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Open Door, 2012


Angry Robot – our adorable but rather cross parent company – ran an Open Door month last year, which proved to be rather successful with, at last count, three debut authors signed off the back of it. We thought to ourselves that we’d rather like a piece of this action too, considering the wealth of talent that must be out there in the YA field. So, we are jumping on their (thankfully roomy) bandwagon and inviting submissions from YA authors. These submissions can be any and all flavours of SF/F!

If you have a complete YA novel, and are unagented, we’ll happily read it for possible publication – provided you submit it to us between April 16th and 30th 2012. (If you are agented, this isn’t for you.)

Still here? Good.

This page is full of things you Need To Know. You’ve spent months – or possibly years – perfecting your novel; make sure you take twenty minutes or so to read the guidelines on this page. And by guidelines, we of course mean: instructions carved in stone. Last year we rejected far too many submissions simply because the author did not follow the submission guidelines.

What we’re not looking for:

• Anything other than SF/F. If you’ve written a brilliant contemporary YA novel, that’s great, but not what we’re after. We don’t publish contemporary YA. It HAS to be SF/F.
• Book 2 or later in an existing series.
• Books that have already been published elsewhere (including podcast, self-published as eBooks or print-on-demand).
• Books that have not yet been completed.
• Children’s or Middle Grade books – YA only.
• Anything shorter than novel length (approx 60,000 to 90,000 words, but there is some flexibility in this).

So, you have until the end of April to polish your manuscript, and to get it in the right format for us.

Include a single file containing your submission. Do not send multiple files.

We prefer RTF files. Word files are OK, as are PDFs. If you don’t know what these terms mean, ask a tech-savvie friend.

Your file should contain the following:

• Page 1: Your name, your contact details (email address is essential, snail mail address is handy, too), the name of the novel and its wordcount. Feel free to include a brief biography here, if you feel it is relevant.
• Pages 2-3: A full synopsis of the novel, including brief descriptions of the major characters. You must include details of the novel’s ending – no keeping us in suspense until we buy the book off you! Feel free to include a paragraph or two of your intentions/inspiration if you wish (this last bit is not essential). We will also smile on you if you can include a one-sentence summary of your novel, here. Yep – you read that right.
• Pages 4 onwards: The first 5 chapters of your novel. If your chapters are very short, or very, very long, send us no less than 10,000 words, no more than 15,000.

Notes on formatting:

• Single-spaced entries are preferred.
• If your manuscript contains italics, use italics. Do not underline, instead.
• Start a fresh page for new chapters.

If you have not followed the guidelines, above, your submission might be rejected without even being read, so give yourself the best chance of success.

The notes above will tell you everything you need to know about submitting your manuscript. IF IT’S NOT MENTIONED ON THIS PAGE, IT’S NOT WORTH WORRYING ABOUT, SO DON’T FEEL YOU NEED TO QUERY THE SMALLEST DETAIL. For instance, if you telephone us to ask what font to use (this has happened) we’re probably not going to want to take your manuscript further.

How to submit your manuscript:

Head on over to the Open Door Submissions page and complete the form.

What we are looking for:

We’re publishing novels, either standalone or as part of greater series. We’re not looking to publish your novellas, short stories (individually or collected in book form) or non-fiction at this time. Our novels are for YA readers – we do not want adult fiction or middle grade fiction.

All our books are “genre” fiction in one way or another — specifically fantasy, science fiction, horror, and that new catch-all urban or modern fantasy. We are entirely happy if you mash-up any of those genres to create something new.

Our books will be published in all English-language territories — notably the UK, US and Australia — so we’ll be buying rights to cover all those. If you are only offering rights in one territory, we will not be able to deal with you. We will be able to offer e-book and audio versions as standard too, plus limited edition and multiple physical formats where appropriate. We are not contracting any work-for-hire titles; we offer advances and royalties.

Beyond all of this, what we’re really looking for in your writing is this:
• A “voice”, that comes from…
~ Confident writing
~ Pacy writing
~ Characters that live, have real relationships and emotions, even in extreme situations
• A sense of vision, a rounded universe that lives and breathes
• Clever construction and good plotting
• Heightened experience – an intensity, extremity or just a way of treating plot or situation in a way we’ve not come across before. “Goes up to 11″, if you know what that means.

We require a brief (two pages) summary of characters, plot and your intentions/inspiration, in that order — plus the opening five chapters. No more, no less. DO NOT send us the opening chapters of your unfinished manuscript – we’re only interested in novels that have been completed. DO NOT send us the full manuscript, unless asked to do so.

Send us the right file, first time. Please, please, please do not send us a submission and then follow it up a few days later with an improved version that you have since edited. Improve it before sending, and send it once.

Your opening chapters will be read by one of our external reading team. If we like what we read, we’ll ask you for the rest of it.

Here is a little FAQ!

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 10-15,000 words, or so.

What is your preferred overall length for finished novels?
For YA we’re looking for (approximately) 60-100,000, but there is some flexibility in this.

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

If I send my cool contemporary YA novel, you won’t know until you start reading it, and by then you’ll be hooked…
Nah. All that will happen is that we will stop reading the instant we realise you’ve tried to dupe us, and that won’t do anyone any favours. We keep a book, you know. A black one. And we write in it with a red pen

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 Angry Robot received nearly 1,000 submissions, and it took 9 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.

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



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