in “The Hunger Games”? I have both, so I’m just trying to figure out which one would be better to submit. Cheers!


First three please.


Submit the best one – either could have potential.


Yes, wordcount on front page will be useful.
Don’t need title, last name and page number on sample.
Title just on front page will be fine.

Michelle Aveyard-Barry

Hi Amanda, I was wondering what word count you would consider too long for a YA Science Fantasy novel?

Michelle Aveyard-Barry

To clarify, I see the instructions recommend 70-100K with some flexibility, and I am just looking to gauge a better idea as to what you would consider. I believe my novel will be bumping up against 115K, but I know SF and Fantasy tend to be longer genres so I was curious about whether I should try and scale it back to be closer to 100K or leave it be.
Thanks again for the opportunity and for answering all our questions :)


Hi Michelle,

115k is too long for us. 100k is pushing it, to be honest. It would be better to try and scale it down some. If you find it hard, maybe consider that it might work better as a duology? (but only submit the first one, in that case)


Michelle Aveyard-Barry

Thanks Amanda! Will do.


Hi Amanda,
I see you want title on first page – would you want genre and word count added to?


Yes please!

Mara Fitzgerald

I am a dolt and did not even think to put the word count* in my submission. Am I fired?

*which falls within the guidelines, happily.

Jonathan Stoffel

I’m looking at my manuscript and dealing with almost the exact same figures. My fourth chapter wraps at 12.1k words, but to cut out half the chapter would cause it to lose a lot of impact, while the previous chapter ends around 7.5k. (The fourth chapter is probably the longest in the book so far.)

Michelle Aveyard-Barry

Hi Amanda, this question is more general, but do you recognize Science Fantasy as a genre? Or should I just stick with either SF or Fantasy?

Thanks again for the opportunity!



Absolutely recognise it as a genre!


In reply to a comment above, you mentioned you were open to all YA genres. I’m assuming that includes YA horror, even though it isn’t specifically listed?



It does indeed!

Olivia Hinebaugh

Is it inadvisable to be submitted to agents at the same time?


Hi Amanda, another question on word count preference, sorry. I end Chapter 4 at 9,500 words – Chapter 5 would take it up to 11,500. Which selection would you prefer to be submitted?

Robert Gmelin

I’m in almost the exact same situation. I have short chapters. Seven would be 9800, eight would be 11,300. But that extra chapter introduces the last major character so I’d like to be able to include it.

Also, should the two-page synposis be single or double space?

Robert Gmelin

That’s “synopsis” of course.

Ian Hunter

Are you looking for novels told mainly in the first person? Also, does the novel have to be told from the viewpoint (first or third) of one main character, or could it be told from the viewpoints of two characters, until they finally meet?
Thanks, Ian


What an amazing opportunity! I am writing a YA fantasy but it won’t be done in 2 weeks. I’ll be keeping a close eye on this page and hoping you offer up this opportunity again next year. Good luck to everyone!

Lisa Gray

Hi, does the entire book have to be finished by the closing date or can I submit 10,000 words with a full synopsis and then finish the book while you’re going through the submissions? Lisa.


I am in the same boat as many others- at Chapter Seven’s end, I’m slightly over 10,000 words. I hope that is acceptable.

I am so excited for this opportunity!

Rachael Acks

Question about the first page of the package, with all the information–do you have a preferred format for it? (eg: do you want it written like a query letter, or just with all the information listed out as briefly as possible?) Also, should I include my publishing credits, or are those irrelevant/considered to be more than asked for?


Silly question I know. The one line pitch. Is it strictly one line or can it be one sentence that goes over 2 lines?


Please tell me we have till midnight to send the novel in! I just need to finish going over it one last time. I’m dying.

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