Publishers of Fine Mystery & Suspense

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Do I need an agent to submit to Shadow Line Press?

No. We welcome agented submissions, but we don’t require them. The only exception to this is during the rare periods when Shadow Line Press is temporarily closed to submissions. During these times we remain open only to authors who have received requests to submit manuscripts, current Shadow Line Press authors, and agented authors.

My manuscript has a tragic ending but it's still falls into the mystery/thriller/suspense category . May I send it to Shadow Line Press?

Absolutely. We maintain a special fondness for books that depict a gritty, realistic outlook on life, and unfortunately, in the real world, events don't always end happily. While most readers prefer a book with a happy ending, we also understand that mystery/thriller/suspense readers are realists. That's the key to what we are looking for: realism.

My manuscript is unfinished/ unpolished. May I send it anyway?

Shadow Line Press does not consider unfinished manuscripts. It takes up our editors’ time, and we don’t like spending time on something when we have no guarantee it will ever be finished. Also, if we read your first few chapters and want to see more, it’s frustrating to be told we have to wait while you write it!

You can send an unpolished manuscript, but unless you’re that rare writer who makes no typos or mistakes, you’ll improve your chances by not doing so! The more polished and professional-looking your manuscript is, the more favorable our first impression.

I'm not sure if Shadow Line Press will like my book. May I send just a query to begin with?

If your book falls into one of the genres we publish (see What We Publish) then there’s really no point sending a query rather than a standard 30-page SUBMISSION package.. Our acquisition editors need to get a feel for your writing style before making a decision to see the rest of the manuscript. Of course, if you have a specific concern about your manuscript — for instance, a plot element that you feel might make it unacceptable to Shadow Line Press—please do feel free to drop us a line at for clarification.

What plot elements are unacceptable to Shadow Line Press?

Anything depraved or illegal presented in a positive light or as titillation: pedophilia, rape, incest, necrophilia, bestiality, racial intolerance. If you chose to include any sexually explicit material, all characters must be at least eighteen years of age.

My manuscript was previously published. Will Shadow Line Press consider it for republication?

No. Shadow Line Press does consider re-releases, but only from authors who are currently contracted with Shadow Line Press — and then only on a case-by-case basis. Send us something new, and if we accept that, then you can talk to your editor about submitting your previously published manuscript.

May I send a manuscript that I've also submitted to other publishers?

Yes! Please just let us know your manuscript is being considered elsewhere. Also please let us know if you decide to withdraw it from consideration at Shadow Line Press.

May I send several submissions to Shadow Line Press at the same time?

No. One at a time, please, preferably your best work.

My manuscript is less than 40,000 words or more than 100,000. May I still send it for consideration?

No. Shadow Line Press doesn’t consider any material below 40,000 words or above 100,000. So if your manuscript falls outside those limits, we’re sorry—we can’t consider it.

Formatting and Submission Requirements

What is a blurb?

A blurb is what you find on the back cover of a print book, or on the author's page on the Shadow Line Press website. It’s a short, one- or two-paragraph description of the story, giving the genre and just enough information to “hook” the reader (or in this case, the editor) into wanting to read more. It’s not an excerpt, and it’s not a full plot summary or a synopsis.

What is a synopsis?

A synopsis is a summary of your book. It introduces the main characters, details the important plot points, and gives the conclusion. It is not an excerpt, it is not a selection of excerpts from the book itself, and it is not a blurb. It should not end with a “hook” or a cliff-hanger. Shadow Line Press's acquisition team read synopses to get an overall idea of the story: to see whether the plot makes sense and whether it ends satisfactorily. A synopsis should be at least two pages in order to do justice to the book but can (and should) be longer if the length of your book demands it.

I don't have a synopsis. May I send an excerpt instead?

No. Shadow Line Press's editors don’t open up a synopsis to find out if they like your writing style, or to see if you can hook them into reading more. They look to the synopsis for information: on characters, plot arcs and conclusion. An excerpt doesn’t help with that!

Shadow Line Press asks for three sample chapters. May I send chapters one, six and eleven?

No. We want the first three chapters. Non-consecutive chapters are too confusing. But if you’re particularly proud of chapters six and eleven, by all means do send us the whole manuscript.

I can't work out how to put my manuscript in rich text format or Microsoft Word format. Is it okay if I paste it straight into an email?

No, please don’t! Reading even three chapters in an email is wearing for our editors, and no one wants to read a whole novel that way. Also, different email programs format differently, and your manuscript may not reach us looking the way you want it to.

In addition, if your manuscript is accepted by Shadow Line Press, it will have to go through a full editing process, which requires being put into a Microsoft Word document and emailed between the author, editor and other staff members. If you can’t operate MS Word, you’re not going to be able to manage the editing process.

Hearing Back from Shadow Line Press

How long will I have to wait for a response?

Once a submission has been received, although a number of authors get a reply within a few days, responses can take up to 90 days.


I previously submitted my manuscript to Shadow Line Press and it was rejected. May I resubmit it?

Sorry, no. Our acquiring editors do make editorial suggestions and request revisions on manuscripts that are not quite working for them. (If you receive a response requesting you to revise and resubmit, then that’s a big compliment — it means an editor likes your work enough to want to contract it, if you can fix certain things he or she believes need work.)

Also, if an editor thinks a manuscript has merit, but it’s not personally to his or her taste, she will often pass it on to another editor for a second consideration.

If your manuscript is rejected, it doesn’t mean it has no merit — this is a very subjective industry — but it does mean that, after careful consideration, one or more members of our acquisition team feel that Shadow Line Press is not the right publisher for it. And although the editor might want to see other manuscripts of yours, he or she doesn’t want to see that one again.

You rejected my book, but didn't give me any feedback. May I email and ask the editor for advice?

Shadow Line Press used to give feedback on most of the manuscripts we rejected. Unfortunately, this led to our staff receiving a number of disagreeable emails from disgruntled authors. It’s depressing to spend time on a rejection email only to get an angry response, so we switched to a form letter and no longer require our editors to provide feedback. On occasion, an editor will give personal feedback, but this is entirely at his or her discretion — it’s time consuming (and unpaid!) — so if you don’t receive any feedback with your rejection email please don’t email and ask.


Will I have to pay to publish my book or for it to go to print?

Absolutely not. Shadow Line Press is not a vanity or subsidy publisher. We pay royalties and we require no money from authors at any stage of the publishing process. For specifics visit our CONTRACT page.

If I contract the first book of a series with Shadow Line Press, do I have to give you first refusal on subsequent books in the series?

No. Shadow Line Press contracts one book at a time. We hope you’ll love working with us enough to send us all your other books, but we want you to be free to make that decision for yourself.

Publication and Print

How soon after acceptance will my book release?

This depends on a number of factors: your editor’s schedule being a main one. Books generally are released within nine months of being contracted. Releases also depend on other factors such as the publishing schedule for other books in the same genre, and of course other books by the same author. We don’t like to crowd our release schedule with too much of the same thing.

Cover Art and Illustrations

May I provide my own cover art?

Yes, although Shadow Line Press reserves the right of final approval of any author-provided cover art and/or images. Keep in mind that Shadow Line Press employs a full staff of cover artists, who work hard to create a coherent, identifiable look for our book covers, so generally, we prefer to use our own staff. Also, keep in mind that if we do allow you to use your own art, the responsibility for acquiring artists' permission, and for arranging payment for the artists' work, lies wholly with the author and not with Shadow Line Press.


Does Shadow Line Press offer an advance?

Not at this time.

How are royalties paid?

Royalties are paid biannually. The rates and terms are covered in full detail on our CONTRACT page.