Literary Submissions

Literary Submissions – How to Submit Your Novel, Novella or Short Story

*Novel and novella submissions are closed for a brief reading period. We will update our website and social media once submissions reopen.*

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. We particularly encourage submissions from authors whose identities and perspectives are underrepresented in fiction publishing, including authors of an ethnic minority background and LGBTQ+ authors.

Literary submissions should be sent to us at:

Please mark the submission clearly in the subject line to state whether it is a literary submission of a short story, novel or novella.  If you are sending a novel or novella, 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 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, novels or novellas respectively.

Please submit only one novel, novella or short story at any one time.


General Submission Guidelines

You are looking for literary fiction. What counts as ‘literary’ fiction? That’s not an easy question to answer, because it’s a very subjective subject, but for us, generally, it’s about the quality of the writing and the originality of the story, novel or novella. The work might have a distinctive writing style in which the prose is, in some ways, pushing boundaries or it might have an experimental structure or narrative voice. It might have a traditional narrative style, but take the reader somewhere completely new.

Do you also consider genre or book club fiction? We are interested to receive work that sits between literary fiction and genre / book-club fiction, in which case we are looking for: compelling, three-dimensional characters; a plot that absorbs and surprises the reader; some originality to the treatment of the genre; and, in the case of historical fiction, a demonstration of an in-depth understanding of the period. We are also interested to receive genre-defying fiction which might contain elements of multiple genres, but blending them in an original way. Even if it is done really well, if your work is a classic example of a single genre (such as crime, thriller, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, romance, erotica etc), and particularly if it is one in a series, then it is probably not for us.

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 possible, a PDF file.

Can I send my submission in the post? We only accept email submissions.

When will you get back to me? We aim to respond to all literary submissions as soon as possible, certainly within three 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 to 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 – but please be sure to contact us and withdraw your submission if it is accepted elsewhere.

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 that 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 on your writing skills, but you also get exposure to lots of other 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.

What shall I do next if my submission is not accepted? We get asked this question a lot, so we commissioned Lynn Morrison, a marketing executive with more than twenty years of experience, to write these two books:

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How to Be Published

How To Be Published by Lynn Morrison is a comprehensive guide on different publishing options, from self-publishing to traditional publishing.

How to Market Your Book

How To Market Your Book by Lynn Morrison offers advice to authors on how to make the most of marketing schemes and what techniques they can employ to make their title a commercial success.

Guidelines for Literary Submissions of Longer Fiction (Including Novels and Novellas)

*Novel and novella submissions are closed for a brief reading period. We will update our website and social media once submissions reopen.*

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, e.g. ‘This is a mystery about a man who…’, which 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, including the ending.  An ideal synopsis should be about one 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 that it’s not always an easy journey and that it may not be for everyone. With over eight 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 salesperson 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 not have a minimum word count and are happy to consider 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 submitting 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 high-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.