Writer's Digest


It’s becoming less and less of a secret that the most groundbreaking, innovative books being published today are coming from independent publishers. While every author dreams of their book finding a home with one of the largest five publishing companies (Penguin Random House, Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, and Simon & Schuster), hundreds of small, independent presses are making their mark on bestseller lists, bookstore shelves, award lists, and readers’ hearts. Think of contemporary classics like Claudia Rankine’s Citizen (Graywolf Press, 2014) and recent prize-winners such as The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom (Grove Atlantic, 2019) taking the world by storm.

While large publishers make book sales a priority and acquire books based on which other titles have sold well, small presses are only focused on publishing great books. Many, but not all, indie presses are nonprofit. Big Five publishers choose to allocate their resources based on which books will offer the greatest return on their investment.

So what does this mean for authors? Without indie presses, many authors would go unpublished, their voices unsung. Creative, genre-bending works that don’t fit into any neat silos are celebrated by small publishers, who are more willing to take big risks. And by publishing only a few titles each year, small presses ensure that each author gets the support they deserve during the publishing process and after their book goes out into the world—there are no mid-list authors feeling neglected in a sea of Stephen Kings here.

If the rejection letters for your work-in-progress run the gamut from “not commercial enough” to “it’s just not right for us,” or you’re having trouble landing an agent, it may be time to start querying small publishers. There are many more fantastic indie presses than we are able to fit on the pages of WD, each with its own niche, dedicated team of editors, and loyal readers hungry for more books. Here are 23 small publishers open to new manuscripts to get you started on the path to getting your book published. As an added bonus, each publisher on this list takes submissions whether or not you have an agent.

7.13 Books


“We look for contemporary literary fiction from first-time authors—novels and short story collections. We welcome fiction from traditionally marginalized voices (POC, LGBTQIA+).” “There are certain genres that we don’t feel like we would be great editors for. That includes straight sci-fi, YA, horror, romance, and to a certain extent, historical fiction. They’re genres we don’t feel as comfortable or expert at editing. That said, we welcome all types of submissions and like being surprised.” by Farooq Ahmed; by Beth Lisick. Year-round. “Just send the whole manuscript with a cover letter.” “Make sure the book is finished.

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