Submission Guidelines

Orca Book Publishers invites you to submit your manuscript during our two annual submission periods in February and August. We look forward to reading your work!

(Illustrators, please see our guidelines for illustrators.)

We are accepting submissions until February 29, 2024.

Visit cansubmit.com/Orca-Book-Publishers to send us your digital submission. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts by email, mail or fax.

Next submission period: August 2024. Watch our social media for announcements.


How to Submit during an Open Call

  • Please familiarize yourself with our publishing program before submitting. Browse our website and our current catalogs, and review the guidelines below. We appreciate you taking the time to show us your best work.

  • Create an account on CanSubmit and start a New Submission with Orca Book Publishers. We do not accept submissions by email, mail or fax.
  • Indicate the genre of your submission. In some cases, we would prefer that you query us with a synopsis or sample chapters rather than a complete manuscript. See specifics for each genre below.
  • Upload your digital manuscript, synopsis or sample chapters (Word or PDF preferred).
  • Provide a cover letter with 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. Don’t forget to include your contact information.
  • Indicate if your submission is a multiple submission. (We don’t mind at all. We understand that your time is valuable, as is ours. We only ask that you let us know if you decide to place your project elsewhere.)
  • Please note:

    • We are a children’s publisher. We do not publish adult works of fiction or non-fiction or poetry.
    • We are dedicated to publishing books that represent a diverse range of experiences, voices and backgrounds, including but not limited to racialized people, those of all genders, people with disabilities, neurodiverse people, those from the LGBTQ2IA community, as well as other historically marginalized populations.
    • We only publish authors who are either Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada.
    • No editorial comment will be provided unless we are considering your submission for publication.
    • Due to high volume, we are unable to respond to each submission individually. If you have not received a reply from us within four (4) months, you should assume that we have decided that your project is not right for us at this time.

    Submission Guidelines by Genre


    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. 
    • Please send complete manuscripts to the attention of Sarah Howden and Vanessa McCumber.
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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. 
    • Please send complete manuscripts to the attention of Sarah Howden and Vanessa McCumber.
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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 themselves.
    • 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 6 to 8.
    • Please send a cover letter and complete manuscript to the attention of Sarah Howden.
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    Middle Grade Fiction

    • Contemporary 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.
    • 35,000 to 50,000 words.
    • Target audience: readers for this genre can range anywhere from 8 to 12 years old. Please be clear about the target age group for your work in your cover letter.
    • A cover letter and the complete manuscript should be sent to the attention of Sarah Howden.
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    Orca Currents

    • High-interest novels aimed at reluctant readers aged 9–12, with a reading level of grades 1.0–4.5.
    • 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, sci-fi/fantasy, etc.).
    • 14,000 to 16,000 words, 12 to 16 chapters.
    • Please send a cover letter, a short (100200 words) synopsis and a chapter-by-chapter outline to the attention of Gabrielle Prendergast. If you are new to hi-lo, please include a sample chapter.
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    Orca Soundings

    • High-interest novels aimed at reluctant teen readers ages 12 and up with a reading level of grade 2.0–4.5, preferably closer to 3.0.
    • Protagonists should be between 14 and 17 years old and be appealing and believable.
    • These stories should reflect the universal struggles that young people face. They need not be limited to "gritty" urban tales. Can include adventure, mystery/suspense, performing arts, romance, sport, and sci-fi/fantasy.
    • 14,000 to 16,000 words, 12 to 16 chapters.
    • Please send a cover letter, a short (100–200 words) synopsis and a chapter-by-chapter outline to the attention of Gabrielle Prendergast. If you are new to hi-lo, please include a sample chapter.
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    Orca Anchor

    • High-interest novels aimed at reluctant teen readers ages 12 and up, with a reading level of below grade 2.0, preferably closer to 1.0.
    • Protagonists should be between 14 and 17 years old and be appealing and believable.
    • These stories should reflect the universal struggles that young people face. They need not be limited to "gritty" urban tales. Can include adventure, mystery/suspense, performing arts, romance, sport, and sci-fi/fantasy.
    • 6,000 to 8,000 words, 8 to 10 chapters.
    • Please send a cover letter, a short (100–200 words) synopsis and a chapter-by-chapter outline to the attention of Gabrielle Prendergast. If you are new to hi-lo, please include a sample chapter.
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    Orca Shivers

    • High-interest contemporary horror novels aimed at readers aged 9–12 with a reading level approximately at age (grade 4-6)
    • Relatable protagonists between 11 and 14 years old in stories with fairly intense, high-stakes horror plots. Moderate violence, mild gore and death are okay.
    • Supernatural (vampires, ghosts etc) or natural horror (crazed animals, serial killers) are both welcome.
    • 10,000-20,000 words, short chapters, each with cliff-hanger endings (shorter stories of 6000+ words will be considered).
    • Please send a cover letter, a short (100–200 words) synopsis, a chapter-by-chapter outline and three sample chapters to the attention of Gabrielle Prendergast. Orca authors please contact Gabrielle with a pitch first.
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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).
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    Orca Footprints

    • Nonfiction books about the complex environmental issues that kids face every day.
    • Each 48-page book aims to inspire kids to take action.
    • Geared to readers 9 to 12 who are asking questions about the state of the natural world.
    • Please submit QUERY ONLY to the attention of Kirstie Hudson.
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    Orca Think

    • Nonfiction books that introduce young readers to the issues making headlines today.
    • Well-researched topics by authors with a connection to the subject matter.
    • Material should be appropriate for middle grade readers, ages 9 to 12.
    • Please submit QUERY ONLY to the attention of Kirstie Hudson.
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    Orca Timeline

    • Nonfiction books that explore how big ideas have shaped humanity in the past, present and into the future.
    • Well-researched topics by authors with a connection to the subject matter.
    • Material should be appropriate for middle grade readers, ages 9 to 12.
    • Please submit QUERY ONLY to the attention of Kirstie Hudson.
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    Orca Wild

    • Nonfiction books that challenge us to think about our relationships, both good and bad, with vulnerable species and habitats.
    • Well-researched topics by authors with a connection to the subject matter.
    • Material should be appropriate for middle grade readers, ages 9 to 12.
    • Please submit QUERY ONLY to the attention of Kirstie Hudson.
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    Other Nonfiction

    • We are looking for unique projects that will have broad appeal to young North American readers. These could be nonfiction picture books for elementary readers (ages 4 to 8) or books for middle grade readers (ages 9 to 12) outside the scope of the series above. Material should be age appropriate.
    • Please submit QUERY ONLY to the attention of Kirstie Hudson.
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