24 Publishers of Literary Fiction that Accept Submissions Without an Agent

Written by Emily Harstone

Literary fiction is one of the harder genres to get published in without an agent. There are smaller presses that specialize in it, but unfortunately more and more of those presses are now charging reading fees.

However, there are still good options of authors who are unagented and are averse to paying reading fees. The manuscript publishers on this list cover a wide range. Some are small presses that only publish a few works of literary fiction a year, others are large established presses that just focus on literary fiction along with one or two other genres, others publish literary fiction as part of a wide variety of genres.

Not all of these publishers are currently open to submissions, but most are. This list is in no particular order.

McSweeney’s

McSweeney’s is one of my personal favorite publishers. They publish literary fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. I own a large number of the books they have published in the last decade.

Waywiser

Waywiser is a small independent press based in the UK. They host a yearly contest called The Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize, but they charge a fee for that. They seem to focus on literary prose and poetry. They publish fiction and nonfiction, including essay collections. Unfortunately the only way to submit poetry manuscripts to them is through the contest.

Whiskey Tit

Whiskey Tit is a small press with a focus on publishing what might be difficult to publish elsewhere. Books that are too long, too short, to unconventional books that defy easy categorization and are hard to describe. You can however get a good feel for what they publish by reviewing their catalog here.

Able Muse

Able Muse is a small literary press that has one free reading period every year, from 1st May through 15th July. They also publish a literary journal, and they host a number of contests every year. They publish poetry and fiction primarily, and they will consider nonfiction as long as you query first. Most of the fiction they publish is short story collections and unlike other small presses, some of what they publish is genre work.

Coffee House Press

Coffee House Press (CHP) is a respected literary press with a great reputation. They are only open for short submission periods every year in March and September. These periods are capped at 300 submissions, so submit early. They open on the first of the month. During the last open period they had reached 300 submissions on the third day. Coffee House Press publishes emerging and midcareer authors. They do not focus on bestsellers, but their books are often taught in academic settings and available in libraries and independent bookstores.

BlazeVOX

BlazeVOX is a publisher based out of Buffalo, New York. They are a small independent publisher that focuses on publishing innovative literary fiction and poetry manuscripts.

Acre Books

Acre Books is an imprint of The Cincinnati Review. They focus on publishing literary fiction and poetry. They are interested in novels and short story collections. They are not accepting submissions of full manuscripts. They ask that authors query first.

While Acre Books is still new, they are an offshoot of the well respected and long established literary journal The Cincinnati Review. Their website focuses on selling books, not on recruiting authors. The books they have published so far are great and have wonderful covers.

Platypus Press

Platypus Press is a publisher of prose and poetry, all literary. They are a new publisher based out of the UK. Although now that they have been around two years they have established a track record and published a total of 13 books, most with excellent covers.

Persea Books

Persea Books is an independent book publisher based out of New York that was established in the 1970s. Since then they have gained a reputation for publishing thoughtful books in a variety of literary genres including literary fiction.

Seven Stories Press

Seven Stories Press is an independent publisher that has been around for twenty years. They have published a number of highly respected books. Their books are distributed by Random House.

8th House Publishing

8th House Publishing is a newer publisher based out of Montreal and New York. They publish poetry, novels with a literary bent, and nonfiction.seem to put a fair amount of effort into promoting their author’s work through launches, readings, and links to additional publications. They also seem to be very good at getting prestigious authors to provide blurbs for their books. Their covers tend to be well designed and aesthetically pleasing.

aunt lute

aunt lute is a multicultural women’s press. Their priority is to publish work by women, both transgender and cisgender, particularly women of color. They publish both fiction and nonfiction. They also publish poetry but only as part of an anthology or a larger prose work. They were founded in 1982.

Absey & Company

Absey & Company is currently looking for full length manuscripts to publish. Absey & Company has published many award winning books in the last decade. They are an established small press that publishes full length works of poetry and prose. They are a print publisher that has yet to venture into e-books. They publish work for children, teens, and adults. They are interested in publishing literary works of fiction, poetry, and language arts.

Soho Press

Soho Press is an established and respected literary independent publisher based out of New York. They also have two imprints, Soho Crime and Soho Teen, neither of which are open to unagented submissions at this time. Soho Press is open to unsolicited submissions of literary fiction. They focus on publishing bold voices and original perspectives. To learn more about what they have published in the past, their catalog is a good place to start.

Tramp Press

Tramp is a literary press based out of Ireland that has great distribution. Within Ireland they are distributed by Gill & Macmillan. Throughout the rest of the world they are distributed by Macmillan.

Wundor Editons

Wundor Editions is a UK-based publisher that accepts poetry, fiction, and photography. The fiction they publish is all literary, but they consider innovative genre work literary. They are best known for their city guides (which they are not open to submissions for). Their covers are impressive and they seem to have good distribution.

Skylight Press

Skylight Press is a small, UK-based publisher. They publish 12 books every year. They publish serious esoteric and occult books (focusing on things like paganism, and Arthurian/Grail traditions), as well as literary fiction, and nonfiction with a history or horticultural focus. They also consider literary analysis, although they do not publish much of it. They publish poetry but are currently not open to poetry submissions.

Fireside Fiction

Fireside Fiction is the publisher of novels and novellas as well as a popular and respected magazine that we have reviewed previously as part of a larger article on speculative fiction. They usually have one open reading period a year, which they announce on their website. So it is important to submit during this time.

Belle Lutte Press

Belle Lutte Press is a small press with the motto “Let’s bring exceptionalism back to the masses”. They focus on publishing literary fiction. It is easy to get a feel for what they write by reading one of the books they previously published.

Dr Cicero Books

Dr Cicero Books is a small press that publishes literary fiction and poetry. They are distributed by Small Press Distribution. Some of the books have great covers, others not so much. The website is visually appealing but it is a little hard to navigate, because it doesn’t have an easy way to switch between pages.

Regal Crest Enterprises

Regal Crest Enterprises historically specialized in publishing books of interest to lesbian readers but now their focus has expanded to include gay readers. They mostly publish popular fiction and literary fiction, but they have also published short stories, essays, and anthologies.

Bellevue Literary Press

Bellevue Literary Press publishes works of narrative nonfiction and literary fiction geared towards a general readership. They are open to unsolicited submissions of both kinds of work. The work they publish explores the intersection between arts and science. Many of the characters in the fictional work that they publish are doctors and scientists, but many of their books also focus on the natural world. They seem to publish about four novels for every work of nonfiction they publish.

Harvard Square Editions

Harvard Square Editions is a publishing company founded by a group of Harvard Alumni. They accept novel and novella submissions with environmental and social themes. HSE seeks work of the highest literary quality.

Douglas & McIntyre

Douglas & McIntyre is one of Canada’s pre-eminent independent publishers, with books that have won many national and international awards, including the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award. They filed for bankruptcy a number of years ago. Harbour Publishing purchased Douglas & McIntyre at that point.

 

Emily Harstone is the pen name of an author whose work has been published internationally by a number of respected journals. She is a professional submissions adviser and spends much of her time researching manuscript publishers. You can follow her on Facebook here.

 

 

 

We Send You Publishers Seeking Submissions.

Sign up for our free e-magazine and we will send you reviews of publishers seeking short stories, poetry, essays, and books.

Plus get a free copy of our book, The Authors Publish Guide to Manuscript Submissions.

Enter Your Email Address: