Last time we ran this, we received a little under 1,200 book proposals. That vast pile took a lot of reading, mostly in our spare time. Of those, however, a good 300 were rejected pretty much immediately, because they broke the rules.
So we insist: please, please read what follows carefully. If your book doesn’t follow these guidelines, it will be more likely to be rejected.
If you have a question, read these notes again and also have a look in the already-answered comments. If you’re sure it’s not been answered, post it in the comments below and we’ll both make it visible and reply as soon as are able. (Note: We won’t be able to answer questions on the FAQ that are posted elsewhere or emailed directly to us.)
We want novels
We don’t want poems, plays, collections of short stories, comic books, a clutch of linked novellas, non-fiction textbooks, vignettes, oratorios or themed haiku. The work must not use someone else’s setting, or be set in the world of a famous TV show or movie.
Previously published OK?
No. Only unpublished novels will be considered. If you’ve self-published the whole book, sold it or given it away previously, even if you’ve substantially rewritten it, it’s not for us. If it’s book two or whatever of a series we can’t take it. If you’ve shown off a small portion online or in an anthology that’s not a problem.
I have an agent so…
Get your agent to send it through the normal channels, not this event.
If there’s two of you, for example, who co-wrote the novel that’s not a problem. Only one of you need send the proposal in.
We’re only accepting novels between 70,000 and 130,000 words. No exceptions.
Yes, that’s an arbitrary number but that’s what we’re after, and we’re going to be strict. Shorter than that, we’re into novella territory, and longer than that it will probably need trimming anyway. Yes yes, Angry Robot has published books longer and shorter than that, but that’s irrelevant. If you’re over or under, you’ll be rejected.
We publish books for an adult readership. So, no children’s books, middle-grade, no young adult. There will be grey areas – there are plenty of books for adults that include teenage characters without being teen-specific YA – but we’re not going to debate it.
Full manuscripts only
We want you to send us the entire novel, so it will need to be finished. If we contract it for publishing, there will be the usual editing rounds, but as you can imagine the better it is, the less reasons we will have to reject it.
Which languages are acceptable?
We can only consider books written in English.
And something to note: if English isn’t your native language, we’d really appreciate it if you can ensure that your writing, spelling and grammar are as strong as they can be before sending your book in. We’ve had the disappointing experience in the past of reading a promising synopsis of a book that was unpublishable because of the poor quality of the language.
How should I format my manuscript?
We want everything in one single document. Don’t attach multiples files – that will be an instant reject.
Make one Word document. Use Times New Roman, 12 point, double-line spaced, left aligned. Include page numbers. Use page breaks for clarity if you like. Make sure chapter headings and section breaks are clear; centred, left, right, whatever.
Include the following, in the following order, in your one document:
- Your name and contact details.
- The name of your book, and the word count.
- A one-sentence summary of your book.
- A synopsis of the book: maximum 2 pages as formatted above. Just the basics.
- If the book is the first of a series, summarise further volumes in one paragraph.
- Tell us about yourself in one paragraph. Include anything notable in the SF community, and any social media links
- Finally, the full text of the novel.
Do you require a query letter?
No. Put what you have to say in your proposal, as detailed above.
Illustrations, photos, and/or maps?
No. Do not include any in the Word document, do not send separately.
Resend proposals rejected in previous Open Door events?
No, do not send anything we’ve seen before, even if substantially rewritten.
How many proposals can I send?
One. If it’s part of a planned series, it must be the first book.
Judging by last time’s huge pile of entries, we are going to be inundated. So if you want to also send your novel around to agents or other publishers at the same time, feel free to do so. Just remember to let us know if you go with another publisher, you lucky thing.
What type of books do you really want?
We want Science Fiction and Fantasy.
These are wide genres with many, many subgenres, so to be clear: we want anything broadly in the realm of science fiction and fantasy. This includes: alternate history, military SF, space opera, epic fantasy, steampunk, cyberpunk, dieselpunk, silkpunk, anypunk, grimdark, utopian fiction, modern fantasy, cli-fi, unclassifiable SF/fantasy mash-ups, and so on. To reflect our interests and to help divvy up the workload for our readers, when you submit, you will be asked to indicate whether your book is SF, Fantasy or WTF?! (i.e., somewhere inbetween).
We do enjoy getting submissions that are hard to classify, especially if they’re innovative blends of various genres. It’s the Angry Robot way. So if you’ve written a science fiction novel set in an unexpected location – the Stone Age, or Urban Outfitters, say – great; maybe you’ve found a way to write a novel that combines your interests in cryogenics, social media, and the Mongol Horde. Don’t be afraid to send us your extremely unusual science fiction or fantasy novel – as long as it would sit in that section of the bookshop, we’ll consider it.
Angry Robot tries hard to find and publish fiction from a wide range of ethnic, gender, sexuality and lifestyle perspectives, but we know we can do more. We are also aware that some folks feel that their voice is unlikely to be heard. We are deliberately saying: We want to see diverse books, so please don’t hold back.
We’ve also posted some more detailed discussion from various members of the Robot family about what they are especially looking for – see the links elsewhere.
What books do you really not want?
We do not want novels that would fall into the Horror, Occult or Supernatural category, alas. We have nothing against horror novels, but we’re not looking for any. If your horror novel has also got science fiction or fantasy elements, to be honest that’s still a problem. A fantasy novel with horror elements might be okay, but a horror novel with fantasy elements will be declined. In the end, we know this is a grey area, so don’t worry away at it – use your best judgement and submit it, or don’t.
We don’t want books that are only very loosely “science fiction” or “fantasy”. A thriller using a few SF trappings is not for us. For example, if you’re written a spy novel book that happens to feature cloning or artificial intelligence, but otherwise is almost entirely a realistic caper set in 21st century USA or wherever, that’s not for us. The key here is that your novel needs to be primarily in the science fiction or fantasy categories. No Dan Brown-clones, no occult historical artefacts or Biblical secrets. No books featuring famous mythological figures or legendary gods having adventures out-of-time (or in their time).
Humorous books will struggle. One person’s idea of hilarious (and frankly, this almost always involves a talking toaster, oh hold our aching sides) is another person’s stony-faced torture. Don’t.
We’re not looking for erotica that just happens to use an SF/F setting. Just because it’s a book about hot sex between robots doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a science fiction novel.
It should go without saying that we are not looking for crime books, thrillers, romances, literary novels, historical sagas or anything outside of SF/F – but every time we get sent them. Instant rejection.
Support from fellow Open Door folks
The Absolute Write website is full of advice for writers old and new, so you should have that bookmarked already. Every time we run one of these, they kindly host a thread on their forum dedicated to the Open Door. Angry Robot author Peter McLean, discovered via an earlier Open Door, is one of the moderators and other AR authors have been known to pop by, but please note that we Robots stay away except in an emergency. Also, it is an independent website and not connected to us, so you use it at your own risk. Anyway, you may find it helps ease the anxiety of waiting, just sayin’.
We are looking for books to buy for Angry Robot to publish as part of its regular schedule. There’s no quota – we might pick up five authors or two, just one or even none if nobody impresses us. The reward will be the offer of a book contract, to publish your novel (as physical book, ebook and optionally an audiobook) in the US and UK. This will pay you a professional advance and royalties, and it will be a standard AR contract.
If we do offer to publish your novel, you are more than welcome to then sign with an agent to oversee arranging the final deal and contract, or sign with us directly if you prefer. This is not work-for-hire and you will retain all copyright in your work.
So good luck! We know it’s tough to get your foot on even the lowest rung of the publishing ladder. Hold tight, you can do this.
Submitting Your Manuscript
Use the form right here, which will allow you to upload your manuscript. The door will close again at midnight on 31st December 2017 (GMT). If you make a mistake, re-send your submission and we’ll delete the older version – but even better if you double-check everything before you press Submit.
If you have further questions, post them here and we’ll answer them as soon as we are able. (Don’t email or Tweet them at us.) Thanks for all the kind words too – we read them all even if we don’t make them visible.