Take 5: Five Rivers Publishing Submission Tips

Hello, writers!

Five Rivers Publishing’s submission period is only a few days away! If you haven’t marked your calendars yet, it’s February 1 to the 14 every year. Manuscripts submitted this year will be considered for publication in 2018.

Five Rivers is fully booked (pun intended) for 2017, and our publisher and editor are looking for 12 cream of the crop from this year’s submissions. It’s going to be a stiff competition, and we’re sure you already checked our Submission Guidelines, but to give you a better chance, I asked our publisher, Lorina Stephens, to tell us five important manuscript turn- offs because, you know, you always want your readers turned…um…not off.

We want you to succeed! We really, really do. So here, before you submit, come and Take 5:

  1. Research: Make sure you do your damned research. Nothing aggravates me more than to read about a whole ox roasting over a tavern fire for that day’s patrons, or of people skipping along merrily in the dark of a forest, taking note of the colours of clothing and flowers when you can’t see a damned thing let alone a colour at night. You ever walk in a forest at night? A forest far removed from any human daylighting of the darkness? It’s bloody dark! Equally, if you’re going to write about sailing, make sure you can write convincingly about life aboard ship. Or if your novel is set in the early 18th century or Roaring 20s, make sure you have all the proper clothing on your characters. Don’t assume. Know your material. Intimately.
  2. Please don’t send your manuscript in anything but DOC or DOCX format with ABSOLUTELY NO SPECIAL FORMATTING beyond italics. If you ignore that, this year we’re going to be very, very cranky and return manuscripts unread which don’t adhere to that specification.
  3. Please no eyes rolling across landscapes, or staring at other eyes, or being windows of the soul. Gazes CAN roll across landscapes and stare. But sorry, there are still no windows of the soul.
  4. Nothing’s going to make me say no faster than rehashing a known trope. Don’t try to send me the next 50 Shades (did I just hear retching?), or Hunger Games or any other bestseller. DO send me something about which you’re passionate, know intimately, write convincingly and from the heart. Share with me something you’ve drawn up from your deepest imagination. That will likely captivate my attention. Cloning won’t and is sure to be a death sentence.
  5. So what am I looking for? I’d love to see more by way of magic realism, well-researched historical fiction that doesn’t devolve to the neo-pagan or bodice-ripper, and I would like to see mystery. Canadian themes will be received favourably.

Did that help? We hope it did! We are looking forward to reading your most polished work! If you have any questions or comments, send it our way.


PS: If you’re feeling extra nervous, I found you this jazz piece by Paul Desmond “Take 5”, which became an unlikely hit and the biggest-selling jazz single ever. Give it a listen, Take 5 and be inspired!

Good luck!

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