Instead of listing big-name publishers you already know--that often accept only agented material--we'd like to introduce you to smaller publishers that look for quality fiction and will take chances on complete unknowns.
Keep in mind, though, that "small" does not mean "will accept anything." Although these presses publish only a handful of novels per year, they receive hundreds of queries a month. For them, choosing the right books to publish each year is vital: Editors are attempting to build a strong reputation for the press and publish prize-winning fiction. Your work must still be of the highest caliber to grab their attention.
Make a good first impression by following each publisher's submission guidelines to the letter. Most will not accept unsolicited manuscripts--query first. Include an SASE. Don't phone, e-mail or fax your query unless you're certain it's permitted. Visit the publisher's Web site and get acquainted with its catalog.
If you can win the acceptance of a small press, you may gain a close relationship with a publisher who'll treat you like family. Note: Publishers are listed in alphabetical order.
1. Black Heron Press(www.blackheronpress.com), P.O. Box 95676, Seattle WA 98145. Estab. 1984. Averages 4 fiction titles/year. Does not want to see fiction written for the mass market; known for literary fiction. Published The Lightbearer by Bonnie Cox, Somebody by Laurie Blauner and Moses in Sinai by Simone Zelitch. Query with the first 50 pages only. Responds in 3 months to queries.
2. Branden Books(www.branden.com), P.O. Box 812094, Wellesley MA 02482. Estab. 1967. Averages 5 fiction titles/year. Published I, Morgain by Harry Robbin, The Bell Keeper by Marilyn Seguin and The Straw Obelisk by Adolph Caso. Query only with SASE. Responds in 1 week to queries.
3. Coffee House Press(www.coffeehousepress.org), 27 N. 4th St., #400, Minneapolis MN 55401. Estab. 1984. Nonprofit publisher. Publishes 10 fiction titles/year. Published Miniatures by Norah Labiner, Bingo Under the Crucifix by Laurie Foos and The White Palazzo by Ellen Cooney. Query with SASE, publishing credits, outline and 20-30 pages. Responds in 4-6 weeks to queries, 4-6 months to mss.
4. Graywolf Press(www.graywolfpress.org), 2402 University Ave., Ste. 203, St. Paul MN 55114. Estab. 1974. Nonprofit publisher. Publishes 4-6 fiction titles/year. Published The House on Eccles Road by Judith Kitchen, Trespass by Grace Dane Mazur and Heart-Side Up by Barbara Dimmick. Query with SASE. Responds in 3 months.
5. Greycore Press(www.greycore.com), 2646 Prospect Rd., Pine Bush NY 12566. Fax: (845)744-8081. E-mail: joan123@frontier net.net. Estab. 1999. Publishes 2 fiction titles/year. Published The Water Thief by Robert Baldwin and Buddha Wept by Rocco Lo Bosco. Accepts queries by e-mail and fax. Include estimated word count and list of publishing credits.
6. Hawk Publishing Group (www.hawkpub.com), 6420 S. Richmond Ave., Tulsa OK 74136-1619. Estab. 1999. Publishes 4 fiction titles/year. Published Miss Spellbinder's Point of View by Edward Swift and The Code of Buddyhood by William Bernhardt. Send a short synopsis and bio, including prior publishing credits or relevant credentials, with the first 3 chapters. No replies unless interested.
7. Hill Street Press(www.hillstreetpress.com), 191 E. Broad St., #209, Athens GA 30601-2848. Estab. 1998. Publishes 5 fiction titles/year. Published Prime Leaf by Eugene Wall and The Worst Day of My Life So Far by M.A. Harper. Query with outline/synopsis and 3 sample chapters. Include estimated word count, brief bio, list of publishing credits and resume. Responds in 3 months to queries, 6 months to mss.
8. John Daniel & Co.(www.danielpublishing.com), P.O. Box 21922, Santa Barbara CA 93121. Estab. 1980. Averages 4 titles/year. Published The House on Q Street by Ann L. McLaughlin and Unplugged by Paul McComas. Query with SASE, a synopsis or outline and no more than 50 sample pages. Responds in 6-12 weeks.
9. Leapfrog Press(www.leapfrogpress.com), P.O. Box 1495, 95 Commercial St., Wellfleet MA 02667-1495. Estab. 1996. Averages 3-4 fiction titles/year. Published The Devil and Daniel Silverman by Theodore Roszak and Shadows and Elephants by Edward Hower. Query with SASE, a brief description of book and 2-4 sample chapters (40 pages). Accepts queries by e-mail. Responds in 3 months to queries, 6 months to mss.
10. Lost Horse Press(www.losthorsepress.org), 105 Lost Horse Lane, Sandpoint ID 83864. E-mail: email@example.com. Estab. 1998. Publishes 2 fiction titles/year. Published Tales of a Dalai Lama by Pierre Delattre. Accepts unsolicited mss. Submit complete ms with cover letter. Accepts queries by e-mail. Include brief bio and list of publishing credits. Send SASE for return of ms, or SASE for reply only. Responds in 3 months to queries and mss. Accepts submissions on disk.
11. Milkweed Editions(www.milkweed.org), 1011 Washington Ave. S., Ste. 300, Minneapolis MN 55415. Estab. 1980. Nonprofit publisher. Averages 15 total titles/year. Published Roofwalker by Susan Powers and Hell's Bottom, Colorado by Laura Pritchett. Send for guidelines first, then submit complete ms. Responds in 6 months.
12. Panther Creek Press(www.panthercreekpress.com), P.O. Box 130233, Panther Creek Station Spring TX 77393. Published St. Abient Run by Jeana Kendrick, Taking the Long Way Around the Barn by Eli Mayhew and The Caballeros of Ruby, Texas by Cynthia Leal Massey. Query with SASE.
13. The Permanent Press(www.thepermanentpress.com), 4170 Noyac Rd., Sag Harbor NY 11963. Estab. 1977. Averages 12 fiction titles/year. Published Lydia Cassat Reading the Morning Paper by Harriet Scott Chessman, Fresh Eggs by Rob Levandoski and The Foodtaster by Ugo DiFonte. Query with SASE, outline and no more than 2 chapters. Responds in 6 weeks to queries, 6 months to mss.
14. Puckerbrush Press, 76 Main St., Orono ME 04473. Tel: (207)866-4868. Estab. 1971. Averages 1-2 fiction titles/year. Published The Crow on the Spruce by C. Hall. Send SASE for guidelines. Accepts unsolicited mss. Submit complete ms with cover letter. Include a brief bio and a list of publishing credits. Responds in 2 weeks to queries, 2 months to mss. Accepts phone queries.
15. White Pine Press(www.whitepine.org), P.O. Box 236, Buffalo NY 14201. Estab. 1973. Nonprofit publisher. Averages 4 fiction titles/year. Published Empire Settings by David Schmahmann and Some Wine for Remembrance by Edmund Keeley. Submit a SASE, query letter, synopsis, several sample chapters, a brief bio note and a list of previous publications. Responds in 1 month to queries, 6 months to mss.
This article appeared in the March 2003 issue of Novel Writer.