Looking for places to submit your work? Here is a list of small presses that are currently accepting work to review. Before diving into that list, there is a little context about small presses and how to go about the process of submitting your work. You can also scroll to the end of the article to get to the list of 15 places that are open to your submissions.
Feel free to add a comment at the end if you know of more places that are also accepting submissions right now. The team at Elyssar Press would love to hear from you!
What Are Small Presses?
Small press, independent press, and indie publisher are often terms that are used interchangeably. Technically, small presses are publishing houses with annual sales below a certain number, that number being $50 million in the US.* They also likely publish fewer books per year than larger presses, usually less than 10 books per year or so. This distinguishes small presses from the giant publishing houses that control a lot of the market, roughly 80% of the market in America, for example.**
Small presses are one key part of keeping the literary scene inclusive, diverse, and vibrant since they offer more voices in the selection process of what gets published. For more on the importance of small presses, check out Why American Literature Needs Small Presses, published in The Atlantic by Nathan Scott McNamara.
Small Presses can also be called independent presses when they are not tied to a larger publishing house, such as Penguin or Random House; however, there is some discrepancy here. Some independent presses do not call themselves small presses but call themselves independent presses, usually producing more books per year than small presses, but not always. It’s a bit of a grey area. Some presses also operate as part of a nonprofit, to help cover basic costs since they do not have the funding and profits that the Big 5 publishing houses often have.
Some famous small presses you may be familiar with are Graywolf Press, Milkweed Editions, Coffee House Press, and Tin House.
15 Small Presses Accepting Submissions Right Now
So you are ready to submit your work! Be sure to do some basic research on the press before you hit “send” on anything and that your work is in its final form. Lots of presses will not accept an “updated version” of your manuscript; for example, if one month after submitting, you want them to consider the newer version, many places will not.
Basic research here can mean a few things. Do you know if the press accepts work from your genre? Does your work align with the general goals or mission of the press? Does the press accept simultaneous submissions? This will help you narrow your final choices down and target presses that are better potential matches for publishing your work. If you don’t know where to start on this research, you can start by exploring each press’s “About” page and seeing the works that they have published thus far.
Please add any other tips for submissions to the comments below!
And now, the 15 small presses currently open for submissions:
- 3: A Taos Press – This publishing press looks to “[…] writers of all cultures.” There is no reading fee, however, it is encouraged to have an agent. You can learn more about their submissions process on their website as well as see manuscripts they have published thus far. The editors are currently looking for poetry manuscripts at this time.
- Assure Press – Assure Press publishes poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Simultaneous submissions are encouraged. According to their website, this press is about connecting, “[…] authors and artists with the world through inspirational and enlightening poetry, non-fiction, motivational, and educational literature.” Learn more about their submissions process here.
- Backbone Press – Since 2012, Backbone Press has been looking “to publish and support writers of color.” Their press was started as a response to the lack of diversity within publishing and the idea that “every voice is essential.” They are rarely open for manuscripts outside of their contests. March 5th, 2021 is the last day for their chapbook competition! You can review their submissions process here.
- Digitus Indie Publishers – This press is accepting submissions from now through July 31st, 2021. The upcoming issue is called Contrapuntos IX and accepted languages for publication are English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Galician. Academic articles, poetry, creative essays, and photography are welcome. You can view their submissions requirements here.
- Elyssar Press – Article update: As of April 2021, Elyssar Press has paused submissions after receiving a large amount of manuscripts. Please check back with us in the fall of 2021, when we open submissions again! At that point, you can submit your original manuscript for review, and we will get back to you within 2 months. Elyssar Press focuses on poetry, short stories, biographies, and art. We currently publish in English, Spanish, French (in paper and ebook format), and Arabic in ebook format. To learn more, please review our submissions process.
- Foglifter Journal – This publication offers “[…] a space where queer and trans writers celebrate, mourn, rage, and embrace.” While Foglifter Press is not currently accepting manuscripts right now, their literary journal is! Cover art is accepted year-round. Learn more about their submission process here for their fall issue.
- Galileo Press – Keep this nonprofit book publisher that was funded in 1979 on your list if you have novellas, short story collections, and more. While their submissions are currently closed for full manuscripts, their literary magazine is still open and publishes two issues a year. Learn more about their submissions.
- Heyday Books – In their own words, “Heyday is an independent, nonprofit publisher with a focus on California and the American West.” Their focus is on “[…] nonfiction books that explore history, celebrate Native cultural renewal, fight injustice, and honor nature.” You can learn more about their submissions process here.
- Jacar Press – Whether you have a poem for their online magazine or a manuscript for an upcoming chapbook, you might want to consider this small press. Their full-length and chapbook submissions are open until April 30th, 2021. There is an entry fee. You do not need an agent to submit. Learn more here.
- Lavendar Ink / Diálogos – Poetry, fiction, cultural criticism (including translation), and nonfiction are welcome at this press. They prefer your query to include “the entire manuscript plus a cover letter with project description and CV.” For a sense of their publications, check out their online shop. You can learn more here.
- Paloma Press – Based in the Bay Area, this press is an “[…] independent literary press publishing poetry, prose, and limited edition books.” Like any small press, it is recommended to review their previously published titles and see if your work would be a good fit. Please review their submissions requirements before submitting your work.
- Somos en Escrito – Writers with an indigenous-Hispanic background are encouraged to submit their work right now to Somos en Escrito! According to their website, this publication, “[…] invites U.S. American writers of Chicano, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban and other Hispanic origin, to submit manuscripts […]” at this time. To learn more, check out their submission process.
- Tolsun Books – This small press invites you to judge their books by their covers, because their covers are fantastic. They are looking for manuscripts to publish in 2022. Short story collections, poetry, essay collections, translations, and hybrid works. Their submissions period is open March 1st through May 31st. Learn about how to submit here.
- Unicorn Press – This press focuses on chapbooks and poetry collections. They have two open reading periods: the fall reading period between October 1st and December 31st, and the spring period between April 1st and to June 30th. Learn more about how to submit here.
- University of Iowa Press – The month of April is the time to submit for their Iowa Poetry Prize that publishes a full-length manuscript. Proposals for academic works often require a CV, project description, and contact information, and these proposals are open year-round. Click here to learn more.
What are you waiting for? Send your manuscripts in! This is an open call. Let us know in the comments if you have other presses, or share this article with a fellow writer who is hoping to submit their work.
*Wikipedia, Small Press, article available here.
**Nathan Scott McNamara, American Literature Needs Small Presses, article available here.