What We Want

Actual Left is transitioning from a publisher of novels and memoirs to a publisher of mixed anthologies that include short stories, essays, and poems. As such, we’re currently looking for short works that deal with one or more of the major social justice issues of our age: capitalist exploitation, imperialism, patriarchy, racism, misogyny, climate change, etc. Until recently, Actual Left (under our former name, Xi Draconis Books) was one of the very few presses that dealt specifically with social justice issues, and we think that small publishing still needs a stance like ours, especially as times become more and more troubling.

Short Stories

We tend to prefer works that tell good stories and have solid voices. We’re less interested in experimental works. Beautiful prose and stylistic innovation are fine, but if you’re story doesn’t go anywhere, we’ll probably find it boring and / or incomprehensible. Check out the Masthead page for a list of writers beloved by our editor-in-chief.

Please send us stories of no more than 10,000 words.


If most poetry being published in small presses these days tends either to be confessional poetry or experimental poetry, we’d have to say we prefer the former to the latter. As with short stories, we are really more interested in works that focus on meaning over aesthetic boundary-pushing. Take a look at the book of poetry we published by Jennifer Lagier, Trumped Up Electionto get a good understanding of what we like.

Please send three to five poems in a single Word or PDF attachment.


We really love the old school nonfiction of Orwell, James Baldwin, Montaigne, and Charles Lamb, which addresses weighty themes while maintaining stylistic transparency. We also like Rebecca Solnit, Natalie Kusz, Atul Gawande, Harriet Ann Jacobs, and John McPhee, among others. These authors typically write clear-headed, thought-provoking nonfiction, which we like a great deal. We’re also interested in hybrid personal-essay / lit-crit pieces that take traditional literary criticism and liven it up with personal elements.

Please send us essays of no more than 10,000 words.

Before You Submit

Review our catalog of books. Read a chapter or two of one of them, or maybe the whole thing. This is probably the best way to know whether your work is a good fit for us. If you read a chapter and think to yourself, “This book isn’t for me,” then we may not be the best press to represent you.

How We Want It

Please submit your previously unpublished work to


A query letter as a Word or PDF attachment with an enticing blurb that explains how your submission deals with social justice issues, an explanation of how you heard about us, and a brief bio* containing previous publishing credits, if you have any. (If you don’t, no worries.)

The full manuscript of your submission as a Word or PDF attachment.

*This bio will be used if your submission is accepted, so write it accordingly.

When We Want It

As of now, we are open for submissions year-round. We’re currently looking to publish our first anthology of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction in the latter half of 2022.

Give us four weeks to respond. If we haven’t contacted you by then, send us a message through our Contact page.

What To Expect If We Accept Your Submission

If we want to publish your submission, we will send you an email within four weeks. We will then send a contract for you to sign. It will look something like this.

Authors we publish receive one free copy of the anthology in which their work appears. Our anthologies will be distributed through KDP and advertised on AWP’s website.