Ben Ball on Penguin’s ‘Monthly Catch'

Earlier this week, we tweeted the news that Penguin’s general publishing department is now accepting unsolicited manuscripts, in a new initiative titled, ‘The Monthly Catch’. Submissions are restricted to the first week (1-7) of every month, starting on 1 February.

It’s been six years or more since Penguin last accepted unsolicited manuscripts; previously, they considered only those represented by agents.

We knew this was pretty interesting news, but were surprised by just how interested our Twitter followers seemed to be. (There’s a reason Melbourne is a City of Literature, it seems. Lots of writers.)

We spoke to Penguin publisher Ben Ball to discover the thinking behind the company’s new embrace of the unknown and unfiltered.

‘Perhaps the main reason is that the digital world is bringing us closer than ever to readers, and therefore aspiring writers,’ said Ball. ‘We want to be an even more active part of that community.’

‘Our relationship with agents is of course vital, but although we haven’t accepted unsolicited submissions for the last few years, we’ve had a long and successful history of discovering new authors directly. So this is part of our past as well as future.’

Is there any kind of project Penguin are on the lookout for? “Nope,’ Ball told us. ‘We want to discover new things we like, and want to be surprised. We look for books of the highest quality, but we’re a broad church when it comes to subject.’

All manuscripts will be carefully read and assessed, though only successful submissions will be responded to.

Submissions should be sent according to strict (but easy to follow) guidelines, which can be found – along with full details – on Penguin’s website. Most importantly, perhaps: don’t send hard copies. They’ll only be recycled.

As we’ve reported before, other large publishers have their own versions of The Monthly Catch: Allen & Unwin has accepted manuscript pitches from aspiring writers every Friday for years. And last year, Pan Macmillan announced their own version of The Friday Pitch – Manuscript Monday (10am–4pm).

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