Open Call for K-3 Nonfiction Submissions

K-3 nonfiction submissions

By Carol Hinz, Editorial Director of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books

UPDATE AUGUST 16, 2018: The submissions window for this open call is now closed. Thank you to all those who submitted manuscripts. Responses have been sent to all submissions dated April 23, 2018 or earlier. Approximately 130 manuscripts were submitted between that date and the end of the open call; responses to those will be sent by the end of August 2018. Thank you for your patience!

One of my favorite things about children is their sense of wonder. My own kids regularly ask me questions about things I take for granted (“Why does it get dark at night?”) and prompt me to think about familiar things in new ways (“My cheese looks like Minnesota!”)

And what does this have to do with an open call for submissions? I am currently looking for manuscripts for children in grades K-3 that tap into that sense of wonder. Manuscripts should focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, or mathematics) topics and should present those topics in playful or unconventional ways. And finally, these books should be able to be illustrated with photographs, though the author will not expected to do photo research. That said, authors who are also photographers and can provide images are welcome to submit.

More Details

Word Count: 1,000 max.

Back matter: Yes! (the back matter doesn’t need to be complete; a list of proposed back matter will suffice)

Page count: 32 (manuscripts aren’t required to be paginated)

How to submit: In the body of the email, please briefly describe your background/qualifications and note any previous publications; include your submission attached as a Word document (.doc or .docx). If you’re submitting text and photographs together, you may submit a PDF.

Send your submission to:

Deadline: Submissions will be accepted until May 1, 2018.

To get a sense of topics and writing styles that have worked well for the imprint, I recommend taking a look at the following books. (Three of the four of these are picture books, but this particular call is not for books with art; the focus is solely on photographs.)

Handle with Care by Loree Griffin Burns, photos by Ellen Harasimowicz

Water Can Be . . . by Laura Purdie Salas

Plants Can’t Sit Still by Rebecca E. Hirsch

Bone by Bone by Sara Levine

Questions? Please leave a comment on this post, and I’ll respond!

For more posts by Carol Hinz, click here.

116 thoughts on “Open Call for K-3 Nonfiction Submissions

  1. Margaret Albertson

    Are you limiting this call for submissions to STEM? Would you consider STEAM? Thank you. Dr. Margaret E. Albertson.

    1. carolhinz

      Hi, Margaret! I’m open to STEAM as well. The key thing for me is that the manuscript needs to incorporate some element of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics along with a playful or unusual approach.

    2. jodyhaley

      Hi Carol,
      I was so excited when I saw your open call for K-3 nonfiction with photographs! I took it as an assignment and I now know I work well under deadlines and with some direction. I am grateful for your prompt that led to a project with my husband’s photographs of birds. Thank you for the open call that has brought me such joy and opportunity.

      1. carolhinz

        So glad to hear it! I am perpetually fascinated by what’s possible by creatively working within constraints (whether it’s a poetic form or a word count or a prescribed topic).

  2. Lisa Gerin

    Hi, Carol. I have a ms. that tells about different species of dinos in a playful, rhymed way for grades K to 3. It’s 315 words. Does this sound like something you’d be interested in? Thank you.

    1. carolhinz

      Hi, Lisa! This ms. sounds better suited to artwork than to photos, so I’d say it’s not the right for this particular open call. Thanks for asking!

  3. rochellegwrites

    Hi, Carol. My jaw dropped when I saw photos of mounds that termites build…it is a feat that combines science with engineering, as many architects have used the termite model to improve a building’s ventilation. Anyway, I’ve been working on a “This is the House that Jack Built” approach that relays this info. Does this sound like a potential fit for your needs? Thanks for your time and consideration!

    1. carolhinz

      Hi, Rochelle! As long as it would work well with photos accompanying the text, you’re welcome to send it my way. (I’d say if there’s a “main character” termite akin to Jack, that might be tough with photos. Additionally, photos showing the details of termite mound construction you describe in the text also need to exist.)

      1. rochellegwrites

        Great–thanks for your speedy reply! It is photo-based without a character, as the pics are what makes the info crawl off the page (couldn’t help myself:) ).

    1. carolhinz

      Sure! If you have 2 or 3 manuscripts you think are well suited, that’s fine by me. Please submit each manuscript in a separate email.

    1. carolhinz

      I’m checking in with our IT department and will report back; it was working earlier today.

      1. Suzanne Alexander

        Thank you, Carol, for having your IT department fix the email problem. I re-sent my query and manuscript, and all seems well now.

  4. nationaldogweekbook

    Hi Carol – I sent in a ms titled “Our Secret Cenote Adventure” (Please change that My to Our) about a day and evening spent in a special “swimming hole” called a cenote and its unique eco-system. If you’ve ever seen a photograph of a cenote, you’ll understand how mysterious and intriguing they are. I was fortunate to experience one several years ago in Mexico. I’ve included a Spanish Glossary for the species and sites experienced during the Cenote Adventure. Don’t know if it suits your needs, but it would be in the genre of Earth Science.

  5. Connie Anne Hellyer

    Carol, Are you open to narrative non-fiction? Mine is a 530 wd. true-to-life story, plus ample back matter.

    1. carolhinz

      Any nonfiction text structure (including narrative) is fair game. Just as long as the text can be accompanied by photos!

  6. Freda Lewkowicz

    Hi Ms. Hinz. Would you consider a PB biography on Leonard Cohen that focuses on adversity, failing and overcoming obstacles, being bold, and pretty much embracing the old Timex watch motto of ” takes a licking and keeps on ticking” as STEAM? Thank you.

    1. carolhinz

      Hi Freda, what you describe doesn’t sound like a good fit for this particular call for submissions. Thanks you for your interest!

  7. Meline Scheidel

    Hello, I have a manuscript about an insect nymph (dragonfly) and I have kept her identity a surprise until the end and want to know if that is something that would be of interest? Nonfiction/mystery. Also, I feel this life cycle and survivial story can be used in early elementary possibly to assist teachers in lessons dealing with the difference between complete metamorphosis and incomplete.

    1. carolhinz

      Hi, Meline! As long as the manuscript you describe could potentially be illustrated with photographs, you’re welcome to submit it for this open call. Thank you!

  8. Lindsey

    Hi Carol, I submitted one of my books, but I do have a second. Do you accept multiple submissions?

    1. carolhinz

      Hi, Lindsey. Yes, that’s fine. I just ask that you submit each manuscript in a separate message.

  9. Bonni

    Hi Carol, When you say “back matter doesn’t need to be complete; a list of proposed back matter will suffice,” would you be a bit more specific? Do you mean something like a bullet list of topics to be included; or a bibliography; or something else? What do you consider a suitable/sufficient list? Thanks!

    1. carolhinz

      Hi Bonni, thanks for your question! A bullet point list of what would be in the back matter (e.g. additional facts, glossary, further reading, and selected bibliography) would do the trick.

    1. carolhinz

      Hi Brigitte, as long as the photos meet our quality specs, it’s fine if they’ve been posted on a website. Thanks for asking!

  10. Flower Trellils

    I’d like to have some fact “balloons” (not sidebars) within the narrative. How should I format that within my manuscript? Thanks!

    1. carolhinz

      Hi, just label them in some way that makes them distinct from the main text (e.g. “fact balloon: this is a fact”). Thanks for your question!

    1. carolhinz

      Sure, that’s fine for submission purposes. And yes, it would be great if you can paginate the manuscript. Thanks for your questions, Myra!

    1. carolhinz

      Sure, I’d be open to that. I would expect there to be back matter that offers further information and makes strong curricular connections. (Though, to be fair, I look for that sort of back matter in all the nonfiction Millbrook publishes!)

    1. carolhinz

      Hi Lisa, yes, I’d count anything that’s in the main text (rather than back matter) in the word count. Thank you for your question!

  11. Sharon

    Are you open to previously acquired manuscripts? This particular book has not been in print or available to the public, it was through a licensing subscription with school systems. Thank you.

  12. Donna W Martin

    Hi Carol, Thank you for the opportunity to submit to Millbrook Press. I have a quick question. Would you like to see back matter listed below the manuscript or in a separate Word document?

    1. carolhinz

      Hi Donna, great question! I prefer to see the back matter listed below the manuscript–it’s easiest for me to have everything in one place.

  13. Meeg Pincus

    Hi Carol, I have an agent, who reps all my trade/royalty writing, but not flat-fee educational writing (not sure where this falls). I have a manuscript specifically geared to this call. Would you prefer I send it directly to you for the call, or run it through my agent? Thanks so much!

  14. Margaret Albertson

    Would you prefer sidebar text at the end of the manuscript or placed within the the manuscript. Thank you!

  15. Hilary Campbell

    Hi Carol,
    I have an imaginative narrative non-fiction whose story is told by a girl with a wise butterfly friend. The butterfly uses lessons on animal behavior (like pollination) to teach her ways to handle feeling badly. It is written in prose.
    Thanks for your time.

    1. carolhinz

      Hi Esther, you’re welcome to submit the manuscript as long as this is the type of text that could be accompanied by photographs. Thank you!

  16. Louise Tidd

    Hi Carol,
    Will you be letting authors know about the status of their submissions? If so by when?

    1. carolhinz

      Thanks for your question, Louise! My plan is to respond to all submissions by the end of July at the latest. I’ve received more than one hundred manuscripts for this open call, so I will not be able to offer detailed feedback with rejections.

  17. Annette Whipple

    Hello Carol,

    Thank you for taking the time to answer questions. I just submitted two manuscripts to you. Do you respond to each submission? I’m also curious if you have a guess as to how many months it will be before we hear back from you.

    Thanks so much.

    1. carolhinz

      You’re very welcome, Annette! My plan is to respond to all submissions by the end of July at the latest. I’ve received more than one hundred manuscripts for this open call, so I will not be able to offer detailed feedback with rejections.

    1. carolhinz

      Hi, Heather. My plan is to respond to all submissions by the end of July at the latest. I’ve received more than one hundred manuscripts for this open call, so I will not be able to offer detailed feedback with rejections.

  18. Jennifer Lane Wilson

    Hi Carol! Thanks so much for this opportunity. Since you likely will receive a high volume of manuscripts, will you able to respond (yes or no) to every query?

    1. carolhinz

      Hi, Jennifer! My plan is to respond to all submissions by the end of July at the latest. I’ve received more than one hundred manuscripts for this open call, so I will not be able to offer detailed feedback with rejections.

  19. hmmmmm

    I was happy find this call — thank you! A question: are you looking for MSs that can be illustrated EXCLUSIVELY with photos, or are you interested also in projects that might want a combo of photos AND illustrations/graphics rendered in other ways?

    1. carolhinz

      Thanks for your question! For this call, I am looking for mss that can be illustrated exclusively with photos.

      1. hmmmmm

        Thanks Carol. I jumped the gun and sent you something that would really be better with a combo, so please feel free to disregard.
        Have a good weekend!

  20. Kathleen Wilcox

    Hi Carol, I’m working on an alphabet manuscript about interesting things at the beach (Pacific Northwest). I live on the Oregon Coast and also know a local photographer who’s interested in this project. Due to several unexpected family issues in April, I’m wondering if May 1st is still the last day to send a submission. Thank you so much for this open call.

    1. carolhinz

      Hi Kathleen, it would be great if you could send me what you have ready by May 1, even if it’s not as polished as you would like. For instance, you could send the manuscript as well as a few sample photos or a link to the photographer’s online portfolio, and note that if the project looks like a good fit, you’d be able to supply more materials at a later date.

      1. Kathleen Wilcox

        Hi Carol, I appreciate your quick response and suggestions. I’ll be sending you what I have ready on May 1. Thank you so much for offering to review it. Now I’m off to the beach with my grand-daughter to gather more inspiration!

  21. Cris Riedel

    Carol, thank you for the call for submissions. Regarding back matter, would you like material for parents and teachers or keep it to information for children?

    1. carolhinz

      Hi, Chris. I generally think of back matter as having multiple audiences–the child who is especially engaged with the topic, the parent who wants to know more, and the teacher or librarian who can use information in the back matter as they share the book with students. Examples of Millbrook Press titles with the sort of back matter I look for are Dazzle Ships by Chris Barton, Meet My Family by Laura Purdie Salas, and Plants Can’t Sit Still by Rebecca E. Hirsch. Thanks for your question!

  22. Suzanne Lipshaw

    Hi Carol,
    I am on my final polishing stage of a manuscript that will fit this call. Is the submission window open until May 1 or through May 1? Thank you for this opportunity.

    1. carolhinz

      Hi Suzanne, if you can get your submission to me by May 1 at 11:59 pm (central time), that would be great.

  23. Meg Eden

    Hi Carol! I have a manuscript on neuroscience (an ion searching for the right lobe of the brain to find someone’s name), so I’m not sure it works for this particular call–but do you anticipate future calls for more K-3 STEM works? Thanks!

    1. carolhinz

      Hi Meg! Yeah, that manuscript sounds like it wouldn’t be a great fit for photos. It’s certainly possible I might do an open call for STEM-themed picture books in the future. And in the meantime, if you have an agent, they can submit to me at any time. Thanks so much for your interest!

  24. Lisa Gerin

    Hi Carol, I sent my manuscript “Flower Secrets” your way yesterday. At first I got an undeliverable message, but I resent and it seemed to go through. Just checking if you received? Thanks!

  25. Cynthia Argentine

    Hi, Carol. Thank you for the opportunity to submit to Millbrook! I read through the previous comments and learned the answers to several of my questions. Thank you for sharing your responses here. I sent two manuscripts today and am wrapping one to submit tomorrow.

  26. Cynthia Argentine

    Hi, Carol! It seems I am not getting delivery notifications for outgoing emails. Would you mind checking to see whether my submission today came through? Thanks so much!

  27. Suzanne Lipshaw

    Hi Carol,
    Would you like a complete query in the body of the email or just our background/qualifications and previous publication info? I will make this deadline 🙂
    Thank you,

  28. Margaret Al.bertson

    I sent you a MS and I can’t tell if you received it. Can you check for me? I appreciate it. Margaret

    1. carolhinz

      You’re very welcome! My goal is to respond to all submissions by the end of July. Due to the volume of submissions (300+), I will not be able to give detailed feedback on manuscripts that are not the right fit.

  29. Teri Schuch

    Hi Carol, I wanted to check in with you. I submitted a manuscript that I certainly hope you received back in April. I was under the impression that you were going to be back in touch at the end of July. I would love to hear from you with more information about this! Thanks! Teri

  30. Kathleen Wilcox

    Hi Carol, I know you are beyond busy, but when you get a chance, I’d love an update regarding “A, B, Seashore,” my submission to this open call. Thank you for the opportunity and I hope all is going well for you.

    1. carolhinz

      Hi Kathleen, I’ve responded to all submissions that were dated April 11 or earlier. I’ll be sending responses to those dated April 12 to May 1 between now and August 15. Thanks so much for your patience!

  31. Lisa Idzikowski

    Hi Carol, I’m sure you’ve been swamped with this submission call, but I sure hope my manuscript sent on April 25th made it to you. I haven’t heard anything as of this morning. I certainly understand if more time is needed! Thanks, Lisa.

  32. Jennifer Lane Wilson

    Hi, Carol! I don’t mean to be a pest, but wanted to see where you are in terms of responding to these submissions. You’ve probably been overwhelmed by large numbers of manuscripts from writers excited about this opportunity. Since we’re past August 15, is there a way to verify that you received my manuscript, sent April 26? There’s no hurry for you to respond – I just want to make sure you received it in the first place.

    1. carolhinz

      Hi Jennifer and Lisa, thank you both for checking in! I just posted a new update at the beginning of the blog post, and I’ve now responded to everything submitted through April 23. I can confirm that I did receive both of your manuscripts. Please look for a response for me by the end of August. Thank you for your patience!

      1. Lisa Idzikowski

        Thank you Carol, I understand completely, just happy my MS landed where it needed to be!

      2. Jennifer Lane Wilson

        Thanks much for the confirmation and for the opportunity. Wishing you lots of energy for this endeavor!

Leave a Reply