While I do think getting an agent is the best route to go…
We don’t all have the luxury to find an agent who loves our manuscript the way we hoped they would. If you’re looking for an alternative to self-publishing to get your book out there, you might consider these imprints. Some of them even take books on that have been previously self or traditionally published, as long as you have the rights back.
Remember, it’s best not to query agents and publishers at the same time. Go one route or the other, or exhaust one and then the other.
Most of these publishers close on occasion and then reopen when they’ve sorted through their slush. Patience is still required. 😉 You can follow them on social media to see when they reopen.
Also, take note that several of them do not read queries but only take pages or the full manuscript via submission forms. Do your homework and read the submission pages carefully!
Another alternative are mid-size or smaller, independent publishers that can help you garner a fan base that can help you get an agent or bigger deal later on.
I’ll add to this as I find more.
Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin/Random House
They produce hardbacks of Picture Book, Middle Grade, and Young Adult
You can download their submission guidelines here.
TOR/Forge, imprints of Macmillan
They accept submissions in science fiction and fantasy, fiction of all other types including but not limited to general fiction, historical fiction, horror, mystery, paranormal, suspense/thriller, urban fantasy, and women’s fiction. Children’s and Young Adult books for the chapter book, middle grade, and young adult audiences.
Their submissions guidelines can be found if you scroll down this page.
Alibi, Penguin/Random House
A digital-only imprint focused on mystery and thriller fiction titles.
WITNESS, from Harper Collins Publishers
They accept thriller, mystery, or suspense novel manuscripts.
Forever and Forever Yours, imprints of Hachette Book Group, Grand Central Publishing.
They’re interested in all styles of romance, particularly contemporary, diverse reads, romantic suspense, cowboys, historicals, and paranormal.
They do not accept YA, fantasy, mystery, general fiction, or nonfiction. Novels should be between 50,000-100,000 words. Novellas should be 25,000-50,000 words.
For submission guidelines go here.
AVON Impulse, Harper Collins
Big, high concept historical and contemporary romances! Primarily, inclusive and diverse romances that reflect our world–all sexualities, races, ethnicities, religions, genders, body types, disabilities, and ages!
For submissions guidelines, go here.
Harlequin, Harper Collins
All sub-genres of romance. So many, in fact, that they have a list of their imprints to submit to with subbmission guidelines here.
Make sure and read carefully and scroll to the bottom to find the imprints that take unagented submissions.
They also accept unagented submissions in a wide range of genres for our digital-first single-title imprint, Carina Press. Visit carinapress.com to learn more.
Loveswept and Flirt, Penguin/Random House
Digital-only imprints focused on romance and women’s fiction titles.
Their contract was a point of contention for a long time, and royalties are split 50/50 with no advance, but it’s a viable way to get your book out there and start getting fans. You can read more about the initial controversy here.
SMP Swerve, St. Martin’s Press, Macmillan
A digital first imprint. The SMP Swerve team seeks for romance authors. From their page: We are looking for dynamic and diverse voices, compelling stories, and authors who are ready to build their brand.
DAW, Penguin/Random House
DAW accepts unsolicited submissions of science fiction and fantasy novels. No short story collections, novellas, or poetry. The average length of the novels they publish varies, but is almost never fewer than 80,000 words.
Scroll to the bottom to find their submission info.
Hydra, Penguin/Random House
A digital-only imprint focused on science fiction, fantasy, and horror titles.
HarperLegend, Harper Collins
They occasionally shut this page and it’ll seem like an error. It just means they’re closed.
All of their works have spiritual underpinnings akin to The Life of Pi, The Screwtape Letters, etc.
From their site: HarperLegend seeks to discover and publish new authors of visionary and transformational fiction in the digital first format . We know that there are many many writers out there who work in this genre. If you are one of these folks, we want to help your work reach the world. We hope that you will embrace our offer to submit your work to HarperLegend.
FARRAR, STRAUS AND GIROUX, Macmillan
The firm is renowned for its international list of literary fiction, nonfiction, poetry and children’s books.
Scroll down to the word ‘Editorial’ and you’ll find this:
Unsolicited submissions are accepted at Farrar, Straus and Giroux. All submissions must be submitted through the mail—we do not accept electronic submissions, or submissions delivered in person. Please include a cover letter describing your submission, along with the first 50 pages of the manuscript. If you are submitting poems, please include 3-4 poems. If you wish to hear back from us, please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with your submission. If you wish for us to return your manuscript, please include a self-addressed, appropriately sized and stamped envelope with your submission (we cannot return manuscripts if you do not send this envelope with your submission). We will reply in three to five months of the receipt of the submission.
Schwartz & Wade, Penguin-Random House, an imprint of Random House Books for Young Readers
Accepts submissions directly from authors. Schwartz & Wade publishes about 15 to 20 books a year, mostly picture books, as well as middle grade and young adult fiction, non-traditional nonfiction, and graphic novels. Schwartz & Wade also accepts unsolicited picture book manuscripts and proposals for longer books.
Make sure that your submission is a good fit for our small imprint. All submissions may be sent to: Schwartz & Wade Books, Submissions Editor, 1745 Broadway, 10-4, New York, New York 10019.
To review titles currently published under the Schwartz & Wade imprint, visit this link.
Baen Books, Simon & Schuster
publish only science fiction and fantasy. Writers familiar with what we have published in the past will know what sort of material we are most likely to publish in the future: powerful plots with solid scientific and philosophical underpinnings are the sine qua non for consideration for science fiction submissions. As for fantasy, any magical system must be both rigorously coherent and integral to the plot, and overall the work must at least strive for originality.
Delacorte, Penguin-Random House
I know from speaking with Senior Editor, Wendy Loggia, that Delacorte takes unsolicited queries. However, I can’t find anything about where to submit.
Swoonreads is an imprint of Macmillan that accepts all genres of novel-length YA! Anyone can upload their ms to the site and the community of readers and writers can read it and give feedback. Three times per year they select books to publish in print and e-book, based on reader feedback.
This is also a great place to read YA novels!
Many editors also take unsolicited submissions when you meet them at retreats, conferences, or occasionally through contests. Organizations like SCBWI often have editors featured in their newsletters that will also open for a brief window to those belonging to the organization.
If you find anymore, please contact me through the contacts page and I’ll try to include them here.
Quirk does too. Sourcebooks. Entangled. Kensington.
Yep! Thank you, Kathleen! I’m going to do another post about small and mid-size publishers soon! But they’re also a great option!
Thank you for taking the time to post this, it’s really helpful!
You’re very welcome!
Tamara Grantham directed me to your page – THANKS for the great info!
I love Tamara! I’m so glad you found me.
Great Post! Appreciate it.
Great info for authors!
Do you, or anyone in this que, recommend sending a manuscript submission to more than 1 publisher at the same time? It seems to take 4-5mnths to hear back from one publisher at a time, based on the narratives you have explained here. Would it not be beneficial to submit to more than one, so that an author would have more exposure, at the same time, for their respective manuscript?
Thank you for your kind response.
I would absolutely send to more than one publisher at a time. You don’t have enough time to be exclusive.
Hope this helps!
My memoir has been selected by one of the known publishers, the only one I had submitted but it can be published in fall of 2023 which is 2 years hence. You think I should try other publishers or just sit and wait for 2 years. If I should submit, how to approach these mid size publishers who will accept a first time writer.
Hi Kaybee–two years is standard for a manuscript to become a novel. Most traditional publishing takes that long from the offer to the release date. Any other publisher you submit to who is traditional will take just as long, even if they’re mid-sized or small. There are a lot of reasons it takes this long. They have to find and contract an illustrator for the cover, they will want to do standard three-round editing, and they’ll want to have time once the book is finalized to begin promotion efforts.
Hope this helps and congrats on the offer of publication!