Call for Black Authors

Thank you for your interest in the unagented submissions call for Black writers!

Our open submissions call ended on September 8 for Graydon House and HQN, and August 31 for Inkyard Press. Our inboxes are no longer being monitored for new entries, so we won’t be able to offer feedback on anything sent after the specified closing date. If you submitted to us before the deadline, please expect 90 days (60 for Inkyard entries) to receive feedback from someone on our team. We’re a small group and want to make sure you get the most helpful feedback we can provide, so please understand it may take us a little longer than promised to get back to you. We appreciate your patience!

For more information, here are some questions we’ve been asked throughout the call. 

Post-Submission FAQs: 

How many submissions did you receive during this time? 

Since our initial call on June 10th, 2020, we received over 800 submissions for Graydon House and over 150 for HQN! We’re thrilled and heartened by the amazing response that we received and are busy reading. Thank you to everyone who showed interest, and to everyone who queried us this summer. 

Who is reading my manuscript? 

A member of the editorial staff at Graydon House or HQN will be reviewing and responding to your work. If you’d like to read more about us, please visit or  

When can I expect feedback on my work? 

If you submitted a project to us between June 10th and September 8th, please allow for 90 days (60 days for Inkyard Press) to receive feedback from one of the editors. Given the volume of submissions received, please allow for the possibility of additional time. As a reminder, we are not able to respond to anything that was submitted after 11:59 PM EST on September 8th

By submitting, have I lost any rights to my work? 

Absolutely not. You retain all rights to your intellectual property.  

I didn’t provide a query letter/submission title/author bio along with my 30-page sample. Should I send it to you now? 

Not to worry—we will still review your work, provided it falls within the categories we are able to assess. There’s no need to send additional materials now, unless an editor specifically reaches out asking you to. 

I sent more/less than 30 pages as a work sample. Does my work still qualify for feedback? 

Yes, as long as it is of a category that our imprints publish. If you submitted more than 30 pages, the editor assigned to your work will read up to the 30-page mark. 

I sent a link to a Google doc, but don’t see any edits on my work. Why not? 

We are not able to provide line-by-line edits on your work, but rather overall feedback on your project as a whole. 

I was invited to send in my entire manuscript, but the submissions call has now closed. Have I missed my opportunity? 

You have not! If you received feedback and were asked to send additional materials to us, please know that this offer does not expire and the September 8th, 2020 deadline does not apply here. 

I received feedback on my project, but there’s no offer to publish my work or connect me with an agent. Can you clarify where I stand? 

Our focus for this open call was to offer editorial commentary on your project. If you were not asked to send further materials, we are not considering pursuing your work. Please do not be discouraged! We hope you will keep writing and working on your craft. 

I submitted a manuscript when the call first opened but I’m not sure if it’s a genre Graydon House or HQN publishes. Will you still provide me with feedback? 

Graydon House publishes high-concept book club fiction and upmarket women’s fiction, including historical, suspense, family dramas, and friendship stories. We are unable to read or provide feedback on any projects that fall outside of the categories we publish.  

Graydon House does not publish genre fiction such as crime novels, police procedurals, romantic suspense, fantasy/paranormal fiction, science fiction, or Christian/religious/inspirational fiction. If this is the type of work you are writing, the Harlequin Series lines may be for you

The following categories fall outside of the categories that Graydon House publishes, and we cannot respond to or comment on

  • Genre fiction 
  • Crime novels 
  • Espionage or political thrillers 
  • Police procedurals 
  • Romantic suspense 
  • Fantasy/sci-fi/paranormal/dystopian 
  • Religious/inspirational fiction 
  • Erotica 
  • Young adult, middle-grade, or children’s literature (including picture books) 
  • Poetry collections 
  • Short stories, novellas, or anthologies 
  • Dramatic works meant for the stage 
  • Screenplays 
  • Photography collections or coffee table books 
  • Works of non-fiction including, but not limited to: 
  • Self-help books 
  • How-to books or guidebooks 
  • Workbooks 
  • Cookbooks 
  • Memoirs, autobiographies, or biographies 
  • Academic works or essay collections 

HQN publishes stories that promise a happily ever after. We publish a broad range of romance sub-genres, including contemporary, small town, Western, historical, romantic suspense, and paranormal. We are unable to read or provide feedback on any projects that fall outside of the categories we publish. 

HQN does not publish science fiction, erotica, or Christian/religious/inspirational fiction. If this is the type of work you are writing, the Harlequin Series lines may be for you

The following fall outside of the categories that HQN publishes. We are not able to comment on:

  • Crime novels 
  • Espionage or political thrillers 
  • Police procedurals 
  • Sci-fi/dystopian fiction
  • Religious/inspirational fiction 
  • Erotica  
  • Young adult, middle-grade, or children’s literature (including picture books) 
  • Poetry collections 
  • Short stories, novellas, or anthologies 
  • Dramatic works meant for the stage 
  • Screenplays 
  • Photography collections or coffee table books 
  • Works of non-fiction including, but not limited to: 
  • Self-help books 
  • How-to books or guide books 
  • Workbooks 
  • Cookbooks 
  • Memoirs, autobiographies, or biographies 
  • Academic works or essay collections 

Please know we are incredibly grateful that you considered Graydon House and HQN and trusted us with your work.  

I submitted a work that was shorter than the expected word length. Can I expect to hear back sooner since my work is shorter? 

Graydon House and HQN only publish full-length works, which typically run between 75,000-100,000 words. We’re sorry to say that if you did not send us a project within our required word count, we will not be able to respond to you. If your work was at least 70,000 words and fell in the categories we publish, we will be taking a look at it. 

If you are writing romance, you might be interested in our Harlequin Series lines, which accept projects at lower word counts and are always open to submissions from all writers. For more information and details on how to submit your work, please visit here

I submitted more than one project to you, but only received feedback on one manuscript. Why? 

We are only able to review one project from each creator per imprint. We will review the first submission that came in, provided it falls within the submission guidelines. If the first one is not a fit for the imprint, we will look at the next projects in the order they arrived in our inbox. However, please expect to only receive feedback on one project. 

If you provided a link to a full portfolio or a personal website, we cannot browse or review your complete works.

I submitted the same project to Graydon House, HQN, and Inkyard Press. Who can I expect to hear from? 

This will depend on the type of project you sent in. If you sent the same manuscript to Graydon House and HQN, we’ve made the decision amongst ourselves which imprint the project is a better fit for. You will only receive one response on the project, either from an editor at Graydon House or HQN. 

If it is a young adult story and you sent it directly to Inkyard Press, please refer to Inkyard’s initial open submissions details. Please note that Inkyard’s open submissions call closed on August 31st, 2020, but it will reopen in March 2021. If you are interested in the second open call, please monitor Inkyard’s social media accounts. 

Can you recommend me/my work to other editors or agents now that the call has closed? Or are you able to direct me to a publishing house more suited to my work?  

We are only able to speak for our own imprints, Graydon House and HQN. If we did not make an offer to publish your work, we cannot connect you to an agent or provide recommendations on where you should send your work.  

May I be added to a mailing list to receive alerts about initiatives like this in the future? 

There are no plans for specific mailing lists pertaining to open submissions calls. We invite you to check out our publisher websites or social media feeds for future opportunities. You might find some of these links helpful as well:

Will a winner be announced soon? 

Our open submissions call was not advertised or intended as a contest.  

I left a phone message with the number I found on Graydon House’s website. I asked to be called back, but no one followed up with me. Why not? 

We’re sorry, but we are only able to correspond over e-mail and cannot call you back, text you, or begin a conversation via WhatsApp. 

I sent a hard copy of my manuscript to your office in New York City and/or Toronto. Will my submission still be reviewed? 

We cannot accept or respond to any physical submissions. 

I wanted to participate in your open submissions call but wasn’t able to this summer. Will you be opening your inbox again? 

As we continue to provide feedback on the submissions we have received during this call, we have not yet scheduled another call. Please follow our corporate Twitter account @Bookclubbish for future announcements.

Thank you again for reaching out to us! 

Graydon House

Graydon House Books is a select hardcover and trade paperback imprint dedicated to publishing book club-worthy women’s fiction with strong commercial appeal. Multifaceted, provocative and original, Graydon House novels are page-turners that range in tone from lighthearted humor to emotional tearjerker, edgy suspense to historical drama.

Graydon House is a boutique destination for both promising new talent and bestselling authors who are looking for an accomplished and attentive publisher who can nurture their talent and build their readership.

Your submission material will be read by one of our team members: @Melanie_Fried, @lynn_raposo, @CatClyne, @errin_jade, or @laverybrittany. We can’t wait to hear from you!

HQN Books

HQN Books has redefined romance by publishing the best in mainstream bestseller romance by the finest authors in the field—from rising stars to romance royalty. In 2019, HQN Books placed over 40 titles on bestseller lists (New York TimesUSA TODAY and Publishers Weekly), demonstrating that it offers something for every romance fan, across all formats.

Your submission will be read by one of HQN’s team members: @CatClyne, @laverybrittany, @errin_jade, or @lynn_raposo. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Inkyard Press

Inkyard Press publishes smart, engaging YA fiction across a variety of genres, from realistic contemporary to epic fantasy. We are passionate about publishing diverse voices and giving our readers a chance to see themselves and each other in our books, with grateful acknowledgment to the work of Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop on the importance of “windows” and “mirrors” in literature. For our Black Creators submission call, we are looking for YA fiction, including fantasy, contemporary social issues, mystery, romance, thriller, and horror.

To submit to Inkyard’s un-agented submissions from Black creators, please review the guidelines below. Look out closer to March 2021 for our next open submission call.

Submission Checklist:
Please include the following in the body of the email (NO ATTACHMENTS)

  • 1 sentence PITCH
  • Full story SYNOPSIS (750 words or less)
  • Author BIO (150 words or less)
  • Sample CHAPTERS (10,000 words or less)


Unfortunately, we cannot provide feedback on manuscripts that fall outside of the categories we publish.


Writing FAQs

Do you have any helpful resources and guides for submission?

Yes, below are a few resources to help in preparing your submission.

How to write a synopsis:

How to write an author bio:
Please note: We recognize that everyone’s experiences and background are different. Please take what is helpful from these resources. We ask for bios to learn about each other, not to judge experience or background.

How to write a one-sentence pitch/logline:

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