What To Do When They Don't Want 'Unsolicited Manuscripts'

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Q. I have recently completed a manuscript for a children's book. I have looked online for publishing companies to send the manuscript. All the publishers I contacted said they do not except "unsolicited" manuscripts. I came across the Guide to Literary Agents website looking for direction. Do you have any suggestions on how to get my manuscript to the publisher for review?
- Marci H.

A. This basic question is probably one of the most common ones out there, so I thought I would address it, even if some readers already know the answer.
First of all, let's just define it real quick: An unsolicited manuscript is one that has not been requested. So what that means is you can't send any mss in for review that were not first requested. If you do, these submissions will not be considered.
To get over this hurdle, you basically have two options. First, you can look for a literary agent who will represent you. The literary agent represents your work when dealing with editors and only sends it to editors she knows. Therefore, the work is now solicited.
Second, you can query the publisher. Just send them a one-page letter (the query) asking if you can submit the entire ms or at least a sample for review. If they like your query and are intrigued by the book's concept, they will request sample chapters or perhaps the entire thing. Since they have just requested some writing, the work is now solicited.