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Guidelines for Authors & Illustrators

Orca Book Publishers receives many submissions over the course of the year and aims to consider each one carefully so we appreciate your patience with this process.

It is important that you familiarize yourself with our publishing program before you send us a submission. Please browse our website, download a copy of our current catalogue and review the guidelines below.

 

If you decide to submit a book proposal, please note:

  • We only publish Canadian authors.
  • Please include your contact information, email and mailing address.
  • we accept submissions in hard copy by mail, or digitally by e-mail. We do not accept submissions by fax. No phone calls, please.
  • We would prefer that you query us with a cover letter, a synopsis, and/or several sample chapters rather than the entire manuscript (see specifics for each genre below).
  • No editorial comment will be provided unless the submission has the potential for publication with Orca.
  • In your cover letter, please include a brief summary of your book and how you feel it will fit with our publishing program.
  • Include a short biography of yourself and any publication history, if applicable.
  • Include a marketing plan (including thoughts on how your book could be promoted and who you think will buy your book).
  • For non-fiction, please include a table of contents.
  • Indicate if your submission is a multiple submission.
  • Please note: due to high volume, the review process can take up to six (6) months from the time we receive your submission. We appreciate your patience.

If you are submitting by e-mail:

  • Attach the manuscript in a single, separate document.
  • Double space all materials.
  • Please do not send digital images by e-mail. Images that accompany your manuscript can be sent by mail on DVD for onscreen review.
  • E-mail your submission to submissions@orcabook.com.

If you are submitting by regular post:

  • Double-space all materials.
  • Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with sufficient postage for the return of your manuscript, or indicate if you would prefer us to recycle it should we decide not to pursue publication.
  • Do not send us original art or photographs. Digital images may be submitted on CD or DVD for onscreen review.
  • Address your submission to the attention of the appropriate editor (listed below).
  • Mail a hard copy of your manuscript to:

  • Orca Book Publishers
    1016 Balmoral Road
    Victoria, BC
    V8T 1A8

 

Orca Book Publishers is presently seeking manuscripts in the following genres:

See also Guidelines for Illustrators (below)

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Board Books

  • Manuscripts should have minimal text and be aimed at ages 0–24 months.
  • No art should be included with board book submissions unless you are a professional illustrator. Original art should never be included.
  • Please send submissions to the attention of Liz Kemp.
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Picture Books

  • Good stories, well told. Any lesson or moral should be secondary to credible characters, an engaging plot and strong writing. The point of view should invite the child reader into the story.
  • Even if you have written a series, please send only one submission. We rarely publish sequels to our picture books, and then only if the first book has been very successful.
  • Picture book manuscripts should typically be 1,500 words or less.
  • No art should be included with picture book submissions unless you are a professional illustrator. Original art should never be included.
  • Complete manuscripts (no queries, please) should be sent to the attention of Liz Kemp.
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Orca Echoes

  • Contemporary stories or fantasy with a universal theme, a compelling, unified plot and a strong, sympathetic child protagonist who grows through the course of the story and solves the central problem him/herself
  • Currently seeking stories where humour, imagination and play are at the forefront
  • Any lesson or moral should be well-disguised, and secondary to an engaging plot, strong characters, and child-appeal
  • 6,000 to 8,000 words (max.)
  • Aimed at ages seven to nine
  • Submissions should be sent in their entirety to the attention of Liz Kemp.
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Middle Reader fiction

  • Contemporary or fantasy stories with a universal theme, a compelling, unified plot and a strong, sympathetic child protagonist who grows through the course of the story and solves the central problem themselves
  • Well-researched stories dealing with or taking their inspiration from historical subjects, but not thinly disguised history lessons
  • 35,000 to 50,000 words
  • Target audience: readers for this genre can range anywhere from 8 to 13 years old. Please be clear about the target age group for your work in your cover letter.
  • A cover letter and the first three (3) chapters should be sent to the attention of Tanya Trafford.
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Orca Footprints

  • Straightforward books about the complex environmental issues that kids face every day. Each 48-page book aims to inspire kids to take action in any way they can.
  • Well-researched, simply-expressed information and powerful images to readers ages 9 and up who are asking questions about the state of the natural world.
  • 2,000 words (or less); approximately 60 photographs (with captions)
  • Please submit QUERY ONLY to Sarah Harvey.
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Orca Currents

  • High-interest novels aimed at reluctant readers aged 10-14
  • Protagonists are between 12 and 14 years old and should be appealing and believable.
  • These stories should have middle-school-appropriate story lines (family issues, humor, sports, adventure, mystery/suspense, fantasy, etc.).
  • Strong plots, credible characters/situations and fine writing remain essential to this series. Please avoid awkward moralizing.
  • The novels feature simple language and short, high-interest chapters.
  • 14,000 to 16,000 words, 12 to 16 short chapters.
  • A cover letter, synopsis and a chapter-by-chapter outline should be sent to the attention of Tanya Trafford.
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Orca Sports

  • High-interest sports adventures for ages 10+
  • Protagonists are between 14 and 17 years old, but content should appeal to juvenile as well as teen readers.
  • Strong plots, credible characters/situations and fine writing remain essential to this series. Please avoid awkward moralizing.
  • 23,000 to 25,000 words
  • A cover letter, synopsis and chapter-by-chapter outline should be sent to the attention of Tanya Trafford.
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Orca Limelights

  • High-interest novels about performing arts for ages 11 to 14.
  • Protagonist are between 14 and 17.
  • Subjects can include dance, music (of many kinds), acting, directing, singing, magic and circus acts (to name a few).
  • The focus is on performance action and lots of drama (not issue-oriented stories).
  • 20,000 to 25,000 words
  • A cover letter, synopsis and a chapter-by-chapter outline should be sent to the attention of Tanya Trafford.
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Orca Soundings

  • High-interest teen novels aimed at reluctant readers
  • These stories should reflect the universal struggles that young people face. They need not be limited to "gritty" urban tales. Can include adventures, mystery/suspense, fantasy, etc. There is a definite need for humorous stories that will appeal to teens of both sexes.
  • Try to avoid "disease-of-the-week" potboilers or awkward moralizing.
  • The novels feature simple language and short, high-interest chapters. Protagonists are between 14 and 17 years old and should be appealing and believable.
  • 14,000 to 16,000 words, 12 to 16 short chapters
  • A chapter-by-chapter outline and one (1) sample chapter should be sent to the attention of Andrew Wooldridge, Publisher.
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Teen or Young Adult Fiction

  • Issue-oriented contemporary stories exploring a universal theme, with a compelling, unified plot and strong, sympathetic protagonist(s)
  • Well-researched stories dealing with or taking their inspiration from historical subjects, but not thinly disguised history lessons
  • 40,000 to 60,000 words
  • Submissions should include a cover letter, synopsis and the first 3 or 4 chapters only.
  • Send submissions or query letters to the attention of Sarah Harvey.
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Graphic Novels

  • We are looking for stories for all ages that can be told in graphic novel format. We are not looking for manga and anime.
  • Submissions should include a cover letter, synopsis and full text of the story. The more complete the submission, the better. If you are working with an illustrator, please include samples of their work and any finished art (copies only).
  • Send submissions to submissions@orcabook.com.
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Nonfiction

  • Orca publishes a very limited selection of nonfiction titles. We are looking for unique, stand-alone projects that will have broad appeal to young North American readers.
  • Material should be appropriate for juvenile and young adult readers.
  • Query first, please. DO NOT send outlines, sample chapters, complete manuscripts or illustrations.
  • Queries should be sent to the attention of Sarah Harvey.
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Rapid Reads

  • Plots should involve contemporary, straightforward stories using a linear narrative format (little or no use of flashbacks) and the action should take place over a relatively short time frame.
  • 12,000—20,000 words
  • Written in simple language with limited use of complex sentences and multiple clauses.
  • A small cast of characters is most effective.
  • Your initial submission should include a brief synopsis, a sample chapter, a detailed chapter outline and an author biography.
  • Send submissions to the attention of Ruth Linka, Associate Publisher.
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Guidelines for Illustrators

Orca Book Publishers accepts submissions from Canadian artists and illustrators who wish to work with some of Canada's best authors for young people. We require artists to illustrate full-color picture books and full-color covers for our fiction titles, including first chapter books, juvenile fiction and books for young adults. We also require illustrators for black-and-white interior images for the Orca Echoes series. These are sketches, typically rendered in pencil, and are used to interpret the story.

Our publishing program varies in its scope from books with realistic situations and milieus, historic and contemporary, to humorous stories that tickle the funny bone.

When we review a portfolio we look for art that is either realistic, or abstracted and stylized to any degree, but executed in a professional manner, consistent with the high standards of children's publishing in Canada. We look for accomplished drawing and execution in the chosen medium. The ability to create a believable individual character is essential, as is the ability to understand, interpret and illustrate a literary text. Character development, consistency and accurate, thorough research are important. We always need to see images of children interacting and showing emotions. Conventional cartoon or animation styles are not needed.

Send samples of your work in a self-contained, labeled folder in the following formats:

  • 4 to 8 copies, digital proofs, tear sheets, press sheets (Please be sure to include your name and contact information on each sheet.)
  • 1 copy of any published book or set of folded and gathered sheets
  • Any number of images on a CD in jpeg, tif or pdf format

Do not send:

  • Original art
  • Any material that you need returned

Mail to:

Art Department
Orca Book Publishers
1016 Balmoral Road
Victoria, BC, V8T 1A8

Web portfolios may be sent to submissions@orcabook.com to the attention of the Art Department.

Thank you for considering Orca Book Publishers. And good luck in your search for the right publisher for your work. 

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