Calls for submissions

We are receiving submissions of prose pamphlets for adults from 30 January – 6 February 2024.

In this round of submissions, we will only be accepting proposals for Life Writing/Creative Non-Fiction books and Novellas. We are keen to see any translation proposals fitting into these categories too. We are not looking for short story collections in this round.

Please do not send us proposals for poetry pamphlets or children’s literature (poetry or prose) in this window. We will invite proposals for these genres in our summer open call.

We will update this page with further information and links in January. In the meantime, you can find all the information about the kind of work we usually look to publish and how to submit your writing to us on this page.

You can also ask us any questions you have via our social media and in-person Q&A sessions on the following dates:

Instagram Q&A: view highlights

X (Twitter) Q&A: Tuesday 30 January 2024

Birmingham in-person drop in Q&A: Voce Books, Digbeth, 2-5pm Saturday 3 February 2024

The Emma Press is an independent publisher specialising in poetry, short fiction and children’s books. It was founded in 2012 and is based in Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham, UK. We publish poetry, short-form prose, and books for children. We have a growing list of translations which includes titles from Guatemala, Latvia, Estonia, Indonesia, Spain and the Netherlands. We are open to submissions once every half year. If you come across The Emma Press and you’ve missed the most recent window by a hair, you’ll only have to wait 6 months max until the next window.

The rest of this page includes all the information you will need to submit. You can also download this same information in an Easy-Read PDF we have created – click the button below to view.

Eligibility

  • We have a ‘no agents’ policy. We see The Emma Press as a place where future stars can gain a platform that enables them to get an agent, or for more established writers to take a sidestep on a side project. 
  • We accept submissions from anywhere in the world so long as the work is written in or translated into English.

We encourage you to read some of our previous publications, so you can get a sense of what we like and explain with practical examples in your proposal how you see your work fitting in with our current range. The curated Emma Press Bundles are our suggested readings for anyone considering submitting – take a look.

What we offer authors

  • Advances: We will offer a small advance on books we choose to publish from the 2024 calls for submissions, as well as complimentary author copies and royalties. £50 for poetry pamphlets and children’s books, and £100 for prose for adults.
  • Editing: We work with our authors to get their work into the best shape possible, and we recognise that different manuscripts and authors can require different approaches. 
  • Production: We provide illustration when the work calls for it, and allow authors to have a level of input into construction of the book they might not often get from bigger publishers. However, we have an editorial vision which is as important as the author’s own vision. It’s a collaborative process 🙂.
  • Promotion: We will work with authors to publicise books in the lead-up to and after publication. We are a small team and publish quite a few books each year, so promotion will be a joint effort between our team and the author.
  • Prizes: We will submit books to appropriate prizes where possible.

♦ How to submit

Please read the general guidance here to help you prepare proposal. Links will only be active during submission windows.

Submission Steps

    1. Write your proposal! There are guides and suggestions on how to structure a prose proposal here.
    2. Purchase a pay-what-you-can submission ticket from our webshop and make a note of your number order (you’ll be asked to enter it later).
    3. Prepare your proposal and sample pages (or full manuscript) in a single document in .DOC, .ODT or PDF format. Never .pages!!
    4. Upload your proposal and sample pages to Submittable. You will be asked to fill out a form to help us find out a bit more about you and your work, and to write the number of your pay-what-you-can submission fee order.

Response time

We will aim to respond to everyone who has submitted within 1 submission cycle, i.e. 6 months. If we think your proposal could be a good fit for The Emma Press, we will get in touch with you to request the full manuscript or more information. We will publish shortlists from each submission window, alongside comments on what we loved about those works. We will select 1-2 books to publish from each call for submissions, and we will aim to publish books within 12-24 months of the full manuscripts being finalised. If we don’t think your manuscript is for us, we will send you a response to that effect but we’re afraid it won’t be individualised and we can’t provide specific feedback. We hope to be able to do more for shortlisted authors in the future.  Thank you for trusting us with your submissions! We can’t wait to read your work. We will keep you updated on our review progress via our newsletters.

Low-Income Writers from the Midlands

We are now able to offer additional support for any Midlands-based writers on low-income.

In partnership with The Literacy Consultancy, any author identifying themselves in that criteria will be automatically considered for development opportunities when they submit their work to us in a submissions window.

Find out more here.

Good luck!

We are really looking forward to reading the submissions and finding our future publications. Submissions in Jan/Feb 2024 will first be read by one of our trusted authors and editors who will select a longlist with the Emma Press team (see who we are here). Together, we decide on a shortlist. We aim to respond to all submissions within six months. Scroll down to ‘Response time’ for more details.

Submission Guidelines

We’d like to see a proposal and a sample for each submission, or else a proposal and full manuscript if you have it. Your proposal document should tell us: 

  • What your book is/what you are trying to do with it/what themes you explore in it
  • Who you think would enjoy reading it/who it would really speak to
  • Why you think it would be a good fit for The Emma Press
  • What are your expectations for publication – what do you hope will happen if you have this published?
  • How you would help us publicise your book

There are guides and suggestions on how to structure a proposal here.

CREATIVE NON-FICTION/LIFE WRITING

  • We are looking to build our collection of creative non-fiction and are keen to proposals that speak to existing titles in this series: Tiny Moons: A Year of Eating in Shanghai by Nina Mingya Powles and How Kyoto Breaks Your Heart by Florentyna Leow. Our non-fiction titles contain around 15-20,000 words.
  • If you are submitting a sample (rather than your full manuscript), please include at least three essays/chapters, which should give us a flavour of the book as a whole.

NOVELLAS

  • We are keen to see novellas that would sit well with our existing adult fiction – you can get an idea of the themes and styles that excite us here.
  • We appreciate that novellas can vary in length, but we would be unlikely to publish any title much over 30,000 words from this submission round. Most of our current adult prose titles are approximately 15-20,000 words.
  • If your manuscript isn’t yet ready, you should submit at least the first third of your book and summarize the rest of the story.
  • Please include a synopsis (max. 400 words) outlining the narrative arc of your novel, setting, key characters and events. This isn’t a blurb – please do tell us about any plot twists, so we can get an idea of the book, especially if you are not submitting the whole manuscript.

For submissions of both creative non-fiction/life writing and novellas, please send us a proposal and sample pages (or the full manuscript if you have it) in a single document. 

*We’ve left this information here so you can prepare for our 2024 summer open call, but please note we will not be accepting poetry or children’s literature in our January-February 2024 call.*

POETRY PAMPHLETS

Please send us a proposal and a sample of at least 10 pages of poems, or the full manuscript if you have it ready. 

  • If submitting a sample: We’d recommend you include your most striking pieces, which give a good flavour of the pamphlet as a whole.
  • If submitting a full manuscript: Bear in mind that our pamphlets contain a maximum of 23 pages of poetry, with a maximum of 30 lines on each page (this is without linebreaks/stanza breaks, i.e. if your poem is just one block of text). Do put some thought into the order you put your poems in, but don’t agonise over it – nothing is set in stone.

CHILDREN’S POETRY (aimed at children no younger than 8 years old)

Please send us a proposal and a sample of at least 10 pages of poems, or the full manuscript if you have it ready. 

  • Advice for submitting a sample: Don’t feel restricted to the ordering you have in mind – we’d recommend you include your most striking poems, which give a good flavour of the pamphlet as a whole.
  • Advice for submitting your full manuscript: Bear in mind that our children’s poetry collections contain around 35-45 poems.

CHILDREN’S FICTION (aimed at children no younger than 8 years old)

Please send us a proposal and sample chapters (or the full manuscript if you have it).

  • Advice for submitting a sample: Include at least five chapters or stories, which should give us a flavour of the book as a whole.
  • Advice for submitting your full manuscript: Our children’s fiction books contain around 24,000 words.

Frequently-asked questions

Can I send you my manuscript or proposal outside of your submissions windows?

No. Please respect our submissions windows, as it’s the only way we are able to offer so many opportunities for writers to send us manuscripts. Unfortunately, we have to immediately delete any proposal emails we receive outside of our submissions windows, as it would take us too long to answer them all politely.

Can I send you my manuscript by post?

No. We do not have capacity to deal with these, and we have never asked for them, so please don’t send us your manuscripts in the post as they will go straight in the bin.

Are you accepting children’s picture book submissions?

No. We’re not looking for children’s picture book proposals at the moment, due to the production costs and the difficulty of selling them. We love picture books and would love to do more of them, so as soon as we figure out a way to make them work we will let you know.

Do the essay collections have to be themed?

No. They can be themed, or they can be wide-ranging in subject matter. However, the full collection should hang together well and make sense as a book, so have a think about how to achieve this.

I haven’t had any writing published before. Can I still submit?

Yes. We don’t require any previous publication history – the most important thing is that you have read widely in the genre you are writing in.

Does the writing need to be completely unpublished?

It’s fine if some (up to 1/3) of your essays/poems/stories have been previously published, but please do check with those publishers or publications that you still hold the rights to your poems and can licence us to publish them again with no additional payments or paperwork.  If you have published the majority of your book on your own blog or website, or through a self-publishing site or with a publisher in another country, do think about what you actually want out of us – after all, you’ve already done all the hard work yourself and essentially the book is already published. We want to be involved in the creation of the book, so it’s not just about us providing print services and distribution. 

How many books are you planning to publish a year?

Ideally we would publish 6-8 books a year, 2-4 of which would be children’s books.

How many manuscripts will you choose from each submission window?

We hope to find 1-2 manuscripts we want to publish from each window, but this isn’t set in stone.

I have a full-length collection of poems for adults. Can I submit this?

No, because we are only looking for manuscripts to join the existing series of Emma Press books.

Can I submit my poetry anthology?

No thank you, as we stopped doing poetry anthologies in 2020.

Will you consider translations?

Yes, we are always happy to see translations. Translators can submit multiple proposals (i.e. one per author). Please ensure that you have checked with the rights holder that World English rights are available before submitting.

I’ve written a book with a friend. Can we submit as a pair?

Yes, if you can figure out how to fill in the Google form together (don’t just do one each), and be aware that you’ll split the advance, complimentary copies and royalties.

Can I submit more than one manuscript?

To try and keep numbers to a manageable level for the team, we are limiting submissions to one per author for every submissions window.  If you have multiple projects and you are struggling to decide what to submit, you might find it useful to read our upcoming newsletters and blogs about submissions.

Do you accept simultaneous submissions? i.e. Can I send my manuscript for consideration by other places too? 

Yes, that’s fine – just drop us an email at hello@theemmapress.com if you need to withdraw your entry.

Do I have to arrange for my book to be illustrated?

Not at all – depending on our finances, either Emma will illustrate it or she will commission someone else to illustrate it.

I don’t live in the UK – can I still submit?

Yes, we welcome international submissions.

When will I hear back about my submission?

We send updates on our progress in our newsletter, so that is the best place to look if you’re wondering when you might hear back from us. We do reply to everyone, and we read all of the submissions very thoroughly, so thank you for being patient with us.

Will I get feedback if my submission is unsuccessful?

We will email everyone to let them know the verdict on their submission, but we can’t offer individual feedback.

What happens if you do like my writing?

We will let you know by email and take it from there. We will probably have some suggestions for tweaking or developing your writing further, so we’ll explain that all in the email.

Will I get any money?

Authors get an initial advance, royalties and ten complimentary copies. We apply for PEN grants to pay translators.

And finally . . . We only publish writing which we utterly love and believe in, which means the matter of what we publish will always come down to our personal tastes. If we can’t publish your work, it’s not a judgement on the quality of your writing so much as a reflection of our personal preferences in writing. If you would like to get a sense of our tastes, do take a look at the books we have published so far.

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