Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Call for Submissions & Full Guidelines

Third Person Press will be open to submissions of novel manuscripts during the month of February, 2015. All of the following details are important to us! Before submitting, be sure that you've read and followed all guidelines. 

If you are experienced with the process of submitting your work professionally, you won't find any surprises here, but there are always variations between publishers so read them to make sure. If you aren't experienced, you'll need to become familiar with this process if you want to be taken seriously as a writer, so please follow the instructions very carefully. 

Trust us, there's nothing tricky or difficult here, but there are very good reasons for all guidelines. You wouldn't believe some of the things...but don't get us started on that.


Who: Writers from Atlantic Canada
What: The first 3 chapters or 50 pages of your completed 70,000-100,000 word, speculative fiction novel AND a synopsis (3-5 pages)
When: February 1 – February 28, 2015 (Atlantic Time)
Keep Reading!

What We Want

Completed, edited, polished speculative fiction novels, YA or adult, of between 70,000 and 100,000 words. (If you have a novel manuscript that's a little longer or shorter, you may query us by email to see if we are willing to take a look at it.)
  • Do not send us a first draft no matter how good you think it is. There will be other calls for submissions. Take plenty of time to review and edit it before submitting.
  • Do not send the entire manuscript. We only want to see the first 50 or so pages. End your submission at the end of chapter--if that's a little less or a little more than 50 pages, that's okay. Please do not send us a lot more or less.
Submissions must be in the speculative fiction genre. This includes: science fiction, fantasy, horror, magic realism, paranormal, steampunk, and all their various sub-genres. Manuscripts that combine genres, such as mystery and science fiction, or romance and fantasy, are welcome, but all stories must be speculative.

If you are unsure what constitutes speculative fiction, or want to increase the chances that we’ll love your submission, please read our general guidelines. You might also want to check out this essay and our series of blog posts aimed at helping writers fix story problems. 

For this submission period, we will be open to submissions from writers in Atlantic Canada.

What we do NOT want:
  • stories or chapter books, or novels for younger readers.
  • fan fiction, graphic novels, pornography, erotica, or excessive/gratuitous vulgarity, violence or gore.
  • collections of short stories, mainstream novels, memoirs, unfinished novels

Submission Parameters

1. The submission period runs from 12:01 a.m. (Atlantic Standard Time) February 1, 2015, to 11:59 p.m. (AST) February 28, 2015. Submissions must be received within that time period. Submissions received before the submission period opens, or after it closes, will be discarded unread.
2. All submissions must be made by email only to thirdpersonpress (at) and should include a cover letter (see #4 below) and two attached files:
  • three-to-five-page synopsis of your novel
  • your manuscript file consisting of the first 3 chapters or 50 pages of your novel.
3. Your files should be attached in .rtf, .odt, or .doc format and named according to this style: File-YourLastName-TitleorPartialTitleofNovel. So:
  • Your manuscript file would be: Manuscript-Lastname-IdentifyingWordsFromTitle.rtf (or .odt or .doc - you get the idea, right?)
  • Your synopsis file would be: Synopsis-Lastname-IdentifyingWordsFromTitle.rtf
So, for example, if an author named Shelby Montgomery were submitting a novel manuscript titled "The Way of All Robots" her synopsis file would be named something like Synopsis-Montgomery-AllRobots.rtf. Shelby's novel manuscript file would be named Submission-Montgomery-AllRobots.rtf.
Use the same title short form for both the synopsis and the submission, so it's easy for us to match them up!
4. Include a brief cover letter in the body of your email, giving us a one-paragraph pitch for your novel, and telling us a little about yourself and your writing. This doesn't have to be more than a few lines. (In fact, keep it brief so we'll get to your manuscript that much faster!)

Manuscript Format

The contents of your manuscript file must be in standard submission format. If your manuscript deviates very far from this, we're not likely to read it. Here's a list of exactly what we'd like to see:
  • set a 1 inch (that's 2.5 cm) margin on all sides
  • include a title page with ONLY the following information: 
    • your name
    • your email address
    • your mailing address
    • the title of the novel
    • the word count of the novel
    • how you would classify the genre of the novel (adult science fiction, YA urban fantasy, etc.). Don't stress about classifying your novel--this is just to give us a general idea.
  • include a header in your manuscript so that it appears on each page (we don't mind if this header appears on your title page as well). The header should include your last name, the title of your novel in ALL CAPS, and the page number. Italicize it if you'd like. Like this: 
    • Montgomery THE WAY OF ALL ROBOTS 165
    • or this: Montgomery THE WAY OF ALL ROBOTS 165
    • DON'T create a header by using hard returns and spacing around it--use the "header" feature in your software to set it up. If you don't know how to do this, go online and find out! Trying to hand-format a header leads to a terrible mess the second one of us opens it in a word processor different from yours.
  • start each new chapter on a new page. The chapter number (and chapter title, if you use them), should be in ALL CAPS, like this: CHAPTER 1--AWAKENING. Space down four to six lines to begin the chapter text.
  • double-space the entire text
  • indent paragraphs--DO NOT use block paragraphing with white space between paragraphs.
  • use a standard font (Times New Roman, Arial, or Courier) in 12-point type size. Weird or hard-to-read fonts will make us annoyed with your manuscript before we even start reading it, and who wants that?
  • use standard italics (not underlining) if italics are included


Your synopsis should also be double-spaced. A 12 point font and 1 inch margins should be used. 

The most important thing we're looking for in your synopsis is the flow, arc and completeness of your story; how one thing leads to another, how your characters act and react, how it all comes together in the end. Concentrate more on that than on style, if you're having trouble. 

Do not leave out the exciting bits or the ending for the sake of "suspense." Your potential editor/publisher should know all the important things that happen in your novel.

They aren't easy or fun to write. Here are some helpful links: 

Response Times

You will receive a prompt acknowledgment of your submission. If you haven't heard from us in a week, please ask. 

Our response time for your manuscript will depend on the number of submissions we receive. If you haven't heard from us after three months, please query and we will write you back promptly to let you know where we are in the review process. 

Whew! If you've made it this far, congratulations. Follow this page step-by-step when preparing your files, and we look forward to seeing your work! Don't follow it, and we won't be so enthusiastic. Oh, maybe we shouldn't have said that...

Sunday, January 4, 2015

New Year, New Directions

Welcome to 2015! We at Third Person Press hope that you've all had a lovely holiday season, whatever you celebrate (and that if you don't celebrate anything, at least you lucked into some time off!).

As many of you know, we'll be opening to novel submissions for the month of February. Full guidelines for submitting to us will be appearing here very soon, so you'll know what we're expecting and have lots of time to prepare. So keep checking back, subscribe to our mailing list or this site, or follow us on social media so you don't miss any updates.

We look forward to reading your work!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Flashpoint Launch Radio Broadcast

In case you missed it or want to hear it again, Wendy Bergfeldt's CBC Mainstreet radio broadcast from the Flashpoint launch on December 5, 2014 at the McConnell Library in Sydney is now available here: Flashpoint Broadcast

Sherry, Nancy and Julie would like to thank all the participants in the broadcast: Katrina Nicholson, Patrick Charron, Steph Snow and Larry Gibbons. As well, we appreciate the contributors who read from their stories that evening. Thank you Flashpoint authors Patrick Charron, Kerry Anne Fudge, Jenn Tubrett and, reading from her new novel, The Murder Prophet, Sherry D. Ramsey. We also appreciate the goodies that so many people volunteered to bring. It was a great spread as usual.

And finally, many thanks to all our contributors, to DC Troicuk for the introduction and to Wendy Bergfeldt who graciously and beautifully helped us launch this book of wonderful stories.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Flashpoint Launch Date

We're set to launch Flashpoint, Volume 4 of the Speculative Elements series, on Friday, December 5, 2014 from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. at the McConnell Library in Sydney. Flashpoint features short stories by new and well-known Cape Breton writers, and an introduction by writer and past contributor to Third Person Press anthologies, D.C. Troicuk.

The public is welcome to come for refreshments, book sales (all Third Person Press titles will be available) and to meet and have their books signed if they wish by the writers in attendance. Patrick M. Charron, Kerry Anne Fudge, and Jenn Tubrett will read from their Flashpoint stories. As well, Sherry D. Ramsey will offer a reading from her latest novel, The Murder Prophet, along with copies of her book for purchase.The CBC's Wendy Bergfeldt and Mainstreet Cape Breton will be on hand to broadcast from the launch.

If you have someone on your Christmas list who'd love a book this year, this is a perfect time to get some shopping done! We hope to see you there!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Call for Submissions

Third Person Press is pleased to announce that we will be open to submissions of novel-length manuscripts during the month of February, 2015.

What we’re looking for:

Completed speculative fiction novels, YA or adult, of between 70,000 and 100,000 words.

Submissions must be in the speculative fiction genre. This includes: science fiction, fantasy, horror, magic realism, paranormal, steampunk, etc. and all their various sub-genres. Manuscripts that combine genres, such as mystery and science fiction, or romance and fantasy, are welcome, but all stories must include some speculative element.

For this submission period, we will be open to submissions from writers in Atlantic Canada.

What we're NOT looking for:

  • stories or chapter books for younger readers.
  • fan fiction, pornography, erotica, or excessive/gratuitous vulgarity, violence or gore.
  • collections of short stories


Submissions received before the submission period opens will be discarded unread.

Full guidelines for what to send us will be posted here by January 15, 2015.  A three-to-five page synopsis will be required.

If you wish, you can join or subscribe to our site to be notified of updates.

If you’re not sure what constitutes speculative fiction, or want to increase the chances that we’ll love your submission, please read our general guidelines. You might also want to check out this essay and our series of blog posts aimed at helping writers fix story problems.

We're excited to be embarking on a new venture with Third Person Press. Get those novels ready!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

1001 Ways to Wreck a Story - Part Nine

Sherry here, with another tip on how to avoid wrecking your story. This one grows out of the mildly famous "white room syndrome," possibly first mentioned in that critical manual for SF workshops, the Turkey City Lexicon. In that instance, the main character wakes up in a "white room"--largely because the writer has failed to invent the details of that setting but has forged ahead with the story anyway. This problem is even more insidious than that initial white room, however. Maybe we'll call this one the Out-of-Focus-Background.

The Problem
You know that portrait photography technique, where the focus of the picture is sharp and clear on the main subject, but all else around them is a fuzzy blur of colours? That may produce a beautiful portrait, but it doesn't work so well for stories. In a story with an Out-of-Focus-Background, we might know generally where the character or characters are situated, but there's little description or concrete detail to help ground us in the world of the tale. Characters may live in a house or work in an office, but we never find out what these places really look, smell, or sound like.

To compound the problem, characters may move through these blurry backgrounds in equally fuzzy ways. We don't know how they get from A to B, how long it takes, or what they encounter along the way.  Characters seem completely disconnected from, and unaffected by, their surroundings.

The Fix
Take some time and visualize your characters' world. Make "sensory cheat sheets" for locations in the story. Imagine you are standing in your character's place in a particular scene, and jot down a quick list of words that describe the surroundings: temperature, smells, sounds, colours, textures. What's above you? What's below? What's the light like? What objects surround you? What's the general condition of the place, and how does it make you feel?

Then use a few of these sensory impressions in every scene--choose the ones that have the greatest impact on your characters or their actions. Don't include your entire laundry-list of sensory details in your story for every setting, but have that list fixed firmly in your head, and sprinkle in the most appropriate details for the scene you're writing. Those details might change from scene to scene--for example, when your character checks in to a hotel room, she might briefly notice that the bedspread looks clean and tidy and the room smells of disinfectant. Later, when she's settling in for the night, she notices those odd stains on the carpet and the chill in the air that the heater can't banish.

Have characters interact with the objects you've placed in the scene. We touch things, pick them up, move them around, straighten them, clean them, and generally interact with items all the time, and--staying within the boundaries of what serves the story--so should your characters. We notice colours and details, pick up on scents, react to the temperature--and so should your characters.

And if characters are going from apartment to work, or castle to battlefield, or spaceship to colony planet, they have to get there somehow. Sometimes it's important to show the reader how they do that, and what happens along the way. Occasionally it's fine to say that "X arrived at the office the next morning, freshly shaved and barely hung over," but don't forget that sometimes we need to know if he drove, took the bus, or slept on the subway train.

Unlike the subject of a portrait, who comes to the forefront and is removed from their surroundings, your characters need to fully inhabit the world they live in. Don't leave the background out of focus. Make it as sharp and clear with detail as everything else, put your characters firmly in the middle of it, and your story will come to life for the reader.

Photo by artM