We receive a lot of incredible submissions. Unfortunately, sometimes the project might be amazing but we have send that dreaded of all responses: the story is just not for us.
What does that mean anyway? We get it; it's vague.
So, what are we looking for? I'm glad you asked! Here are the top five things we look for when we review submissions for our manifest.
1. A well-written, well-developed plot.
The first critical ingredient, is--obviously--the story itself. It should be well-written and well-developed, meaning: it should have a clear beginning and end, clear climax, and clear resolution. Stories should come full circle, answering any questions and tidying up any loose ends along the way. Each book, even if it's part of a series, is its own little island of potential, and we look for projects that leave us wanting more from the author, but being satisfied when we see THE END.
2. Convincing, dynamic characters.
Characters are how we connect with a story. They don't have to be good guys, or even likable, but they should be genuine. Each character should bring something important to the plot and have a distinct personality, and they should contribute to the overall goal of the story. They are what give your story life through ideas, dialogue, personality, and motivations.
3. A fresh idea that sparks emotion.
At Black Spot Books, we publish speculative fiction, so we're not necessarily looking for warm fuzzies here. What we are looking for are stories that engage our senses--be they spooky, suspenseful, or downright uncomfortable. We look for stories that have the ability to bring out emotion--yes, even mixed emotions! Are we going to laugh? Cry? Shudder in terror? Sneak out of bed to lock our doors? Feel our heart race? We'd better.
4. A clean, formatted manuscript.
The best manuscripts to read are those that are clearly formatted according to our specifications. They don't have to be perfect--that's what our editing team is for--but they should be clean, proofread, and not contain any wacky formatting that we're just going to have to clean up later. And, your query letter and synopsis should give us the details we need to know, too!
5. An author who's eager to share.
No one can tell your story better than you can, so we love finding authors who want to participate in their success. We look for authors with a platform, meaning authors who are already actively on social media, building a following and talking about what we love most--great reads! Not having a huge following is by no means a deal breaker, but we do give preference to authors who are ready to take an active role in promoting their new release and participating in things like authors Q&As, book tours, and more.
Now that you know what we're looking for, we hope you'll submit your next novel to Black Spot Books! Our full submission guidelines are always online, and we are currently accepting submissions!
Fair winds and following seas,