Tuesday, September 5, 2017

8 Literary Fiction Publishers Accepting Unagented Manuscripts

Image by Kathy Buckalew
Updated 8/17/20

Here are eight publishers looking for literary fiction - no agent needed.

Make sure to read the submission requirements on the publishers' websites before submitting. (Submission guidelines for publishing houses are not the same as queries to agents.)

The difference between commercial and literary fiction can be subtle. In general, commercial fiction is formulaic, whereas literary fiction tends to experiment with form and style. Commercial fiction falls into genres - science fiction, chick lit, romance, etc. - whereas literary fiction may cross or blend genres, or depart from them entirely. Literary fiction also places greater value on the craft of writing, which is not to say that genre fiction can't be well written, but in the case of literary fiction, the writing is front and center.

NOTE: You can find more than 150 publishers accepting unagented submissions - broken down by genre - here: Publishers Accepting Unagented Manuscripts
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8th House Publishing

8th House Publishing is a small company based in Montreal and New York. They publish poetry, literary novels, philosophy, and other "earnest work." Their list consists of 34 books by 26 authors.

Submissions: "What we like at 8th House: modern, radical, enduring, insightful, inventive... Whether it's an essay, a philosophy tract, or a novel, a book of verse." Send a sample of your work (2 or 3 chapters and a full table of contents) along with a query letter to : submissions@8thHousePublishing.com

Arsenal Pulp Press 

Arsenal Pulp Press is a book publisher in Vancouver, Canada with over 400 titles currently in print, which include literary fiction and nonfiction; books on social issues; gender studies; LGBTQ and diverse literature; graphic novels and non-fiction; cookbooks; alternative crafts; youth culture and young adult literature; visual arts; and books in translation. "We are interested in literature that engages and challenges readers, and which asks probing questions about the world around us."

Read submission guidelines hereSnail mail submissions only.

BlazeVOX

BlazeVOX is an independent publisher based in Buffalo, New York in 2000. Blaze has published more than 350 books of poetry and prose, most of which fall within the sphere of avant-garde literature. BlazeVOX aims to "disseminate poetry, through print and digital media, both within academic spheres and to society at large," and to "push at the frontiers of what is possible." They publish works "regardless of commercial viability."

Submissions: Send the manuscript to editor@blazevox.org as an attachment in either a Microsoft Word doc, RTF, or even a PDF is fine. Blaze does not pay advances or arrange for book tours. Authors should be prepared to do marketing. Royalties are 10%.
Cedar Fort
Cedar Fort is an established house that publishes over 120 books a year. Their books are available nationally through major distribution companies including Ingram Content Group, Baker & Taylor, and ReaderLink as well as through major retail corporations like Deseret Book, Seagull Book, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sam’s Club, and Indigo in Canada. Cedar Fort is active in selling foreign language rights, and they attend the Frankfurt Book Fair every year to present their frontlist titles internationally.

Submissions: Cedar Fort accepts all manuscript submissions through Submittable. "Your submission is reviewed not just for its content, but as a business venture to which the publisher contributes significant capital investment. Your ability to actively support the promotion of your work and brand in the market is an important consideration during the process. Please include any audience or following you have built for your name or brand and on what platforms, if applicable." 
City Lights Publishers
City Lights Publishers has launched several famous poets, including Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg, but this press also specializes in "cutting edge" literary fiction and nonfiction. City Lights publishes 12 books a year and has over 200 books in print. They do not publish children's literature or genre works such as romance, westerns, or science fiction.

Submissions: Submit a proposal only via snail mail. (See details on the site.)

Manic D Press

Manic D Press is an American literary press based in San Francisco, California publishing fiction novels and short stories, poetry, and graphic novels. It was founded by Jennifer Joseph in 1984 as an alternative outlet for young writers seeking to bring their work into print. Manic D Press books are distributed throughout the US by Consortium, Last Gasp, and wholesalers including Ingram and Baker & Taylor; in the UK and EU by Turnaround PSL; in Canada by Publishers Group Canada; and throughout the world by Perseus.

How to submit: Email submissions are preferred. Printed manuscripts are read twice a year, during the months of January and July ONLY. Simultaneous submissions are allowed, just let them know if your work has been accepted elsewhere or if (and where) it has been previously published. Read full guidelines HERE.

Persea Books
Persea Books is an independent, literary publishing house founded in 1975 by Michael Braziller and Karen Braziller, who still own and direct the company. Genres: Poetry, fiction, essays, memoir, biography, titles of Jewish and Middle Eastern interest, women's studies, American Indian folklore, and YA. Response time: Eight weeks for proposals and 12 weeks for requested manuscript. Submissions: Queries should include a cover letter, author background and publication history, a synopsis of the proposed work, and a sample chapter. Send queries and manuscripts to info@perseabooks.com or to the appropriate editor (Fiction or Nonfiction), Persea Books, 277 Broadway, Suite 708, New York, NY 10007.

Submissions: Read their submission guidelines here.

Soho Press

Soho Press publishes literary fiction. Soho Press is an independent book publisher based in Manhattan’s Union Square. Founded in 1986, Soho publishes 90 books a year across its Soho Press, Soho Crime and Soho Teen lists, and is known for introducing bold literary voices, award-winning international crime fiction, and groundbreaking young adult fiction. "In general, we are interested in bold voices and original ways of seeing the world." Their titles are distributed through Random House. Snail mail submissions only. 

Read their submission guidelines hereSubmissions for literary fiction will re-open in 2020.

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