What Is an On Spec Manuscript

Glossary > On Spec Manuscript

💬 Definition of On a Spec Manuscript:

An "on spec" manuscript refers to a written work that an author has completed without a guaranteed publishing contract or prior agreement with a publisher. The author writes the manuscript "on speculation" that somebody will accept it for publication. While this approach can be risky, it allows authors to explore their ideas without constraints.

Related questions about "on spec" manuscripts:

What are the pros and cons of an “on spec” manuscript?


  1. Creative freedom: Writing on spec allows authors to pursue their passions and explore unique ideas without the limitations imposed by a predetermined publishing contract.
  2. Flexibility: Authors can adjust their writing schedule and approach according to their needs without the pressure of meeting contractual deadlines or specific requirements.
  3. Diverse opportunities: With a completed manuscript, authors can pitch their work to multiple publishers, potentially opening up a broader range of publishing opportunities.


  1. No guarantee of publication: On spec manuscripts carry the risk that the author's work may not be published, potentially resulting in wasted time and effort.
  2. Limited resources: Without a publishing contract, authors may lack the financial support, professional editing, and marketing resources typically provided by publishers.
  3. Greater competition: Since on spec manuscripts are written without an established market, authors may face increased competition when pitching their work to publishers.

What are the best tips to get an on spec manuscript published?

  1. Research the market: Before starting your manuscript, study the publishing market to identify trends and opportunities. This can help you tailor your manuscript to better align with publishers' interests and increase the likelihood of acceptance.
  2. Develop a strong pitch: When submitting your manuscript to publishers, it's crucial to have a compelling pitch that captures the essence of your work and highlights its unique selling points.
  3. Network with industry professionals: Attend conferences, workshops, and other industry events to build relationships with editors, agents, and publishers. Networking can lead to valuable connections and opportunities for your manuscript.
  4. Revise and polish your manuscript: Ensure that your manuscript is professionally edited and proofread, free of errors, and well-structured. A polished manuscript is more likely to be considered by publishers.
  5. Be persistent: Publishing is a competitive industry, and rejection is a common part of the process. Stay persistent in submitting your manuscript to multiple publishers and consider incorporating feedback to improve your chances of success.

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