Orca Book Publishers

Submission Guidelines

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

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

  • We are a children’s publisher. We do not publish adult works of fiction or non-fiction or poetry.
  • We only publish Canadian authors.
  • We do not accept submissions by mail or fax. Please only send us your digital submission by email. 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 we are considering your submission for publication.
  • 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. Don’t forget to include your contact information.
  • Include a general marketing plan (we are curious to know your thoughts on promotion and the target market for your book).
  • For nonfiction queries, please include a detailed table of contents.
  • Double space all materials.
  • 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.)
  • 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.

Please send your submission (by email) as follows:

  • In the Subject line include genre, name of project, and your name. E.g. Query: Middle Grade novel [TITLE] by [Your Name]
  • Your cover letter can be in the body of the email, but if it is sent as a separate attachment, please provide a short description of your submission in the email itself.
  • Attach the manuscript in a single, separate document. Word or PDF preferred. Do not send links to shared online documents. For security reasons, these will not be opened.
  • Additional digital images may be sent in either jpg or pdf format for onscreen review.
  • Email your submission to submissions@orcabook.com.

Good luck!

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

See also Guidelines for Illustrators

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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 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 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 Kirstie Hudson.
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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.).
  • 14,000 to 16,000 words, 12 to 16 chapters.
  • A cover letter, a short (100–200 words) synopsis and a chapter-by-chapter outline should be sent to the attention of Tanya Trafford.
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Orca Sports

While we are no longer publishing new titles for the Orca Sports collection, we are happy to consider submissions with a sport theme for Currents and Soundings. Please see the guidelines for those respective collections.

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Orca Limelights

While we are no longer publishing new titles for the Orca Limelights collection, we are happy to consider submissions about performing arts for Currents and Soundings. Please see the guidelines for those respective collections.

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Orca Soundings

  • High-interest novels aimed at reluctant readers aged 12 and up
  • Protagonists are between 14 and 17 years old and should 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 adventures, mystery/suspense, performing arts, romance, sport, and fantasy.
  • 14,000 to 16,000 words, 12 to 16 chapters
  • A cover letter, a short (100–200 words) synopsis and a chapter-by-chapter outline should be sent to the attention of Tanya Trafford.

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 Kirstie Hudson.
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