12 Imprints of Big 5 Publishers Open to Unsolicited Submissions

Written by Emily Harstone | February 20, 2017

Getting published by one of the big five publishers (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster) might seem impossible without an agent, but it is not.

Most of these publishers have an imprint that accepts unsolicited submissions or queries. These imprints are sometimes very specific in terms of what genre they publish, others are very broad.

Some are print and many are digital first. Digital first, in most cases, means they publish an eBook version and if it does well, they follow it up with a traditional print run. Not all of them are currently open to submissions at this time, but all have plans to re-open.

The great thing about being published by one of the big five is they have more design, marketing, and editing expertise than most other publishers open to unsolicited submissions.

Publishing with one of these imprints is a great way to get your foot in the door.

Loveswept and Flirt

Loveswept and Flirt are Random House’s digital only imprints focused on romance and women’s fiction. They are accepting queries for submissions in contemporary romance, erotica, historical romance, paranormal romance, women’s fiction, and new adult.

SWP Swerve

St Martin’s Press is an imprint of Macmillan. SMP Swerve is the digital first romance publishing imprint of St Martin’s. Digital first is a term applied to publishers and imprints that initially publish eBooks and then depending on the success of the book, or sometimes other factors stated in advance by the publisher, a print version of the book is released.

Dial Books For Young Readers

Dial Books For Young Readers publishes hardcover books aimed at children of all ages, including young adults. They are an imprint of Penguin that accepts unsolicited submissions. The catch? They do not respond to unsolicited submissions unless they are interested in the book. That means don’t expect a rejection from Dial, personal or otherwise.

Forever Yours

Forever is the romance imprint of Grand Central Publishing. Grand Central Publishing is the imprint of the Hachette Book Group. Forever Yours is the digital sister of Forever, they focus on publishing un agented authors, and often publish authors without a publication history. They publish eBooks, but they an option to print on demand any book over 50,000 words in length.

Alibi

Alibi is Random House’s digital first imprint that focuses on publishing mysteries and thrillers. All Alibi books are initially published as eBooks, but if they do well, a print version will also be published. Alibi books have a marketing team devoted to them.

WITNESS Impulse

WITNESS Impulse is a digital first imprint of Harper Collins. They publish a wide variety of mystery novels, including digital editions by some of the most famous mystery writers of all time, including my personal favorite Agatha Christie. However, they also publish new and emerging authors. It is important to note they usually publish print editions of their books. However, they always publish the digital version first.

Tor/Forge

Tor/Forge publishes science fiction and fantasy books. Run by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, Tor/Forge is an imprint of Macmillan, one of the big five publishers. Tor is one of the most established science fiction publishers and they have won the Locus Award for best SF publisher 26 years in a row. They offer advances.

Avon Romance

Avon Romance is a romance imprint of HarperCollins. Avon Impulse is their digital first imprint and they publish primarily new authors because of this. If your book does well in terms of digital sales and it is over 25,000 words in length, it will receive a print run and receive good distribution. Books that receive a print run are officially published by Avon Romance for the print edition (and not Impulse).

Harlequin

Harlequin is easily the most famous romance only publisher out there. In fact, their name was synonymous with romance novels when I was growing up. They have wide distribution, from grocery stores to bookstores. They are everywhere. A few years ago HarperCollins purchased the company.

DAW

DAW is an imprint of Penguin that is open to manuscript submissions from authors without an agent. This is unusual and a great opportunity. DAW is a highly respected publisher of Science Fiction and Fantasy. DAW has published authors such as Marion Zimmer Bradley and Roger Zelazny. DAW has published many bestselling books and they have published Hugo award winning books. So they are respected and popular.

Harper Legend

HarperLegend is looking to publish a very specific kind of book. They call it visionary fiction.

Hydra

Hydra is a digital first Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror imprint of Random House. That means that they publish manuscripts in an e-book format that is available everywhere (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc). If the book does well digitally, a print edition will follow.  They are open to queries and will try to respond to all queries within a month.