GUIDELINES FOR AUTHORS
Pelican Publishing Company’s catalog and history may be viewed online at www.pelicanpub.com.
CHILDREN’S PICTURE BOOKS: For brief books for ages 5-8, Pelican Publishing Company requires a query letter describing the project briefly and concisely (see below), a separate list of the author’s publishing credits, a printout of the full manuscript, and a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) sufficient for the return of the manuscript or at least for our reply. If the manuscript’s return is not needed, please so state in the query letter. Photocopies of any accompanying artwork are welcome. Multiple (or “simultaneous”) or e-mailed submissions are not considered.
ALL OTHER BOOKS: Pelican Publishing Company requires a query letter describing the project briefly and concisely (see below), a separate list of the author’s publishing credits, a printout of the outline and one or two chapters, and a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) sufficient for the return of the chapters or at least for our reply. If the chapters’ return is not needed, please so state in the query letter. Multiple (or “simultaneous”) or e-mailed submissions are not considered.
QUERY LETTER AND OTHER SUBMISSION POLICIES: The book’s title must be clearly stated at the top of the query letter. The letter should then discuss the following: the book’s content, its anticipated length (in double-spaced pages or in words), its intended audience, and any promotional ideas and contacts the author may have. If the author has previously been published by another firm, please specify why a change is being sought.
Your SASE must have your address in the top left corner as well. The United States Post Office requires a return address there.
Be advised that we have certain expectations in the length of a proposed manuscript. Our young children’s books (ages 5-8, 32 illustrated pages when published) cannot exceed 1,100 words. Proposed books for middle readers (ages 8 and up) should be at least 25,000 words. Adult books should be more than this. For cookbooks, we require at least 200 proposed recipes.
We will respond as promptly as possible, letting you know whether or not we feel the project is worth pursuing further. If we feel that it is worthy of consideration, we will request more information.
We do not require that writers contacting us have a literary agent representing them.
A phone call to the editor or secretary or an in-person drop off of unrequested material does not automatically imply that a project has been solicited. For this and other obvious reasons, we discourage phone inquiries and in-person drop offs. If an author we have requested additional material from is unclear as to what we’re asking for, a phone call to clarify the matter is acceptable.
Solicited manuscripts are carefully scrutinized by the editor(s). On occasion, they may be examined by our sales and/or promotions departments to gauge their marketability. They are then passed on to the publisher for preliminary and final consideration. The submissions are reported on as soon as possible, but this process may take up to three months (12 weeks). If acceptance is recommended, the author(s) will be asked to sign a contract with Pelican Publishing Company.
If the three-month period for solicited manuscripts passes without the author being informed of a decision, a polite note of reminder from the author is not out of order. Phone calls on the status of manuscripts are very strongly discouraged. Never badger the editor for an instant decision or make demands or threats; this can only hurt the author’s chances of acceptance. Authors who feel unsatisfied with our procedures or the amount of time being taken to reach a decision are free to request the manuscript’s return at any time.
Pelican Publishing requires exclusive submission for all solicited manuscripts during the 12-week period mentioned above. This is for obvious reasons. We can only give full attention to those manuscripts which we are likely to be able to publish if accepted by us.
We also ask that authors who have solicited works under consideration please refrain from sending us other works or proposals during this time unless they are specifically requested to do so. Agreement on our part to look at a particular work does not imply blanket authorization to send unrelated materials and doing so could hurt, rather than help, an author. Materials related to the requested submission, such as favorable newspaper clippings, endorsements by qualified professionals in the field the author is writing about, or other amended data may be sent and added to the material already on file. Use careful judgment in selecting these items and be certain that they enhance the material and its chances of being accepted. Sending in later data that refutes or calls into question points made in the earlier submission may cast doubts on the whole project’s veracity and damage its chances of acceptance. Always be certain to refer to the work’s title, the author name under which it was submitted, and the date the original query was mailed.
Materials will not be returned unless they are accompanied by sufficient postage. Policies regarding SASE’s apply to all submissions from foreign countries, including Canada. Return postage must be in stamps, checks on U.S. banks, or International Money Orders in U.S. money.
We require all submissions, including outlines, resumes, sample chapters, etc., be neatly printed out on 8½ by 11 inch paper and double-spaced with sufficient margins (1 inch on all sides). Query letters are customarily single-spaced. Submissions with numerous misspellings, typographical errors, and handwritten corrections reflect unfavorably on the author and may contribute heavily toward a rejection. Writers are cautioned not to rely on editors to clean up after them or interpret unclear information, regardless of how good they think their material may be. A sloppy submission is often indicative of worse problems—the type editors and publishers prefer not to deal with.
Handwritten submissions and/or queries will not be considered. Electronic submissions (discs) are not accepted. These would only be needed once a contract was signed. Never send discs, videotapes, or audio tapes without inquiring beforehand.
We accept no responsibility for original and only-copies of material. We require that all writers send us copies of their work and retain the originals at home. We will not be responsible for misplaced or lost material.
Authors should avoid undue “hype-ing” of their work. Materials submitted with author projections of it being a “blockbuster” or “the next Gone With the Wind” rarely live up to these pretensions. The publisher and editor(s) are professionals who can make up their own minds on the quality and potential of a proposal without the “self-hype.” Comments and/or reviews from qualified professionals or publications, as stated earlier, can be desirable in many cases. Likewise for rejection letters from other publishing companies that acknowledge a project’s potential value and which base their rejections on other factors unrelated to quality of author workmanship.
We look for clarity and conciseness of expression and presentation in a synopsis/outline and we ask to see those that will most likely yield proposals fitting our list and that we feel we can market successfully. We turn down thousands of adequate proposals every year just because they have no clear “hooks” or well-defined audiences. The author should present a strong case as to why we should take on the book and who would buy it. Saying that “all children would love it” is very vague, but saying “libraries and schools in Tennessee would like this” is more informative.
All work submitted to us must be in good taste, nonlibelous, and consistent with the level of quality we have established for our company. Although many of our titles are specialized, they are all suitable for general readership and are free of gratuitous, off-color words, phrases, or references.
If an author seeking to publish an illustrated work plans to use artwork copyrighted by an author, illustrator, publication, or syndicate, permission must be obtained in writing from that source. Permission in writing must also be obtained by any author seeking to use quotes or other materials from previously copyrighted publications. We will not publish illustrations or portions of another copyrighted work without written authorization to do so.
Authors seeking to have previously published books reprinted must have, in writing from their previous publisher, a signed letter transferring all rights (including copyright) to them. This is required under the 1978 Copyright Law and must be adhered to in all such cases.
Under the revisions contained in the 1978 Copyright Law, a work is automatically copyrighted at the time of creation. If we agree to accept the work for publication, we will apply for the copyright in the author’s name on publication.
TYPES OF BOOK PUBLISHED: Hardcover and trade paperback originals (90%) and reprints (10%) including hardcover, trade paperback, and mass market. We publish an average of 70 titles a year and have about 1500 currently in print.
Specialties are art/architecture books, cooking/cookbooks, motivational, popular history (especially Louisiana/regional), children’s books (illustrated and otherwise), and social commentary.
We seek writers on the cutting edge of ideas who do not write in cliches, or take the old, tired, unimaginative way of foul language and sex scenes to pad a poor writing effort. We strongly urge writers to be aware of ideas gaining currency. We believe ideas have consequences. One of the consequences is that they lead to best-selling books.
Finally, we would ask you to study Pelican’s books and lists. Aside from being posted on www.pelicanpub.com, our latest catalog is available for free on request, and a look through it will help you understand where our interests lie. We have been called “innovative” by The New York Times. We will consider almost any well-written work by an author who understands promotion.
PAYMENT POLICY: Pelican pays its authors a royalty based on sales. The rate depends on the type of material and the format.
All terms are specified in the contract all authors publishing under our imprint(s) are required to sign. No book will be published by Pelican without a contract signed beforehand.
All guidelines listed above are subject to revision at any time by Pelican Publishing Company and its editorial board.