The process of manuscript submission—a crucial part of the business of writing, but one that many authors would love to avoid—is streamlined by several Web startups. The relatively new online services were designed, in theory, to improve efficiency and, in some cases, to gauge consumer feedback. Because some of these online manuscript submission services were launched only recently, it’s difficult to predict how much success they’ll enjoy and exactly who will be reviewing the book manuscripts or sample chapters posted by writers.
Ostensibly, the goal of Web-based manuscript submission services is to make connections among authors, agents, and book publishers. Readers come into the mix if the hosted submissions can be viewed by the public. They might be required to register as members in order to gain access, but visitors to open manuscript submission sites can peruse, comment on, and sometimes rate the work of writers who hope to gain recognition by displaying their manuscripts on the Web.
The open manuscript submission services have taken their cues from YouTube, Digg, and MySpace. They now need to attract enough contributors to improve the odds that some of the submissions will stand out. They also must solve the riddle of crowdsourcing efforts to cull the best writing from what could be referred to as Web-based slushpiles. The open sites crowdsource the job by enlisting readers, including book publishing professionals, who sift through and sometimes comment on or rank the posted manuscripts. The fee-based sites leave the job of evaluating the manuscripts to those who subscribe.
If you’re looking for new writing from unknown authors, you can read the unpublished work submitted to the following online services; however, some of them are restricted to subscribers only:
Owned by HarperCollins, which launched the site earlier this year
, this online community is still in beta. You can request an invitation to become a member by registering online. There are no fees. The Authonomy Blog offers occasional updates as the service is tested and refined.
Authonomy Christian [Updated on January 6, 2013]
See the instructions on the Zondervan website.
This pricey subscription-based service is affiliated with Authorlink Press and Fusion Press.
A free online service, this site claims to have no affiliation with a publisher, producer, or agency.
Bookkus Publishing [Updated on May 8, 2012]
This Canadian company crowdsources the manuscript screening process in order to select books for publication.
Bowker Manuscript Submissions [Updated on April 29, 2010]
This fee-based service is designed to match authors with trade and higher education publishers.
In an exhibit hall at BookExpo America last month, I spoke to the representative of a small Christian book publisher who said her house’s editors checked this fee-based service weekly for manuscripts they might want to acquire. She said she recommended the service to aspiring authors, because the press she worked for charged a reading fee, which could be avoided when the author paid the slightly higher fee charged by ChristianManuscriptSubmissions.com to reach a potentially larger number of book publishers. The publishing houses said to use ChristianManuscriptSubmissions.com, a service of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, are listed on the site.
This service charges writers a monthly fee to make unsolicited submissions available to the publishers listed on the site. Publishers are also charged a subscription fee.
EWR: Literary Magazines [Updated June 21, 2013]
Only magazine and journal editors can view the work of writers who register at no charge to submit material that can be displayed for one month.
Figment [Updated January 6, 2013]
Merged with inkpop, this site (comparable to HarperCollins’ Authonomy) is devoted to the YA market.
InkTip [Updated on August 13, 2009]
This site provides a secure, searchable database of screenplays.
Inkubate [Updated on October 21, 2011]
Publishers and literary agents pay to read excerpts uploaded by writers.
Billed as an online publishing service, this site lets unpublished authors upload PDF manuscripts, which are converted to attractive ebooks or magazines that Issuu currently hosts at no charge. You can display Issuu ebooks on sites that enable Flash embeds, such as Facebook, Blogger, and MySpace. (This service resembles YouTube.)
Long Tale Press [Updated on August 13, 2009]
Writers submit excerpts from their manuscripts, and readers vote on which ones should be published.
Maui Writers Conference – Manuscript Marketplace
This fee-based service was one of the frontrunners. Currently closed to submissions, it might reopen in 2009.
Night Reading [Updated on May 1, 2011]
On this network, writers post samples of their manuscripts, then readers vote on which should be published as ebooks by Night Publishing.
This site lets readers download, rate, and comment on ebooks posted by members. It was founded and is managed by individuals with backgrounds in the technology industry.
PatronQuo.com [Updated on May 25, 2010]
In this free forum, writers submit their work, visitors track each manuscript’s popularity, and patrons are encouraged to contribute financial support.
Publishers’ Desk [Updated on October 3, 2011, and February 9, 2012]
This service charges writers an annual fee to upload samples of their manuscripts. Publishers and agents can view the posted writing samples for free. For Victoria Strauss’s opinion of the service, see “Publisher’s Desk: Display or Misplay?” on Writer Beware Blogs!
Pubmission [Updated on July 14, 2010]
Using this service, writers can upload sample chapters. Publishers and agents pay a fee to search the manuscripts. Writers also pay a fee each time they use the site to submit their work to the publishers that appear to be the best matches for their manuscripts.
For a fee, self-published authors who want to sell publication or performance rights can upload their books to this service.
Slush Pile Reader
Writers upload their manuscripts, and readers vote on which ones should be published.
Timbus Books [Updated on March 8, 2012]
Writers pay a monthly fee for this service, which makes their submission packages available for literary agents to view at no charge.
Though it calls itself an “online book publishing company,” this site could be a source of innovative writing. For one person’s opinion of the program, read the critique on Writer Beware Blogs!
Aspiring comic book creators can display their work by registering as members of this online community sponsored by DC Comics.
Remember that some well-known publishers, such as Avon, a HarperCollins imprint, accept email queries from aspiring authors. Using any sort of Web-based manuscript submission service is neither a requirement nor a recommendation; it’s an option for some adventurous writers.
Take the time to learn how to evaluate manuscript submission services by reading the tips posted on Writer Beware, a free consumer protection service provided by Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc.
If you’ve heard of other Web services whose primary purpose is manuscript submission (in contrast to book marketing, which is a different enterprise), please let me know what they are. I’ll be happy to add them to this list.
I’d also like to know what you think of these manuscript submission services and whether you would use (or have used) any of them. Feel free to include a link, if you have a manuscript hosted on one of these types of sites.