Having a good idea of which publishers would be a good fit for the manuscript you’re querying is a great way to get a feel for the market, pinpoint a literary agent, or find opportunities for unsolicited opportunities. This is a list of some of our favorite independent literary fiction publishers that exist right now. While there are certainly tons more, we’ve chosen this list based solely on current reputation, web presence, and quantity of books published per year.
Here are 8 awesome independent presses in the U.S. listed in no particular order.
Graywolf Press is a leading independent publisher committed to the discovery and energetic publication of twenty-first century American and international literature. They champion outstanding writers at all stages of their careers to ensure that adventurous readers can find underrepresented and diverse voices in a crowded marketplace.
Today, Graywolf is considered one of the nation’s leading nonprofit publishers, with a $4 million annual budget. They remain dedicated to publishing poetry, and our lists have expanded to include fiction and nonfiction as well. They publish 30–35 books each year by authors at all stages of their careers, from the United States and around the world.
Graywolf Press is looking for high quality literary fiction with a distinct voice and vision. Their editors seek out and solicit promising work from authors that they encounter in the pages of magazines, at writing conferences, and in other venues. They do not accept unsolicited submissions outside of open calls.
Coffee House Press
Coffee House Press creates new spaces for audiences and artists to interact, inspiring readers and enriching communities by expanding the definition of what literature is, what it can do, and who it belongs to.
Coffee House Press publishes literary novels, full-length short story collections, poetry, creative nonfiction, book-length essays, and essay collections. CHP does not accept submissions of anthologies or books for children or young adults.
Coffee House Press is not currently accepting submissions, but may accept during open calls when applicable.
The review process for full-length manuscripts can take up to 4–6 months, or longer in some instances. Phone calls, emails, or letters of inquiry will not hasten the process.
Milkweed Editions is an independent publisher of literary fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Their mission is to identify, nurture, and publish transformative literature, and build an engaged community around it.
As a 501(c)3 nonprofit, our work is made possible by the generosity of sustaining funders and readers like you.
Milkweed Editions publishes 18-20 books per year of nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and translation. They are not currently open to unsolicited submissions.
Melville House is an independent publisher located in Brooklyn, New York. It was founded in 2001 by sculptor Valerie Merians and fiction writer/journalist Dennis Johnson, in order to publish Poetry After 9/11, a book of material culled from Johnson’s groundbreaking MobyLives book blog.
Melville House is also well-known for its fiction, with two Nobel Prize winners on its list: Imre Kertesz and Heinrich Boll. In particular, the company has developed a world-wide reputation for its rediscovery of forgotten international writers.
Melville House unfortunately does not accept any unsolicited submissions.
New Directions is an independent press that publishes fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and more. They were founded in 1936, when James Laughlin (1914–1997), then a twenty-two-year-old Harvard sophomore, issued the first of the New Directions anthologies. “I asked Ezra Pound for ‘career advice,’” James Laughlin recalled. “He had been seeing my poems for months and had ruled them hopeless. He urged me to finish Harvard and then do ‘something’ useful.”
New Directions can no longer accept unsolicited manuscripts. They have limited staff resources and need all hands on deck to continue publishing books, according to their website.
Europa Editions is an independent publisher of quality fiction. The company was founded in 2005 by Sandro Ferri and Sandra Ozzola Ferri, who are also the owners and publishers of the Italian press, Edizioni E/O. The idea behind the creation of Europa Editions was to capitalize on Edizioni E/O’s deep roots in European publishing to bring fresh international voices to the American and British markets and to provide quality editions that have a distinct look and consistently high levels of editorial standards.
Europa Editions publishes about thirty-five titles a year. In its first ten years, the company has published books by authors from twenty-six different countries, making it one of the leading US publishers of international fiction.
Europa Editions does not currently accept unsolicited submissions.
W. W. Norton and Company
W. W. Norton publishes 400 books annually through its trade, college, and professional departments. Whether you are a reader in search of enduring fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, a student or instructor seeking outstanding course books and digital materials, an enthusiast eager for food and lifestyle inspiration, or a professional looking for authoritative new works, you have come to the right place. Independent since 1923, employee-owned, and proud to publish “books that live,” Norton is here for you.
Due to the workload of their editorial staff and the large volume of materials they receive, Norton is no longer able to accept unsolicited submissions. If you are seeking publication, they suggest working with a literary agent who will represent you to the house.
Kensington Publishing Corp.
Founded in 1974, Kensington Publishing Corp. is located in New York City and is known as “America’s Independent Publisher.” The house of New York Times bestselling authors, including Fern Michaels, Lisa Jackson, Joanne Fluke, William W. Johnstone, and many others, Kensington publishes over 500 fiction and non-fiction titles each year. Its diverse imprints – Kensington Books, Zebra, Pinnacle, Dafina, Citadel Press and Lyrical Press – are well known for providing readers with a range of popular genres such as thrillers, romance, historical fiction, cozy mysteries and non-fiction, as well as true-crime, western, and commercial fiction titles.
Since its founding in 1974, Kensington has introduced the world to dozens of bestselling writers and developed countless marketing innovations while remaining steadfastly independent. The staff totals over 80 employees. Kensington boasts both a dedicated on-staff sales team as well as the full strength of Penguin Random House Publisher Services’ global sales force. The company can respond quickly to trends, to put books into the hands of readers faster than larger publishers can, and we support them with targeted promotional and marketing programs to generate reader excitement.
Kensington Publishing Corp. publishes approximately 500 new titles per year.
Does currently accept unsolicited works directly to the editor via email. Queries should be pasted directly within the email without any additional documents attached. See their submission page here for more details.
Mel Beasley has a bachelor’s in creative writing and journalism from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He brings 9+ years of digital marketing and writing experience to the table by writing for publications such as Lumina News and Encore Magazine. He spent 2 years as a college-level writing tutor, and is a certified writing tutor through the CRLA, which is a prestigious cert recognized by the Association for the Coaching & Tutoring Profession. He is a professional SEO blogger with experience writing for brands such as Boardworks Education and The Greater Wilmington Business Journal. One of his latest website and marketing projects has been building the website for the now New York Times Bestselling author, Nina de Gramont.