27 Publishers with Excellent Distribution That Accept Unsolicited Submissions

Written by Emily Harstone

All of the publishers on this list sell many copies of physical books. All of them have books that are available not just at stores near you, but at libraries as well, because they have good distributors.

If you want your novel or book to have a good chance of being placed on bookshelves and you don’t have an agent, the following publishers are all good options. All of them publish print books (with digital options) and all of them have a good distribution system.

Not all of the publishers are open to submissions or queries at all times, but most are. This list is in no particular order.

Quirk Books

This Philadelphia based press publishes just 25 books a year in a whole range of genres, from children’s books to nonfiction to science fiction. Unlike most publishers that tackle a large range of topics, Quirk Books has a clear marketing plan and to a certain degree their books have a cohesive feel, because they all are quirky.

Gibbs Smith

Gibbs Smith is an established publisher with good distribution and a focus on cook books, interior design and architecture books, and board books for children. They have published a number of bestsellers, including a board book version of Pride & Prejudice.

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.

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. They have published authors such as Marion Zimmer Bradley and Roger Zelazny, as well as many bestselling books and Hugo award winning books. They are respected and popular.

Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company

Founded in 1911 and located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company is an independent publisher of religious books. They have a large range, including academic books and reference works in theology, biblical studies, and religious history to popular titles in spirituality, social and cultural criticism, as well as literature. They are primarily a print publisher with excellent distribution. My local independent bookstore regularly carries a number of their titles.

Holiday House

Holiday House is an established and reputable children’s book publisher. Holiday House has been around for over 75 years. They publish picture books and books aimed at children in grades 1-3, grades 4-6, and grades 7 and up. They are based out of New York City. They have published many well known books and authors, including Kenneth Grahame. The books that they have published have won numerous respected awards and honors.

Charlesbridge

Charlesbridge publishes high quality books for children and young adults with the goal of creating lifelong readers and lifelong learners. In 2010 Charlesbridge acquired Imagine Publishing, which expanded what they were able to offer. They now have extensive audio offerings. They also publish adult nonfiction, cookbooks, and puzzle books.

Chronicle Books

Chronicle Books is a reputable publishing house that publishes many wonderful books, including a wide range of gift books, children’s books, and adult non-fiction.

Free Spirit Publishing

Free Spirit Publishing is an established publisher with good distribution. They publish primarily nonfiction, mostly curriculum based books, where they have a number of niche focuses.

They do publish fiction but only in the form of board books (aimed at infants to 4-year-olds) and picture books (for ages 4 to 8) that focus on social skills and getting along, early learning, character education, self-esteem, and other topics related to positive early childhood development.

Baen

Baen is one of the best known publishers of science fiction and fantasy books. They have published many of the classic genre novels. They have excellent distribution, their books are found in libraries and bookstores everywhere.

Chicago Review Press

Chicago Review Press was founded over 40 years ago.  They are an established independent publisher of literary fiction, nonfiction and memoir. They also publish books for children (but not picture books). They were founded by Curt Matthews and his wife, Linda Matthews. They are only open to unsolicited works of nonfiction.

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. They offer advances. They are currently closed to general submissions due to COVID-19 but have been regularly opening special calls for submissions on specific topics, so the site is still worth checking.

Prometheus Books

Prometheus Books is a large established publisher of what they like to call “intelligent non-fiction.” They specialize in publishing nonfiction books that fall into the following categories: popular science, philosophy, atheism, humanism, and critical thinking. They are distributed by Random House.

Hard Case Crime

Hard Case Crime is a well respected and established niche publisher of hard boiled crime novels. The publisher has been featured in a number of respected publications including Time Magazine and The Stranger. They are distributed by Random House.

Dalkey Archive Press

Dalkey Archive Press specializes in the publication and re-publication of avant-garde works of literary fiction. They are not interested in traditional prose or poetry, their focus is on publishing literary fiction of a modernist or post modernist bent. The National Book Critics Circle has awarded many of their authors and translators over the years, and in 2011, the Press itself was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the NBCC.

Skyhorse Publishing

Skyhorse Publishing is one of the largest small presses in the United States. They were founded in 2006. Over the past couple of years they have started to acquire other small presses. Skyhorse started out focused on publishing nonfiction and that is still their primary interest.

Skypony Publishing

Skypony is the division of Skyhorse that focuses on publishing work for children, they are also open to publishing Young Adult work as long as it intersects with other areas of interest for the publisher such as ecology, farm living, wilderness living, recycling, and other “green” topics. They are currently open to submissions of picture books, books aimed at early readers, young adult novels with a “green” focus, midgrade novels, and informational books for children and young adults.

Workman Publishing

Workman Publishing is a large independent publishing company that now includes a number of separate imprints (most started out as their own companies and were purchased by Workman). The imprints include large established companies like Algonquin Books (which is no longer open to unaganted submissions). The original Workman imprint is open to unagented submissions. They focus on publishing exclusively nonfiction books for children and adults, as well as calendars. They do not accept unsolicited picture book submissions.

Artisan Books

Artisan focuses on publishing visual-heavy nonfiction books. The visuals themselves vary between photography, illustration, or graphic design, but the idea is that these books communicate ideas and lessons because of their strong visual components. Most of the books, including Artisan’s first bestseller The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller, include all three components.

The Quarto Publishing Group

The Quarto Publishing Group is an international publishing house known for its illustrated books. They publish most of their work through a number of niche imprints each with their own focus. All of their US imprints are distributed by Hachette.

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. McSweeney’s was founded in 1998 by Dave Eggers. They originally started out publishing a literary magazine, and now they are responsible for a number of publications, online and off, as well as podcasts, and books. They are based out of San Francisco.

Ig Publishing

Ig Publishing is a New York based small press that focuses on publishing literary fiction and progressive political nonfiction. The books they’ve published have won or been honorable mentions for many major awards, and are frequently mentioned on “best of” year end lists.

Text Publishing

Text Publishing in an Australian press that has published a wide variety of best sellers. They have won the Small Publisher of the Year award three times. You can get a feel for what they publish here. One of their biggest hits in recent years is the internationally bestselling novel The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion (the first in a series of Rosie novels).

Bellevue Literary Press

Bellevue Literary Press publishes works of narrative nonfiction and literary fiction geared towards a general readership. They are generally open to unsolicited submissions of both kinds of work, but are temporarily closed due to COVID-19. 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.

Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Jessica Kingsley Publishers (JKP) is an established UK Press (with a US office) that was purchased by John Murray Press/Hachette UK in 2017. You can read more about this acquisition here. JKP focuses on publishing high quality books for professional and general readers on a variety of subjects.

Beacon Press

Beacon Press is an established publisher of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. However they are only open to direct submissions of nonfiction proposals. Works of fiction, poetry, and self help, will not be considered.

Page Street Publishing

Page Street Publishing is a publisher of full color, mostly hardcover, gift books, cookbooks, and craft books. Most of them have an important visual component. They are distributed through Macmillan in every country but Canada (where they have a different distributor). They publish around sixty titles a year.


Emily Harstone is the author of many popular books, including The Authors Publish Guide to Manuscript SubmissionsSubmit, Publish, Repeat, and The 2020 Guide to Manuscript Publishers.

She regularly teaches three acclaimed courses on writing and publishing at The Writer’s Workshop at Authors Publish.

You can follow her on Facebook here.


 

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