Defining “Unsolicited Manuscripts”

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Mar 22 2012

When a publisher doesn’t except “unsolicited manuscripts”, does that mean they will only except an ms or query from an agent?

Below is some information I’ve found. Can you verify if it’s true or not?

“No unsolicited manuscripts” does not mean you can’t send something to these publishers. (Those who are truly closed will say something like “Not accepting submissions.”) “No unsolicited” just means you must send them a one-page QUERY first. If they like your idea and feel your book is a possible fit for their list, they will reply to your letter inviting you to send your manuscript. Then, WHEE! Suddenly you’re sending a solicited manuscript.

This is one of those questions that’s hard to answer without more specifics, but I’ll do what I can. Unsolicited manuscripts would mean specifically that you don’t send any manuscript unless it’s been requested. That could mean that the publisher accepts queries first and will request manuscripts, or it could mean that they don’t want anything unsolicited.

Most publishers (and I say most because I suppose there are some smaller publishers that might not like working with agents) will accept submissions from agents, but even agents tend to contact editors first before simply sending off a manuscript.

If the publisher has submission guidelines on their website, but they say “no unsolicited manuscripts,” then they will expect a query first. If they have no guidelines for submissions it’s likely they aren’t accepting unsolicited submissions of any kind, and that includes queries.


On a related topic, please note that Kim Lionetti has closed to all queries in an effort to catch up on submissions and any unanswered queries she’s received to date. This is only temporary. Kim will be opening again once she’s all caught up. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please see our submission guidelines if you’d like to submit to one of our other agents.


10 responses to “Defining “Unsolicited Manuscripts””

  1. Avatar ivanpope says:

    I'm amazed that you'd bother to comment on such an illiterate query without even mentioning that the writer probably has bigger problems than whether an agent is accepting submissions or not!

    1. When a publisher doesn't except "unsolicited manuscripts"
    The word you want is 'accept'. Except means to leave out.

    2. You can't say 'can you verify if it's true' because verify means to establish the truth. The statement is a tautology (saying the same thing twice)

    Definition of VERIFY

    : to establish the truth, accuracy, or reality of

  2. Avatar Julie Daines says:

    I agree with ivanpope. Wow.

  3. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Wow, you two are nit-picky…must be exhausting to always edit and point out the flaws of others.

    Try not to stress yourselves out next time.

  4. Avatar Beth says:

    Actually, this question came up @ SCBWI national con in August. An editor for a big six imprint said unsolicited meant only from an agent, but she didn't care if it was someone she knew or not. But I found this response helpful.

  5. Ah, that clears up a few things. Thanks so much!

  6. I've always had an idea and yet still wondered just in case the information I was given was wrong. Thanks for sharing this with us. 🙂

  7. Avatar Dale Bishop says:

    I've always been curious about "multiple submissions."

    Thanks for establishing the truth, accuracy, and reality of "unsolicited manuscripts."

  8. Avatar Anonymous says:

    I typed "unsolicited manuscripts" into google and this was the first link that came up. A literary agency with staff who don't know the difference between except and accept is not worth nay more of my time. Good day.

  9. Avatar Anonymous says:


    There are two ways to interpret this sentence; one is your way, the other is according to the query itself: 'can you verify if it's true'

    1. It is a question, not a statement. Therefore should be accompanied by a '?' – 'Can you verify if it's true?'

    2. To verify if something is true, means to establish whether or not what is said is actually the truth. How it is read and understood by me, is the person is questioning whether or not what is said is actually the truth and is asking for evidence to prove it is truth.

    3. One cannot be pedantic without proper reasoning, but good try 🙂

  10. Avatar jfaust says:

    Anonymous: Please note that the material in italics is a direct quote from a reader. We don't usually edit those.

    As to the grammar, typos, etc in my own posts, I have asked forgiveness in the past for any and all errors. I tend to write these quickly, when I have time between client work, and therefore there are errors. I have no editor.

    All that being said. I enjoy discourse on all of my posts so thanks for that.