Submission Guidelines

Unexpected Paths accepts up to three manuscripts per year of fiction only, novel-length works (50,000 – 90,000 words) in any genre EXCEPT romance, erotica, and religion-based work (any religion). Work should be in a “final draft” status, i.e., no rough or unedited drafts but a draft considered ready for publication.

The audience for your work should be age 16+ or high school junior or higher. There are no restrictions on language; however, violence and sexual situations should be germane to the story, i.e., move the plot along rather than being gratuitous. Male and female roles should be egalitarian, as should be the treatment of characters who are persons of color, disabled, or LGBTQ, i.e., manuscripts advocating discrimination against protected groups will be rejected. However, depictions of discrimination by an antagonist in a manuscript are acceptable; whether that depiction advocates discrimination will be determined by the editor.

Before submission, the manuscript should be professionally edited by someone other than the author. An obviously unedited draft will be rejected without consideration. If an author indicates the manuscript was self-edited, the first 10 pages will be reviewed to confirm that sufficient editing has occurred.

Note: Once the limit of submissions has been reached, this page will be changed to reflect the date of closure. Any manuscript received after that date will be returned.

Type of Submission:

Electronic only.

File Format:

MS Word .docx preferred; .pdf acceptable.

Manuscript Format:

Submit formatted manuscript to: The subject line of your email should read in upper case: SUBMISSION FOR UNEXPECTED PATHS. Your email should include contact information: email address and a phone number.

Note: Please follow the format guidelines with precision; any manuscript that does not conform to all format guidelines will be rejected.

  • Cover page with the following: Upper left corner – a block containing the author’s name, address, and email and the editor’s name and email or whether the manuscript has been self-edited; upper right corner: a line containing the approximate number of words and the genre; centered midway down the page the manuscript’s title (upper case) and, on a separate, centered line, the manuscript’s subtitle (if applicable) in title case. (See an example below.)
  • Size: 8 1/2″ x 11″
  • Margins: 1″ all around (top, bottom, left, right)
  • Font: At least 12 pt. Times New Roman but no more than 14 pt. Times New Roman. Other acceptable fonts: Garamond, Cochin. Unacceptable Fonts: Comic Sans or any other sans serif font. The exception is chapter numbers or titles may be in any readable font.
  • Header: Author’s last name, manuscript title, page number, e.g., Smith/Title/1. You may shorten the title to one or two words.
  • Footer: Date of submission
  • Spacing: Double-spaced
  • Chapters: Each chapter begins on a new page and is somehow designated as a chapter, e.g., numbered or a chapter title.
  • Scenes: The manuscript shall have some sort of marker to denote a change in scene, e.g., ***, ###, —, etc.
  • General Formatting Requirements:
    1. Italics used for emphasis or to denote a foreign word or phrase only, i.e., do not put a person’s thoughts in italics or in quotes.
    2. No Bold fonts.
    3. Limited use of exclamation points.
    4. Double quotes to denote dialogue; dialogue must be properly punctuated; keep dialogue tags simple, e.g., “said,” “asked,” “inquired,” “replied,” etc.
    5. Usage of upper case should only be to denote shouting or yelling; again, use sparingly.

Sample Cover Page