Category Archives: short stories

Children’s short story market – The Caterpillar Magazine

It can be difficult to find places to submit children’s short stories, so I was pleased to see this market in August’s Writing Magazine.Caterpillar magaine

Launched a year ago, The Caterpillar is a quarterly children’s magazine featuring fiction, poetry and artwork for children aged 7-11.  Read the poem and story on their site to get an idea of what they like, or better still buy a copy.  They accept fiction up to one thousand words and up to six poems as word or pdf attachments (the poems should be in a single document).  They prefer email submissions but do provide a postal address, and it can take up to three months for them to respond.

I haven’t been able to find a link to buy a single copy (rather than a subscription) from the site so I’ve emailed them for information.  I’ll post more when I can read a copy.  From what I’ve seen so far it looks like great fun and a wonderful opportunity for writers if you can fit their gently humorous style.

 

The Times 50 word ghost story competition

I’ve just heard about this competition which closes in a week, but with only 50 words to write you can hit the deadline easily – can’t you?

Write a ghost story for The Times in 50 words and win £200 worth of books (selected for you, not by you) and a signed set of Susan Hill’s ghost stories. Email or post by 5 pm on Tuesday 23 Oct, UK and ROI residents only. Full details here. For tips from Susan Hill on writing to spook, read her article online.

A fun challenge that may plant the seed for a short story or novel further down the line… Good luck!

Spellbound Magazine looking for fantasy stories and poetry

Spellbound is a quarterly e-zine, also available for download to e-reader, and is produced by small publisher Eggplant Literary Productions.  Aimed at children aged 8-12, each issue is themed around a different fantasy element.  The next theme if you are submitting between October and December is changelings and doppelgängers.  This is an American market and payment is 2.5c a word up to 2,500 words.  They also accept poetry.  Read the guidelines carefully and submit by email with your story in the body of the email, not as an attachment.
This looks like a fun market to try; I like the challenge of having a different theme to write for each quarter.  Just make sure you submit inside the reading period for your theme.

Gatwick Airport looking for children’s stories to broadcast

Now this sounds interesting.  Gatwick Airport have started broadcasting children’s stories on the audio social network SoundCloud (a sort of audio YouTube) and are looking for children’s authors to send them stories.  As far as I can see, they don’t pay, but the author retains the copyright which means you can send it elsewhere afterwards, plus you have, potentially, a huge audience for your work in the form of Gatwick Airport passengers.

They accept submissions by email only and you should specify whether your story is for the under 4s, 4-7, 7-9, 9-12 or 13+ age group.  Here are the submission guidelines.  You can also send them an excerpt from a novel if it makes sense as a stand-alone piece.

Thanks to Writers Online for the tipoff (like them on Facebook to get market tips and the latest writing news).

Cast of Wonders short story market – and an interview with a successful submitter

I am really pleased to come across yet another market for short stories for children.  This one is called Cast of Wonders and it takes the form of a weekly podcast of science fiction and fantasy short stories for young adults aged 12 to 17, read expertly by Graeme Dunlop.  They pay £5 per story at the moment but hope to pay more in future to attract good writers, although as listening to the podcasts is free they rely on donations.  The exciting thing about this market is that you have flexibility in terms of length and subject, as long as it fits into the sci fi fantasy genre and is suitable for the age group (think Hunger Games as a rough guide to content).  They also accept manuscripts from young authors (stage your age when submitting if you are under 18).

Submissions details are here and you need to send through their website.

One person who successfully submitted is Lucy Oliver, who has agreed to answer a few questions on the process and her writing journey.

What prompted you to submit to Cast of Wonders and how did you hear of them?
I found Cast of Wonders on Duotrope. I thought the site was very well designed and I liked the idea of Y/A podcasts.

Have you been published anywhere else?
I have been published in Take a Break, Fiction Feast, Cafelit, Stories for Children and various anthologies. I also won the Stylist Magazine Microfiction competition.

How important is persistence when you are submitting manuscripts? How do you stay motivated to keep trying?
It’s vital. But you do also need to be realistic. Writing is a skill and needs to be learned. It’s a long process. You do need to keep sending work out, but if it keeps coming back – try to work out why. A good critique by a third party can be extremely helpful.  The work itself keeps me motivated. If I had nothing accepted, I would still write. I couldn’t give up the sense of exhilaration you get when a story starts to work and suddenly, you’re there with your characters feeling all their emotions.

These new niche markets are exciting opportunities for writers and small publishers. How do you see the future of children’s publishing now that we are moving away from traditional ink and paper?I think there will always be a place for paper and ink. I’ve got young children and they’re not into e-books. They like pictures and the fun of turning the pages. I think teenagers however, would be much more interested. The e-readers are smart and easy to use. A book is a book, no matter what method is used to read it and anything that encourages young readers is good.

And finally, when will your story be on Cast of Wonders and what is it called?
It is called, ‘Living Clay,’ and should be on site on the 18th May, but the exact date is still to be confirmed.

Thanks Lucy.

Cast of Wonders is a venture of Wolfsbane Publishing who also produce the horror podcast Cast Macabre.  I visited their website/blog but found myself wading through spam comments that outnumbered the content many times over.  Get yourselves a spam filter, guys!

Market for children’s short stories – Story Station

Story Station is a part of viatouch.com which is a website of resources for teachers and parents.  An American market, they pay 1c per world for short stories for children and young adults of between 1,500 to 3,000 words.  Full submission guidelines can be found here, but basically they are looking for quality short stories with strong plot lines, a child protagonist or child character (not necessarily the viewpoint character) and an upbeat ending.  If you read a few of the stories on there you will see that there is some quirky, original stuff as well as classic adventures but avoid the nastier end of horror.  I was impressed by the quality.  Maybe you can do just as well?  Email submissions are preferred and they aim to respond within a month.

Another market for children’s short stories – Alfie Dog Limited

New e-publishers Alfie Dog Limited are looking for short stories to make available for download on their website, www.alfiedog.com.  Submissions details are at http://alfiedog.com/submissions/ and http://alfiedog.com/submissions/submission-process/.  Authors will receive just under half of the download fee, so for a 39p short story the author will receive 16p per download.

The publisher  is aiming at an international audience and is has mentioned that she would love to see more children’s stories, although she considers any age group or genre.   If you fancy dipping your toe in the electronic waters but don’t want to go it alone, this could be a market for you.

Knowonder! looking for children’s short stories

Knowonder!If you like writing short stories for children you’ll know they are hard to place, so I was chuffed to see in this month’s Writers’ News that the online magazine Knowonder! publishes a new story every day and is open to submissions.

Knowonder is dedicated to promoting reading and communication involving parents and children together. Their short stories are designed to be read aloud by the parent.  They are looking for exciting, eventful narratives in the third person, past tense only, between 500 and 2000 words long and aimed at children between 3 and 10 years old.  A look at previous stories shows that as well as printing original work they also have extracts from Little Women and Anne of Green Gables, retellings of fairy tales and fables, and Beatrix Potter and Hans Christian Anderson stories, which should give you a clue as to the sort of style and themes they are looking for.

You should read the submission information very carefully.  Note above all that this is a US site so your work should make sense to American children (eg your character should not be walking along the pavement eating a jam sandwich!).  They do not want stories about every day situations (such as walking along the pavement eating a jam sandwich).  Stories should be action-driven and dynamic.  I highly recommend writing something new for this market rather than trying to use existing material.

With a new story being printed every day, there is a great opportunity to get published here.  Payment is between 25 and 50 US dollars depending on length.  Submit only through the form on the site.  The additional information in the third section of the submission page on writers’ guidelines is well worth a read for any aspiring children’s author.

Children’s publishers accepting unsolicited manuscripts

* UPDATED JANUARY 2017 *

You can’t get published without an agent, and you can’t get an agent without being published – or so the adage goes. Thankfully, there are still a few children’s book publishers who are happy to wade through the ‘slush pile’, that teetering tower of manuscripts we imagine fill up a corner of the office, each one representing an agent-less writer who is hoping against hope that they might be plucked from obscurity. So in the spirit of writerly comradeship here is my current list of writer-friendly children’s fiction publishers in the UK who still accept unsolicited manuscripts.  Check their website guidelines and submit away, but please do correct me if I’ve made any errors or incorrect assumptions. NB   Where there is a link, I have endeavoured to take you, the linkee, to the submissions guidelines page of the publisher’s website; where that is not possible I have linked to the main website page.


Andersen Press Ltd Anderson Press publish picture books of approximately 500 words (1K max), juvenile fiction of 3-5K and older fiction of up to 75K.  They require a synopsis and 3 sample chapters, hard copy only, and aim to reply within 2 months.  They use a standard rejection slip and reply promptly.


Bridge House Bridge House is a small press which specialises in themed anthologies of short stories, often for charity.  They are occasionally closed to submissions but check the website for future anthology details.  May be unsuitable for ‘darker’ material.


Buster Books An imprint of Michael O’Mara Books, Buster Books publish children’s non-fiction and activity books as well as a small range of fiction (but no picture books).  Submission details are sparse so try the usual three chapters plus synopsis and covering letter/email.  You can submit by post or by email and they ask you to include an envelope if you would like your paper manuscript returned, but they can’t guarantee a response.  Again, probably best to assume the usual procedure and submit elsewhere after three months if you haven’t heard back.


Candy Jar Books Candy Jar are a small independent publisher with a self publishing arm.  They accept a small amount of children’s fiction but not picture books.  Send the first three chapters, synopsis and covering letter by post or using the form provided on the submissions page.  Response time isn’t mentioned.


Crooked Cat – check website for next submissions window Crooked Cat is a small UK publisher which accepts, amongst other types of fiction, young adult fiction for its Silver range, up to a maximum of 90,000.  Watch the website for submission windows and only submit at the specified times.  Send a covering letter with brief bio, details of the genre, wordcount, readership and plans for promotion; a 2 page synopsis; and the first 3 chapters (to max of 10K words) in a Word document.


Curious Fox A new publisher who released their first titles in Spring 2013, Curious Fox are looking for “bold, fun and imaginative” fiction for age 3 upwards and develop a lot of their books in-house.  Send them sample chapters and a resume by email and expect a response only if they are interested.


Dinosaur Books Dinosaur Books are a small indie publisher looking for exciting fiction for the 5-12 year old readership with a traditional feel – see their wonderfully illustrated Dinoteks books for an example.  No picture books or rhyming books.  They prefer email submissions if possible and you should include a covering letter, a short synopsis of the book and the first three chapters.  They don’t accept picture books at the moment but love author-illustrators.  They aim to reply within three months so if you haven’t heard by then, it’s a no this time round.


Fat Fox –  CURRENTLY CLOSED TO CATCH UP BUT WATCH THIS SPACE – Fat Fox published their first books in 2014.  They are looking for picture books, young fiction (6-9 approx), fiction (9-12) and young adult (12-14) to produce as high quality paper books and e-books.  Submissions should consist of a good one page covering letter, synopsis, the full text of the book if it is a picture book (no illustrations) and the first three chapters plus final wordcount of longer books.  Send these as Word documents to the email address given on the submissions page.


Fledgling Press This is a Scottish company that focuses on debut authors writing a variety of fiction including YA.  If you’re Scottish too that will help!  You should send three chapters and a short synopsis by email and they aim to reply within 6 weeks.  If accepted your book will be placed on a longlist for possible publication.  Note they do not want sci fi.


Floris Books This Scottish publisher accepts postal submissions for its Picture Kelpies, and Kelpies range of books for 6-9 and 8-12 year olds.  Books should be between 30 and 60K words and you should expect to hear back within 3 months.  Note: only approach if you are a Scottish writer or your book has a Scottish setting and/or theme.


Flying Eye Books Flying Eye Books are an imprint of publishing house Nobrow and are committed to producing a selection of high quality, visually appealing children’s fiction and non-fiction. Submission guidelines are sparse: email them your work and they will get back to you as soon as they can.


Frances Lincoln (Quarto Group)  This well-established publisher publishes picture books, young fiction (6-9 years) and novels (9-14 years) and are looking for exceptional writing that really stands out.   They are part of the Quarto publishing group so submission requirements are on the Quarto website.  Submit by email only with the specific information listed, including a signed submission agreement.


Grimlock Press This indie publisher has an unusual submissions procedure involving peer review on the site, so you need to register then upload your submission – first three chapters and synopsis – rather than emailing or posting it. Take a look at the site to familiarise yourself with the process.


Hogs Back Books This small publisher specialises in picture books for up to age 10.  Send your manuscript by post or email – full text for picture books, first three chapters and synopsis for young adult.  Paper submissions will not be returned so just include an SAE or email address for a reply.  View the catalogue on the site to get an idea of what they publish.


Hot Key Books This exciting publisher is looking for novel submissions for aged 9-19.  They accept email submissions and, unusually, ask for the full manuscript plus synopsis (which makes sense for an e-submission).  Submission requirements are fairly sparse but the comments section on the page indicates that they reply in 3-4 months if they are interested.


Maverick Maverick publish a range of lively and colourful picture books.  They are looking for quirky, interesting reads with strong storylines.  Note that the maximum length is 650 words and preferably less!  Also no illustrations.  Unlike some picture book publishers they do accept stories in rhyme.  Email submissions are preferred as pdf or Word attachments together with a covering letter or email, but you can also submit by post.  Submissions are occasionally closed to allow them to catch up.


Mogzilla Mogzilla are an independent publishing company with educational links, currently looking for historical fiction only for age 6-15 years.  They ask for proposals to be emailed and they will then request the manuscript if they are interested, either by post or in pdf form, so don’t send them a manuscript unless you have had a proposal accepted.


Nosy Crow Nosy Crow is a relatively young publisher that is going from strength to strength.  Keen to embrace the latest technologies, they accept manuscripts for readers up to age 12 (think family-orientated rather than edgy).  They ask for a short synopsis and the first chapter (or full text if it’s a picture book) plus a covering letter about your work.  They accept by email (preferred) or post.  If you haven’t heard back within 6 months, you can assume it’s a no


O’Brien Press This Irish publisher accepts picture books of less than 1K words, and fiction for 6+, 8+, 10+ and 13+.  They ask for a synopsis and 2 or 3 sample chapters – full text for picture books – by post only.  Although they state they do not return unsuccessful submissions, they did return mine.  Also note that if you do send an SAE don’t use English stamps!  They aim to reply within 8-10 weeks.


Pants on Fire Press This US publisher is a small independent ’boutique’ publisher keen to expand and explore new areas of technology as well as traditional printing.  They accept submissions from the UK and signed Welsh horror author Craig Jones to a four book deal.  They are currently accepting unsolicited manuscripts for picture, middle grade (equivalent to the 8-12 age readership in the UK) and young adult books.  Send an email with the first three chapters in the body of the email, plus the information they ask for on the submissions page (don’t include any attachments or your email will be deleted!).  Also check out the specific details for middle grade and young adult.


Penguin Random House Ireland The children’s division of Penguin is accepting unsolicited manuscripts in all areas of children’s fiction and non-fiction apart from picture books.  They prefer email submissions, and ask for a short covering email with a Word attachment which should be one document containing the cover letter (again), short synopsis, and the work itself in its entirety.  Read the guidelines carefully and format the email title as they request.  Response time is three months.  You can submit by post but should provide an email address for response and don’t expect the manuscript back.  The children’s editor, Claire Hennessy, is happy to answer any queries via Twitter (@clairehennessy).


Piccadilly Press Piccadilly Press specialise in contemporary fiction for 6+, 8-12 and 11-15 year olds.  They also publish picture books of between 500 and 1K words (32 pages).  The accept email submissions only and you should send the whole manuscript and a synopsis.  They will only respond if they are interested but don’t give a timescale, so I would assume after 6 months that it’s a no.


Strident Strident are looking for books for the 5-8, 7-10, 8-12 and YA age groups.  They don’t accept picture books.  Do not send the usual submissions package but email with information about your book as outlined on the submissions page on the website.  This should include a blurb you have written yourself (imagine the back of a book – how would the book be described which would make you want to read it?).  They will then contact you in around 3 months if they wish to take your submission further.


Stripes Stripes are owned by the same company as Little Tiger Press and they publish books for readers aged 6-12 and young teenagers.  They accept email submissions only which should consist of a covering letter, a detailed synopsis and the first 1000 words.  Do not send picture books.  Expect a reply only if they are interested.


Sweet Cherry Publishing – SUBMISSIONS CURRENTLY CLOSED – This independent Leicester-based publisher accepts manuscripts for all ages but is ideally looking for potential series or collections.  You can submit by post or email, or use the form on the submissions page and upload your manuscript.  You should include the first three chapters (or 3 picture books), a covering letter, a synopsis, and brief outlines of future books in the series.  They aim to reply within 10 weeks.  Unlike the majority of publishers, they do not pay royalties but an up-front fee, discussed on acceptance.


Tamarind Part of Random House, Tamarind was set up to redress the balance of ethnicity in children’s literature by promoting books with black, Asian or mixed heritage characters.   They prefer to be approached via an agent but will consider ‘exceptional’ unagented manuscripts; read their submissions guidelines which also suggestions word count and possible subjects  You can submit by post or email and should send them a covering letter/email, a synopsis and the first three chapters.  Picture books can be sent in their entirety without illustrations and you should avoid using animal characters but keep to the ethos in the guidelines.


Tango Books Ltd – WEBSITE UNDER CONSTRUCTION – Tango publish novelty books for age 1-8 with an international element.  They accept manuscripts by post or email and you should include the full text up to 1000 words and a brief author biography.  You should hear back from them within a month.


Templar Publishing – Best known for the wonderful ‘ology’ books, Templar accept picture book and novelty book manuscripts by post only and aim to reply within 3 months.


Top That! Publishing plc – Top That! specialises in children’s picture and activity book and internet-linked fiction.  Their submission guidelines are brief and advise you to study their catalogue (on the website) before submitting as they are very specialised.  They prefer email submissions but will accept postal manuscripts with a contact email address (no returns).  Email attachments should be under 1MB.  If you don’t hear back within 8 weeks then you can assume you have been unsuccessful.  Top That specifies no similtanous submissions (ie don’t submit to other publishers at the same time).


Walker Books A big name in the picture book publishing world, Walker don’t generally accept unsolicited work, but what they will accept is illustrated manuscripts – so if you are a writer/illustrator you have an opportunity to submit.  Use the email address given to send the whole document as an attachment using Word for the text and jpegs or pdfs for the pictures.  You can also submit by post with a dummy copy and/or typed manuscript but do not send original pictures, only copies.  They will only respond if interested.


Short Stories

Cricket Media submissions

The US-based Cricket family of children’s print and digital magazines includes Babybug for up to three years, Ladybug for 3-6 years, Spider for 6-9, Cricket for 9-14 and Cicada for over 14s.  They all have different submission requirements so be sure to check out the word counts required by each one.

The Caterpillar Magazine

This beautifully produced Irish-based print magazine accepts stories up to 1,000 words as well as poetry and art.

Knowonder

Knowonder is an online site that promotes literacy.  They are occasionally open for submissions of short stories between 500-2000 words but do not pay.

Alfie Dog Fiction

This small but ambitious publisher aims to be the foremost choice for downloading short stories on the web, and payment comes as a percentage of the small download fee charged to customers.  Length is 500-10,000 words.

Cast of Wonders

This site is a little different and features young adult fantasy stories up to 6,000 words recorded as podcasts.  See this blog post for more details and an interview with a Cast of Wonders author
Catalogues


When submitting to publishers it is worth looking through their current catalogue to see what they are accepting at the moment.  If you can’t find a link to a catalogue from the main site, try googling the publisher’s name, “catalogue”, pdf and the current year.  I have easily found quite a few catalogues this way.