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Submission Guidelines - PENUMBRA PUBLISHING ... "Out of the Shadows and Into the Light"

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Submission Guidelines and Related Information


Penumbra Publishing is looking for great books in various genres for royalty-paying publishing. We are still in the process of building our initial catalog of books and will consider books that have not been previously published.

Later, as our catalog of available books continues to grow, we will consider out-of-print and previously published books for which the author retains rights to republish. We will also offer listing service for books published by independent authors or publishers. If you are an author with a book currently published with another publishing company, please consult your publisher regarding permission to allow us to list your book on our web site with purchase information pointing back to the publisher's purchasing portal.

Please click on the links below or scroll down for more information. Guidelines for submissions are listed below.

  1. PUBLICATION – for AUTHORS Seeking Publication
  2. AUTHOR / PUBLISHER LISTINGS – for Independently Published Book Listings or Links on Our Web Site



Authors - please review the following information before submitting your manuscript for publishing consideration. If more information or clarification is needed, please feel free to contact us at

Click on links below or scroll down to review section information.

  1. Copyrights and Complete Work
  2. Multiple or Simultaneous Submissions
  3. Open for Submissions and Response Time
  4. What We Do and Do Not Publish
  5. Print Format and Page Length
  6. Genres
  7. How We Decide What to Publish
  8. Marketing and Promotion
  9. Submission Guidelines for Publication
  10. Professionalism


A.  COPYRIGHTS AND COMPLETE WORK: All submitted manuscripts must be complete at the time of inquiry. We do not consider unfinished writing projects based on proposals or partial submission packages.

We will consider publishing new, previously unpublished books for which the author holds all copyrights. At the time of submission the author must provide proof of permission to use any copyrighted material from other sources that may be contained in the manuscript, or else delete the copyrighted material prior to submission. (Other copyrighted material could include song lyrics, movie dialog replicated in print, etc. Short quotes or references considered 'fair use' would be excluded from this requirement, but it is the author's responsibility to determine fair use prior to submission.)

At a later time we will announce when we will again consider publishing previously published books that are out-of-print and for which the author holds rights. Authors who wish to republish previously published electronic or print books must provide proof that no exclusive publishing contract is still in force and that no copyrights are being held in reserve. Copyrighted material from other sources other than 'fair use' should be excised from the submission unless proof of permission is provided at the time of submission. Again, previously published works are not currently being considered for our present catalog, but may be reconsidered soon.


B.   MULTIPLE / SIMULTANEOUS SUBMISSION POLICY: We will consider simultaneous submissions but require that any manuscripts also being offered to other publishers be identified as such in the submission cover letter. We require notification as soon as possible in the event another offer is accepted on a manuscript currently under our consideration, so that we can concentrate our efforts on authors who wish to publish with us.

We cannot consider multiple manuscript submissions (two or more manuscripts from the same author submitted to us at the same time or in quick succession before we’ve had time to complete review of the first submission). Our production schedule limits the number of manuscripts we can review and process for publication. If you’ve submitted a manuscript, please wait for us to respond regarding the manuscript. Once you’ve received our determination regarding your manuscript, you are welcome to send another for consideration, or resubmit a revised manuscript on which we requested revisions prior to reconsideration.


C.  OPEN FOR SUBMISSIONS AND RESPONSE TIME: Unless circumstances dictate otherwise, we are always open for submissions and do our best to respond within a reasonable amount of time. We will try to acknowledge receipt of your submission within three business days. However, we will require more time to provide a publishing decision, depending on our current workflow schedule. If we feel your manuscript partial is ready for publishing and meets our requirements, we will request submission of the entire manuscript. If you have not heard from us within three weeks after we acknowledge receipt of your partial, please follow up via email.


D. WHAT WE DO (AND DO NOT) PUBLISH: We publish fiction only at this time and prefer to deal only with novel-length works (above 35,000 word-count). For authors interested in submitting material to us for publishing, please note the following:

We expect the majority of books we publish to be romance, but will consider other genres and mainstream novels, reserving the right to categorize the work according to our marketing assessment.

We are not opposed to erotica or alternate-lifestyle and cross-gender stories. However, other venues may be better suited to represent these types of stories because at this time we are not positioned to properly promote these genres. Neither do we anticipate following the path of many online romance publishers that focus strictly on erotica and/or alternative lifestyle storylines, as we see no reason to compete in a market that already appears saturated. If you have an erotic or alternative-lifestyle story that has already been rejected by the usual list of publishers specializing in that type of novel, we will consider your submission on that basis and on its own quality merits. Our primary goal is to give unpublished or overlooked fiction a reasonable chance at publication.


E.   PRINT FORMAT AND PAGE LENGTH: Books we publish will be offered in print and electronic format, but must be at least 35,000 words, as we do not publish standalone short stories or separate serial installments of a novel. Novellas (short novels) should be at least 35,000 words and be complete with fully developed storylines that reach a logical conclusion at the end of the book.

At the present time we do not offer books in print that exceeds 200,000 electronic word count or exceeds 400 physical pages. It is at our discretion when and if such books will be offered in print under our contract terms.


F.   GENRES: For marketing purposes, genre stories should meet typical reader expectations for that genre, subgenre, or cross-genre. Some genres have strict storyline formats that should be followed. Genre ‘rules’ can be bent or broken for the sake of a good story, but the resulting story may no longer fit the prescribed boundaries of the genre and therefore could be more difficult to market. While some genres are more popular than others, and some seem to be falling out of favor, we do not want to shut the door on any story that is well-written and interesting to read.

Books categorized in a certain genre should fit the basic tenets ascribed to that genre. For instance, if your romance story does not end with two romantically involved main characters (a man and a woman) getting together ‘happily ever after’ or with the expectation of staying together in a committed relationship, then we will not list it as a romance when other categories such as women’s fiction or alternative lifestyle relationship stories may appear to be a better fit. Similarly, murder mysteries, cozies, action thrillers, suspense, and so forth, have their own story requirements that readers expect to be fulfilled. If a story is cross-genre with other strong elements in it, we may choose to list the story in multiple categories.


G.  HOW WE DECIDE WHAT TO PUBLISH: As always, our goal is to provide publishing opportunities for emerging authors and those not adequately served by other publishers. However, our first priority is to offer quality books to our readers, and we therefore read every submission to ensure each book we publish meets minimum writing standards.

When possible, for books not accepted, we will give a specific summary of suggestions to amend submissions to meet basic writing quality standards. Any suggestions for change do not constitute an offer to publish, and any changes made by the author do not automatically guarantee acceptance for publication. Suggestions, when given, are merely our opinions regarding how the manuscript might be altered to fit what we consider to be basic quality standards. The effectiveness of implemented changes must be judged as part of the overall assessment process in deciding if a manuscript meets minimum standards for publication.

A special note about tense, person, dialog, and point-of-view: We have no preference regarding what verb tense is used in writing a novel - 'he is' or 'he was' or 'he will' - as long as the usage is consistent and appears to be a good choice for the voice and theme of the story. The same holds true for 'person' (first-person, second-person, third-person, as in 'I did,' 'you did,' or 'he did'). Treatment needs to be consistent and appropriate for the story.

In particular we pay attention to the use of dialog tags - their mechanical structure, frequency, and whether or not conversations can be followed easily between two or more characters. Overusing tags is problematic, but so is not using enough tags to make it clear which character is speaking. As a general rule, it is not a good idea to feed backstory or other plot/character information to the reader with large sections of uninterrupted speech by one character (monologue). Also, dialog should 'sound' natural but not be so mutilated in an attempt to mimic accents or colloquial speech patterns that the result is difficult or near-impossible to read.

We are especially sensitive to treatment of point-of-view (the character through which the reader is 'seeing' the story). POV should be consistent and chosen well for the voice and theme of the story. POV can be omniscient (told from a 'god-like' all-knowing narrator point of view), or limited multiple (told from several different characters' points of view), or single deep POV (inside the head and thoughts of only one character), or any combination or mutation thereof, as long as POV choices are logical to the story and do not confuse the reader. The writer should never momentarily switch to another character's POV within a scene - this practice is commonly referred to as 'head-hopping.' Some prominent writers make indiscriminate use of this technique, but we do not condone it for the simple fact that it disturbs the reading flow and pulls the reader out of the story because the reader has to stop and figure out who the POV character is at any given point in the story. In our editorial opinion, that practice destroys the illusion of believability and ruins the reading experience. Therefore if we see indiscriminate mixing of POVs with no logical or stylistic justification, we will advise the writer to seek the help of a good critique partner or group before resubmitting.

For writers whose books show promise but require writing help to correct fundamental problems beyond the scope of normal editing, we have set up a Yahoo group offering free critique clinics and pre-editing. We reserve membership to writers serious about publishing with us. Again, this service is free of charge but is subject to availability of participating members. Those interested should email us for a subscription link or invitation to join.

H. A SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT PROMOTION AND MARKETING: While we are committed to publicizing the books in our catalog through face to face meetings with booksellers, by word of mouth, and through paid advertising, we are a small independent publisher and do not have the resources to set aside publicity funds for individual books or authors. All authors whose work we publish are expected to engage in their own marketing efforts. We may recommend promotional or marketing venues and coordinate promotional activities, but the choice of individual marketing efforts and attendant costs are at the author's discretion and expense. We encourage our authors as a group to participate in joint marketing efforts and will from time to time set up special promotion themes or venues for this purpose. Authors should realize that sales of their books are directly dependent on the effectiveness of promotion, and we cannot promise or project sales volumes. We want all authors to fully understand that the financial risk of publishing is borne by our publishing company and that sales promotion is a joint partnership effort - all authors must pull their weight and not expect one or two people to finance and participate in the bulk of promotion for the benefit of everyone else who chooses not to participate.


I.  SUBMISSION / QUERY GUIDELINES FOR AUTHORS REQUESTING PUBLISHING SERVICES: The submission process for publication consists of three major steps...

  1. QUERY

Please follow instructions for emails to avoid having your email deleted unread.

Please send queries only for COMPLETED manuscripts, as we will not consider manuscripts for publication until they are finished. All questions, queries, and submissions should be sent to the following email address:


  1. STEP ONE - THE QUERY PACKET. The query packet consists of two parts, the EMAIL and the ATTACHMENT.Your EMAIL will be your initial letter of introduction and should give the following information:

ATTACHED to your query packet email should be one file in a format equivalent to Microsoft Word DOC or RTF or Open Office, readable on PC computers. (Many word processing programs including those for MAC computers are capable of producing Word or RTF equivalent files by changing the file format during the save function.) That attachment should contain the following components:


  1. STEP TWO - THE SUBMISSION PACKET. The submission packet should only be sent if requested and will consist of the EMAIL and one file ATTACHMENT to be sent after we have reviewed your initial query packet and have requested your ENTIRE MANUSCRIPT for review. Please DO NOT SEND YOUR ENTIRE MANUSCRIPT UNTIL WE INSTRUCT YOU TO DO SO.

The SUBMISSION PACKET EMAIL subject and body should contain the same information as the query email, with the subject formatted similarly:

The SUBMISSION ATTACHMENT should consist of the same information as the query attachment, but instead of the first three chapters, the entire manuscript should be included.


  1. STEP THREE - THE CONTRACT. This third step occurs only after your manuscript has been reviewed and accepted for publishing. You will receive an acceptance email with a draft contract attached as a PDF. If you wish to make changes, please note changes in your response email. Once a final contract is agreed upon, you must print it out, sign and date it, and mail it to our physical address listed on the contract.

Additionally, for royalty payments to be delivered, you will need to provide a PayPal account email address, as that is the only form of royalty payment we currently have in place. The contract stage entails additional steps, but these will be discussed individually once the submission process reaches that stage.


J.  PROFESSIONALISM: We understand that novice authors may have many doubts, fears, and questions, and might not understand what steps are involved in getting their manuscripts into print. We hope this information is of help, and are glad to answer any other questions not covered here.

We stress above all else that we are a cooperative community, and recommend patience because everything always takes more time to accomplish than is originally estimated. We expect all authors to be emotionally mature enough to enter our community with the best of intentions. Every author should be able to accept constructive criticism graciously and behave in a respectful and productive manner, as we demand no less from ourselves.

As a cooperative community, we also encourage free discussion and the sharing of ideas regarding marketing and other aspects of the publishing business. We have an author/affiliate Yahoo group set up specifically for discussion and notification of new releases and promotional programs. We strongly suggest all our authors and affiliates join this group to stay informed regarding our community and its opportunities. All authors will be sent an invitation to join this group upon entering our community.

Authors or affiliates who experience problems are asked to please bring them to our attention privately so that we can make reasonable attempts to correct those problems. Our community is not a personal forum for disgruntled or negative individuals to demonstrate bad behavior or ill will toward others. We do not condone censorship, but for the good will and morale of our community, we will ban troublemakers with unfounded complaints. Anyone who cannot abide these expectations need not send us queries.



FREE BOOK LISTINGS. Currently Penumbra Publishing is concentrating on building a catalog of books newly published by us. Later, when our catalog is of sufficient size, we will announce when we are again open to offering FREE book listing service for independent authors and publishers. Listings on our web site of books from independent authors and publishers will have the same look and function as listings for books we publish, that are included in our regular book catalog. However, the publisher's information and purchasing links will be included in independent listings to ensure buyers can properly identify and locate books we do not have on hand for direct sales through our site.

Additionally, authors who provide a short bio and URL for their web site will have a personal listing included with listings of other authors on our 'authors' web page.

To get a book listed on our site, please WAIT for the announcement of when we will resume accepting requests for free listing service. Once that announcement is made, independent authors and publishers may provide the following information and appropriate files via an automated web form we will furnish on our site.

Remember, we can only list books under genres we currently offer and can only use the information provided, so please make sure to include everything pertinent for us to create an appealing listing. Authors are encouraged to get permission from their publishers prior to submitting their books to us for this kind of listing service.

Also note we may limit the number of books we'll list for FREE, or exclude titles that we feel violate our publishing policies. These decisions are at our discretion but may be discussed if supporting evidence is provided to the contrary. Listings and references to the book can be removed upon request with seven business days written notice via email.

For future reference, this is the type of information we will require for listing an independently published book on our site:

FREE PUBLISHER LINK BUTTON. Publishers and independently published authors who want extra promotional exposure for their web sites can request a button or banner link to their web site to be placed on our web site. We will create a button and list it with others in an area reserved for this purpose. Publishers should provide the URL to their web site home page for this type of service. Links can be removed with seven business days notice via email.

DO NOT send information and file attachments to our email address until we reopen our free listing services. If in doubt about anything, please contact us at:


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