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Creative Writing

Literary agents and query letters

This guide form Poets&Writers is a good starting point for learning about literary agents.


Some websites with tips on writing a query letter:

Finding a publisher

The following books provide information about publishers, tips about what kind of writing they are looking for, where to send submissions, and much more.  The first one, Writer's Market, is especially well-know.

Publishing guidelines

Different publishers will have different protocols for accepting submissions.

DON'T just send your manuscript off to an editor's email or the publisher's address, unless instructed to do so in that publisher's submission guidelines.

DO research the publishers you are interested in and make sure you follow their  submission guidelines.

  • Some will only accept submissions at certain times (especially true for competitions and prizes).
  • Some will only accept certain genres
  • Some will want you to format your work a certain way.
  • Some will want you to query your story, rather than submitting a completed manuscript.
  • Some will not accept unsolicited submissions and will require you to go through an agent. This is true of most commercial/trade publishers.

Submission guidelines are not always easy to find. Here are some tips to help you navigate publisher's websites!

  • Many title their links manuscript submissions or something similar like submissions, submit, or submission guidelines.
  • If  submissions information isn't obvious, try looking for it at the bottom of the home page,  or on the the about, contact us or FAQ's pages.
  • Big publishers are often a conglomerate of smaller ones (sometimes called imprints), so you may also need to go through some of the websites for those smaller publishers.

Investigating The American Directory of Writer's Guidelines may also be helpful, though you'll still need to find the publishers' current website, to make sure the guidelines are still valid.


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