a haven for books that matter

Call for Unagented Submissions

Over our first decade, we’ve championed emerging and historically underrepresented voices, as well as overlooked gems by established writers, to build a catalog of nationally award-winning titles. We’re especially proud of our work nurturing authors in the promising early stages of their careers and of our commitment to a more diverse and inclusive publishing industry. We welcome submissions from people of color, LGBTQIA people, people with disabilities, voices from rural America, and the intersections of these points of view.

As a small, independent press, we publish a single, extraordinary book a year. Our boutique model allows for devoted focus from our faculty publisher, editors, and designers, as well as student apprentices enrolled in the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s renowned programs in writing and publishing. Every book we usher into the world contributes to the education of the next generation of publishing professionals. Our lead title each year receives dedicated care through collaborative developmental and line editing, thoughtful design, tailored marketing, and enthusiastic promotion, including book tours and other outreach.


Lookout Books is currently closed to unsolicited submissions, except through our editorial advisory board and agents, but we plan to reopen in summer 2024! Stay tuned for details.

You can find our archived call for submissions below:

What we publish: fiction (novels and story collections), poetry collections, and nonfiction (essay collections and memoir, especially those that incorporate elements of research, history, or literary inquiry)

What to send: Please do not pitch a project for which you do not already have a complete manuscript. Previously unpublished manuscripts only. Please include an acknowledgments page for any individual poems, essays, or stories that have appeared in journals and magazines.

While this submission window privileges unagented authors, agents are welcome to reach out directly to our publisher, Emily Smith, or editor, KaToya Ellis Fleming.

Your submission should include the following:

    • A one-page query letter, introducing yourself and your book and detailing why your project is a good fit for our mission. Include the title, genre, length, and a description of the manuscript. We’d like to hear about any relevant credentials or background that make you the ideal author of your project. If you have a well-established platform or other marketing leads, please include those as well.
    • One sample story, essay, or chapter of a novel or memoir (preferably the first), that best illustrates your writing and your book’s theme and tone (up to thirty pages), as well as a full table of contents (if applicable).
      • Nonfiction writers, if you have a complete book proposal, we would be happy to consider it, including the sample chapter mentioned above.
      • Poets, in addition to the query letter, please submit up to fifteen pages of poems total.

Formatting: Samples and proposals should be in a readable 12-point font, double-spaced with pages numbered. Include your query letter as the first page, and email the combined PDF as an attachment. Please include your name, phone number, and email address in the query and throughout the manuscript header.

Submit an email with the subject line—SUBMISSION: LAST NAME, FIRST NAME, GENRE (CNF, FIC, or POE)—to lookout [at] uncw [dot] edu. Please attach your file as a single PDF. We will read those submitted only before midnight on Friday, July 15, 2022.

Unfortunately, due to the volume of submissions, and our itty-bitty editorial team, you will hear from us only if we would like to learn more about your project. If you haven’t heard back within six months, please assume that your manuscript was not a good fit for us.