Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Spencer Hill Press -- Open Submissions Wish List

As you know, Patricia and I are both senior editors at Spencer Hill Press. This Saturday we open to unagented submissions--which means that all your well-polished novels have a chance to be read and find a home with SHP.

Spencer Hill Press is an independent publishing house specializing in sci-fi, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance for young adult readers. Our books have that "I couldn't put it down!" quality. If your book is young adult and features anything that's abnormal --a dystopian world, special abilities, ghosts, goblins, space-- we will consider it .

While we are considering all manuscripts, this is a short list of projects some of our editors would *love* to see. So, if you've got something you feel fits what we're looking for, you can direct your project to a specific editor, either in the query or the subject. 

  • A book withunique magic - complex from Game of Thrones to fun and unique like Once Upon a Time.
  • Something withambiguous characters who walk the line between good & evil.
  • Story with abadass villainess; complex like Morgan/Morgana in Starz’ Camelot or BBC’s Merlin
  • A love storywhere the couple is already together
  • A Hook-likecharacter from Once Upon a Time. (Notnecessarily a pirate, but guyliner and magic and ambiguity.)
  • A fairytalewith a twist (like a steampunk fairytale or a unique take on something we already know)
  • A well-built Sci-Fi world (like Across the Universe)
  • A novel where the main love interest is the villain
  • Something with ninjas! 
  • A story with ahot Cajun boy
  • A book told from a male point of view (single point of viewfor the entire novel)
  • Where the main characteror the perspective used is something out of the usual (i.e. consider The BookThief and how Death tells the story
  • Multicultural that's more than just a token race/issue book—would die for a complex heroine with Cherokee background, in particular.
  • Story focused on a strong friendship (rather than romance)
  • A story with multiple boy characters and one girl...not a love triangle, just something fun and adventurous with a wide cast of characters


  • An Upstairs/Downstairs style story (A YA or NA style Downton Abbey)
  • Stories with magical elementsset in the 1870s-1970s with vivid time period details and settings.
  • An I Dream of Jennie typestory (magic + fun/comedy)
  • Fairy tale retellings,especially incorporating multiple stories/lands like Once Upon a Time and The 10th Kingdom
  • Super hero(ine) stories--think X-Men: First Class meets The Avengers with great characters on both sides of thefight
  • Gender-swapped well-knownstories/legends or stories told from the POV of unlikely sidecharacters/antagonists.
  • NA/YA magical realism
  • MSs with LGBTQ teens as the protagonists.  Any genre of NA/YA is fine, but thestories would preferably be post-coming out stories.
  • Stories that take place in a new setting -- take me to China or India or Greece, somethingunique
  • Sweepinghistoricals with a killer speculative twist or set in a new region of history (no Tudors/Regencies,please!)
  • Second-worldfantasy that grapples with complex morality instead of straightforward battle betweengood and evil
  • An exciting newtake on hauntings
  • YAs withcriminal/mafia/hacker elements—this can work in almost any genre (think White Cat, Boardwalk Empire, Lies of LockeLamora, Sneakers, Kill Bill)
  • Fantasy that'sinspired by non-Western settings
  • Something with an asexual protagonist (like Every Day by David Levithan)

  • Midgradecontemporary fantasy: particularly faery tale, folk tale, or faery related
  • Any age level:superhero stories! Like, comics in novel form
  • Midgradehorror, like Goosebumps, Are You Afraid of the Dark, or dark, creepy fantasywith monsters
  • Anythingthat's bordering on (or definitely set in) the horror realms, really, any agecategory
  • Stories withimportant equine characters (yes, this is weirdly specific, but good horses,unicorns, kelpie, pegasi, etc. will always have my attention. ESPECIALLYunicorns. 


Any book, regardless of sub-genre, needs to be un-put-downable. If I find myself reading straight through, fully engaged in the story, I know other people will do the same.

I love urban fantasies and paranormal romances that make their fantastic elements part of the real world in a way that leaves the reader wondering if they could, in fact, really happen.

A strong, humorous narrative voice will get me every time.

Any magical, paranormal, or sci-fi elements need to be logically consistent--they don't have to be true to canon (e.g., Stiefvater's Shiver has a very unique take on werewolves), but they do need to work the same way throughout the story or series.

We're excited to start seeing your manuscripts. We open to submissions on December 1, and you can check our website for more and up-to-date information! 

Let us know if you any questions--but please do not query us or pitch in the comments!! 


  1. Fun list! Will a similar list of wants be forthcoming for Spencer Hill Contemporary?

  2. Spencer Hill Contemporary is not currently open for submissions, but if we need to open it would be around February and there would definitely be a list like this. Nothing has been officially decided yet. :)

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  4. Replies
    1. You query one at a time and mention that you have others. You can list a one-two sentence pitch about what it is, and then the editor could request that if interested. OR you can wait until we read one and then re-sub after we respond.

  5. So excited about this! I'm glad SHP is opening to submissions.

  6. Replies
    1. We are planning to be open for one month, but if we feel the spots are taken up then we will close but there will be notice

  7. Exciting. I've got Ninjas who are walking the fine line between good/evil. Yet, it's not done. Close but alas, not done. Must write faster. Will definitely keep Spencer Hill firmly on my radar. Thanks!