50+ Publishing Companies for Traditional & Self-Publishing written on blue background, with Kindle showing "An Essential Guide for Writers"
Blog On Writing

50+ Publishing Companies for Traditional & Self-Publishing: A Guide for Writers

50+ Publishing Companies for Traditional & Self-Publishing includes a list of top-notch book publishers and shares insight on how to get what you want out of the publishing process.

50+ Publishing Companies for Traditional & Self-Publishing: A Guide for Writers

by Joe Walters

Writers, it’s about that time.

You’ve done the work. You’ve written, you’ve revised, revised again, gotten beta readers, implemented their feedback, edited, edited again, polished, and now you’re feeling confident that your book is pretty damn good. 

First of all, hell yeah.

Second of all, where do you go from here?

It’s easier to publish a book in 2023 than it has ever been. But that doesn’t mean you should necessarily take the easy route. Sometimes it could be the best decision; sometimes it could be the worst. Take your time and choose with confidence (and maybe a little guidance from me). This post includes info & tips for writers looking to publish with an indie press, to self-publish, or to publish with a major publisher.

Here’s an essential guide to publishing companies (with 50+ publishers included).

Indie presses

I’ve never shouted, “I love indie presses!” from the rooftops, but that’s only because I don’t like rooftops.

Independent presses run the full gamut—large, small, niche, broad, great, not-so-great, you name it. There are a lot of people out there who love books enough to publish them. An indie press can be a side-gig for a book lover or it can be a million-dollar business for a CEO with major connections and funding. 

Indie presses are important to book publishing. So many books in your local bookstore come from the same five publishers and their imprints–more on this in part 3!–but traditional indie presses expand the horizon of books and ideas. Many of these presses take risks on books they believe should be published even if they don’t fit a common model like salability and neat genre fits. I salute them (and review them) as often as I can!

So how do you publish with an independent press?

That depends on the press! Some indies require agented submissions, while others you can submit without an agent. You just have to follow each specific press’s guidelines, write your best book, and cross your fingers.

My biggest recommendations for publishing with an indie press:

  • Actually read a couple books from the press. Not only do you want to find out if their vision matches that of your book’s, but you also want to see if it’s professionally formatted and something you’d be proud to share a shelf with.
  • Follow their submission guidelines exactly. They receive a lot of queries, and you don’t want to miss your chance at the very beginning.
  • Google them & their books to find out any book publicity they’ve received. You want to see what kind of coverage your book could get.
  • Make your book as good as it can be ten times over. Many indie presses want to take books that can slide right into a publishing queue. Since they pay their editors on their own dime, it’s a lot less of an investment to take on a book that requires fewer editing-hours to complete.
  • Write and get feedback on a compelling query letter.
  • Some presses take breaks in their reading periods. Don’t submit outside of them, and if you think your book is the best fit for that press anyway, wait for them to re-open.
  • Many indie presses publish books across genres, but some ask for specific genres. Don’t submit if your book doesn’t fit.
  • Some publishers frame their submissions as contests or awards. This is fine! You may have to pay to submit, but it usually helps pay an advance to the winning author, something not every indie press does.
  • Actually like the look and applicability of their website! The online marketplace is an important one.
  • Research what they do to market their books. Do they run a regular newsletter? Are they active on social media? Do they get a lot of book reviews?
  • Ask their authors what their experience has been.
  • Try university presses! (Not included in list below)
  • Peruse more lists like on Duotrope, NewPages, P & W, and Bookfox.

45 Independent Presses We Love (Who Don’t Require Agents):

  1. Two Dollar Radio – Various fiction & nonfiction with a literary bent
  2. Split/Lip Press – Various fiction & nonfiction with a literary bent
  3. Thirty West Publishing – Various fiction & nonfiction; short books; poetry
  4. Malarkey Books – Various fiction & nonfiction; poetry
  5. Tortoise Books – Various fiction & nonfiction
  6. Dzanc Books – Literary fiction; historical fiction
  7. Regal House Publishing – Various fiction & nonfiction; MG
  8. Sunbury Press – Various fiction & nonfiction
  9. Black Lawrence Press – Various fiction & nonfiction with a literary bent; short books; poetry
  10. Forest Avenue Press – Various fiction & nonfiction with a literary bent
  11. Coffeehouse Press – Various fiction & nonfiction with a literary bent, poetry
  12. Sagging Meniscus Press – Various fiction & nonfiction; “nonconformist, aesthetically self-determined literature”
  13. Montag Press – Speculative; science; historical; horror; experimental fiction
  14. Copper Canyon Press – Poetry
  15. Lethe Press – LGBTQ+; Speculative
  16. Red Hen Press – Various fiction, nonfiction, and poetry
  17. Mason Jar Press – Various fiction, nonfiction, and poetry
  18. Lanternfish Press – Alternating genres & subgenres
  19. Chin Music Press – Various fiction, nonfiction, poetry, translation
  20. Meerkat Press – Speculative fiction with a literary bent
  21. Kernpunkt Press – Literary; creative nonfiction; historical; science fiction; poetry
  22. Joffe Books – Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
  23. Cozy Cat Press – Cozy mysteries
  24. Microcosm Publishing – Self-Help, DIY
  25. Autumn House Press – Literary fiction; creative nonfiction; short stories; poetry
  26. Hub City Press – Books about the American South
  27. Unsolicited Press – Various fiction, nonfiction, and poetry
  28. Sarabande Books – Poetry, short fiction, essay
  29. Bull City Press – Short books: poetry, short fiction, short memoir
  30. Belle Point Press – Various fiction & nonfiction, short fiction, poetry
  31. Alternating Current Press – Various fiction, nonfiction, and poetry
  32. CamCat Books – Various fiction, YA
  33. Unnerving Books – Horror, crime, mystery, dark fiction
  34. Encircle Publications – Mystery, Thriller & Suspense; Literary; Historical
  35. Levine Querido – Children’s; illustrated
  36. Erewhon Books – Speculative fiction
  37. Wipf & Stock Publishers – Nonfiction, fiction, poetry
  38. Woodhall Press – Various fiction, nonfiction, and poetry
  39. BOA Editions – Various fiction & nonfiction with a literary bent; short stories; poetry; translation
  40. Creature Publishing – Horror, Feminist
  41. AWST Press – Literary fiction & creative nonfiction
  42. Vine Leaves Press – Various fiction & nonfiction with a literary bent; writing/publishing reference
  43. June Road Press – Poetry
  44. Chicago Review Press – Various fiction & nonfiction
  45. Unnamed Press – Various fiction, nonfiction, and poetry

Want to know what people would say about your book if it was published today? Try group beta reading!

self-publishing companies for ibr

Self-publishing is the right route for some people. There’s no getting around the fact that you get complete creative control AND a considerably higher royalty percentage than publishing with a press. You can publish that thing today if you wanted to, or you can transparently use it as a business tool to funnel clients straight into your business. 

You know what that means? More money!

But you know what it also means? More competition & less free help!

But before we get anywhere, it’s imperative that you recognize which part of the publishing process you are skipping: The gatekeeper.

An agent receives thousands of queries. Publishers do too. They choose only a select number of them per year—could be two, could be twelve, could be two hundred. It depends on what that particular person or organization is planning to do with their business. 

They choose only the books that they think will: sell, get acclaim, move readers emotionally, get optioned into a movie, or some other business-specific reason.

By skipping this gatekeeper step, you are not putting your book to the test in the market. I want you to have a published book too, but sometimes that book isn’t ready. You publish it early, and some readers don’t love it. Some might even find things hurtful inside it. That’s a big reason why beta reading and getting feedback is so important. Test the market. Take your time. Make that thing shine before publishing.

And if you do go the self-publishing route, make sure you read up on book marketing! Taking an honest look at what you’re up against—like the amount of actual work hours it’ll take to market—will help you decide if self-publishing companies are the right decision for you.

Self-Publish Your Book with Popular Publishing Companies:

  1. Amazon KDP
  2. Ingram Spark
  3. Barnes & Noble Press
  4. Draft 2 Digital
  5. Lulu

In addition to doing it all yourself, you can self-publish with a vanity or hybrid press.

A vanity press is one that you can pay to publish your book for you. They do the dirty work like uploading, designing, and accounting. Depending on whichever services they offer in your contract, they may also provide developmental editing, copy editing, proofreading, cover design or illustration, and marketing. 

A hybrid press is a press that either A) requires some money to publish your book, but will front other costs; B) Doesn’t publish every book that is submitted to them; or C) a press that publishes some books on their own dime and other books by being funded by the author.

Some vanity or hybrid presses are awesome to work with. They care about their authors, provide great customer service, and are upfront about their fees and requirements. Others are not as awesome. Some have poor or nonexistent customer service and mislead authors to expect the brightest lights in exchange for more money. 

Some questions to ask your vanity or hybrid press:

  • How much is the basic service and what specifically does it entail?
  • What does the upgraded service include specifically? 
  • Do you charge me when I need to make changes to my book or my book listing?
  • How often are you available for marketing help and guidance?
  • How many book cover mock-ups does your designer provide?
  • Does the basic service include developmental editing, copy editing, and proofreading?
  • Are there any yearly fees?
  • Can I get freelance services elsewhere and still use your company to publish?
  • How long will it take to edit, design, and publish the book?
  • Can you show me some books in a similar genre that you’ve published?
  • Can you share any other authors’ contact information so I can ask their opinion of your company?

Don’t be afraid to say no to hybrid or vanity publishing companies. There are others out there. 

Here are some of our favorite indie books of 2022.

all about publishing with the big five publishing companies

The big five publishers—listed below—publish many of the top-selling books of a given year. These books appear on reading lists, major media outlets, celebrity book clubs, and bookstores all over the world. They have many imprints and have published a ton of books for a long time. They are a sort of 1%, except they’re probably more visible than that.

As an author, these things probably sound great to you. If you want to get an advance and get financial backing for your book, publishing with a big five publisher is something you probably want to try.

But wait! 

In order to publish with them, you have to find a literary agent to represent you. Then they have to successfully convince a publishing house to publish your book. This is not easy.

Authors spend years perfecting their craft, making connections, publishing short form works in recognizable outlets, getting grants, increasing their social media following, and beyond in order to impress agents and publishers to increase their chances. But again, this doesn’t guarantee anything.

Yet again, some authors don’t take years. Some take one incredible story to blow the doors off, get signed, and get published. 

Lesson of the day: Write the best book you can. Pitch agents strategically. And write more books.

Parting words

Publishing a book is complicated. Choosing the right path, pursuing it at the right time, dealing with the repercussions of your choices: It’s all stressful but only because you care so much.

Take your time, publish the best book you can, and keep writing. That’s what it’s all about anyway, isn’t it?

What is the most important thing you need from from publishing companies? Let me know in the comments below!

About the Author

Joe Walters IBR founder

Joe Walters is the founder and editor-in-chief of Independent Book Review, and he has been a book marketer for Sunbury Press, Inkwater Press, and Paper Raven Books. When he’s not doing editorial, promoting, or reviewing work, he’s working on his novel and trusting the process. Find him @joewalters13 on Twitter.

Thank you for reading 50+ Publishing Companies for Traditional & Self-Publishing: A Guide for Writers by Joe Walters! If you liked what you read, please spend some more time with us at the links below.

0 comments on “50+ Publishing Companies for Traditional & Self-Publishing: A Guide for Writers

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: