Please note: we are currently closed to general short story submissions.
Literary Submissions – How to submit your Novel, Novella or Short Story
Fairlight Books is open to literary submissions of short stories, novellas (between 25,000 and 50,000 words) and novels. We are happy to accept submissions of longer fiction direct from authors.
Literary submissions should be sent to us at: Submissions@FairlightBooks.com
Please mark the submission clearly to state whether it is a literary submission of a short story or longer fiction. If you are sending longer fiction, please send the first 10,000 words only.
Please include a short letter or email telling us about yourself and your writing (often called a ‘Query Letter’). For longer fiction, please also include a one-page Synopsis of the novella’s or novel’s storyline.
If you are submitting your manuscript directly to us, we would please ask you to take a few minutes to read through the submissions guidelines below, which apply generally, as well as those which apply to submissions of short stories or longer fiction respectively.
We look forward to reading your writing!
General Submission Guidelines
What counts as ‘literary’ fiction? That’s not an easy question to answer. But for us, generally, it’s about the quality of the writing. We don’t mind if that story contains an alien, or a ghost or two, if it is a mystery, if someone is murdered and someone else has to figure out who dun’ it, so long as your writing is of a good standard, the plot makes sense, your characters have some depth and are not two dimensional. But we’re not keen on erotica.
What should I put in the query letter and how long should it be? In the query letter, please just tell us a little about yourself and your writing. Whether you are new to writing, or previously published; whether you have self-published your novel or any previous novels; any awards or competitions you might have won for your writing. Don’t worry if you don’t have any awards and haven’t won any competitions, the point of the letter is to let us know where you are with your writing career. There aren’t any right or wrong answers. Don’t forget to include your contact details. Finally, the letter doesn’t need to be long – definitely less than one side of A4 (but not in font size 6!)
What type of documents should I send? We prefer a word document or if not, a PDF file.
When will you get back to me? We aim to respond to all literary submissions as soon as possible, certainly within 3 months. We will be able to publish only a small number of the stories and longer fiction we receive, so if we don’t think we can publish your writing, we will try and let you know as soon as possible. We don’t follow the ‘rule’ that you should only submit to one place at a time. Feel free to submit your writing widely – it stands the best chance of publication that way.
If you don’t take my writing, will you give me feedback? Unfortunately, with limited resources we aren’t able to give feedback for submissions that we are not taking forward to publication. However, there are some good companies out there who will read your writing and give you feedback for a fee. (There are also some not so good ones!) We would recommend Cornerstones Literary Consultancy as an established reputable manuscript reviewer.
We’d also highly recommend you think about taking a creative writing course if you haven’t taken one before – not only is it a great way to brush up your writing skills, but you also get exposure to lots of others writers and writing styles. Many writers’ circles (where writers meet to give feedback to each other) arise as a result of writers meeting each other on a writing course.
Can I send my submission in the post? We prefer email submissions, but if you would rather send your submission by post, then you can send it to: Submissions Team, Fairlight Books, Summertown Pavilion, 18 – 24 Middle Way, Oxford OX2 7LG.
Guidelines for Literary Submissions of Longer Fiction (including novels and novellas)
Can I send 10,000 words from different sections of my novel? We prefer to receive a section from the beginning of your book. You may think the middle bit is the best bit, but it won’t do justice to your novel if we only get that bit. So please send us the first 10,000 words.
Does it have to be 10,000 words exactly? Not at all! But please don’t send us more than 10,000 words. Anywhere between 8,000 and 10,000 words will be fine, so please feel free to break off where it feels most natural to you and the story.
What should I put in the Synopsis and how long should it be? A synopsis should be a summary of the events of the book, ideally in the same order in which they occur in the novel. Sometimes people will put a brief description of the book in the first paragraph, eg “This is a mystery about a man who…” and this can be helpful, and we don’t mind if you compare your writing / subject matter to another author’s. The way the synopsis is written can have a flavour of your writing style but that is not really important. What is more important is that the synopsis gives a clear description of the events of the book. An ideal synopsis should be about 1 side of A4 (but not in font size 6!).
Does it matter if my novel has been self-published? No. If you have previously self-published your novel and not been as happy with the results as you’d hoped, then we are fine for you to submit it to us for consideration for wider publication. We think that self-publishing is a fantastic innovation which has revolutionised the industry and empowered writers to connect directly with their readership. However, we recognise it’s not always an easy journey and that it may not be for everyone. With over 8 million books on the e-book platforms, it’s hard for quietly, well-written original fiction to find its way to an audience drowning under a deluge of romance / slasher / erotica genre series novels. And unless you want to work 24/7 becoming a marketing expert and sales person extraordinaire, it’s still quite tough to get self-published books accepted by the publishing industry’s distribution chain and stocked as physical copies in bookstores. Unlike some traditional publishers we don’t believe that if you have previously self-published your book, you’ve ‘muddied’ the waters. So long as your book follows the rest of the guidelines here, please feel free to submit it to us.
Guidelines for Literary Submissions of Short Stories
Is there a word count limit? Each submission should not exceed the 10,000-word limit. We do accept flash fiction.
Can I send multiple or simultaneous submissions? We accept up to three submissions of short stories at a time by the same author. Each story should preferably be in a separate document. If the submission is simultaneous (i.e. the story has been sent to more than one publisher or online magazine at the same time) you should notify us via e-mail if your work is accepted elsewhere first.
What about Rights? Please ensure that you have full ownership of the work you are providing and that it has not been plagiarised. If we publish your story, we will ask you for first exclusive rights to publication of the story, which means that the short story should not have been published before, either in an anthology or a magazine, online or in print.
Will you pay me for my story? Unfortunately, no. We don’t receive any payment from readers who read the story on the website, and we don’t place the stories behind a subscription based paywall like some online short story providers do. The aim of Fairlight Shorts is really to help promote the writers and the art of the short story and to make quality writing freely accessible to readers. (NB: This does not include novellas which we publish as longer fiction in the traditional way.)
Do I have to / can I pay for my short story to be published? No, please see the answer above.