30 Book Publishing Companies For Authors Without Agents

Book Publishing Companies That Don't Require An Agent Featured Image

Ten years ago, you never would have dreamed of getting your book traditionally published without an agent. But these days, the sky's the limit for authors.

The pros and cons of traditional vs. self-publishing have been hashed out a number of times.

So you know even though there are plenty of pros to self-publishing a book, there’s something validating about writing a book that’s so good a publishing company wants to claim and sell it as one of their own. Maybe you’re one of the many writers who'd like to have a book published through the traditional route, or you're looking to branch out and try it alongside independent publishing.

You’re not alone.

If you’ve ever considered seeking publishing companies to take a look at one of your books, you could find a literary agent, or there are plenty of legitimate publishing companies that accept proposals from authors without agents too!

Who knew?

In this article, you will learn:

  • What the deal is with literary agents and why you might not need one
  • 30 of the best book publishing companies we found that accept proposals directly from new authors–no agent needed
  • How you can get noticed by publishers and editors
  • How to spot “vanity presses” and make smart publishing decisions

Caveat: As you all know, I've never traditionally published.  So I want to be upfront and let you know that the below is purely research-based and does not imply that I have used the below publishers. You can search for publishers and agents on websites like QueryTracker.netWritersMarket.com, or PublishersArchive.com.

Traditional Publishing & Literary Agents–What’s The Deal?

When you think of traditional publishers, the Big 5 might be your first thought:

  1. Hachette Book Group
  2. HarperCollins
  3. Macmillan Publishers
  4. Penguin Random House
  5. Simon and Schuster

These are the big dogs — the Holy Grail of publishing accolades and prestige.

These companies are extremely selective and will only accept proposals through an agent. In order for the slightest hope that big publishing houses will show interest, fiction authors must have impressive writing skills and their work must fit the commercial mold of genre fiction, while nonfiction authors must have a compelling hook, a marketable idea, and a substantial author platform.

If you think your work is Big 5 material, you have to find an agent who’s interested in your book. They (if they’re any good) will help you make your book even better, then work their tail off to find you a great deal. They’re a lot like a business manager, and they can contact otherwise unreachable editors and negotiate all the important contract details on your behalf–but it's not all roses.

The Cons of Using an Agent

First, you have to do a ton of research on each agent before you contact them. The internet is full of scammers looking to prey on someone desperate for a book deal, or amateurs who will be a waste of your time (and possibly money) because they call themselves “agents” but don't really know what they're doing.

Then, after you do careful research to find a legitimate agent, the next step is finding one who thinks you have an amazing book. Even then, there's no guarantee of a publishing contract. Just like authors, agents typically get a number of rejections before they find a publisher who shows interest in your book.

If they do get your book accepted by a publisher and get you an advance for your book sales, it comes at a cost–15% of all your earnings.

So if you aren't set on getting published by a company that REQUIRES an agent, a better option might be getting published without an agent. There are tons of reputable medium and small publishing companies out there, and more and more publishers are loosening their grip on the reins to allow un-agented authors to contact them directly–cutting out the middleman. Even big companies dabble with submission periods of bypassing literary agents to find talented writers.

Although small publishing houses don't have the same clout with retailers or the same resources for marketing and publicity, most still have talented editors, designers, and passionate professionals for publishing great books.

One of the book publishing companies on our list is even an imprint of Penguin Random House, and yes, they accept contacts from authors directly. Plus, here's an example of a brand new author who got a contract with Baen Books, another publisher on our list, and his novel has great reviews on Amazon.

Publishers To Consider (Even If You're a New Author)

Below is a list of 30 book publishing companies that authors can contact directly. For each publishing house, you'll find:

  • A link to their website
  • What they publish
  • Any significant notes about their publishing history
  • A link to their submissions guidelines for authors
  • Whether they accept proposals via snail mail, electronically, or both
  • The estimated response time (if it was given on their site)
  • A link to their catalog of previously published books, and
  • Location of the publisher

When you find one that sounds interesting or like it might be a fit for your goals as an author, bookmark it. This could bring you one step closer to becoming a (traditionally) published author.

Note: Be sure to check each of the publishing companies' websites and submission requirements carefully. You'll make a great first impression by applying only to those publishing houses that carry books like yours.

30 Book Publishing Companies That Accept Proposals Directly From Authors

1. Sterling Publishing

  • They publish a massive variety of adult, young adult, and children’s books
  • They have over 60 years in business and over 5,000 titles in print
  • They have several imprints, including one for food, wine, and spirits; another for body, mind & spirit; another for crafting, decorating, and outdoor living; yet another for puzzles and games.
  • For children’s books, they publish both fiction and nonfiction. They even have an imprint that publishes workbooks and flashcards for students in preschool through middle school.
  • Submission guidelines
  • They accept submissions from authors through mail.
  • It sounds like they respond to all submissions via mail or phone within several months.
  • Browse their catalogs here
  • New York, New York

2. DAW

  • Publish science fiction and fantasy
  • A respected and popular publishing company, and an imprint of Penguin.
  • Submission guidelines
  • They only accept snail mail submissions and full-length novels of at least 80,000 words. They do not accept short stories or novellas.
  • They require submissions to be exclusive to them, however, if they take longer than three months to review your manuscript, then you can submit elsewhere
  • Browse their titles here
  • New York, New York

3. Chronicle Books

  • Children’s books and Adult trade (not adult fiction)
  • Their books are everywhere as they even have international retail stores
  • Submission guidelines
  • Different guidelines if you’re submitting children’s or adult trade, so follow carefully
  • Will only respond if interested in publishing
  • Browse their books here
  • San Francisco, California

4. Alloy Entertainment

  • Publish primarily women’s fiction, young adult, middle grade, and chapter books
  • Up to 12 partial or complete manuscripts per year
  • Connected to Warner Bros., so they try to create movies and television shows out of their books (e.g., Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and The Vampire Diaries)
  • Submission guidelines
  • Verify they are open to submissions, as they sometimes close their doors to unsolicited submissions
  • They try to respond within 6-8 weeks
  • Browse their book titles here
  • New York, New York

5. Baen

  • Science fiction and fantasy only
  • One of the most respected publishers of Science Fiction and Fantasy books, they are one of the few established publishers that will accept full-length manuscripts from authors without an agent
  • Submission guidelines here
  • Strongly prefer electronic submission through their submission form
  • Take longer than typical to hear back (9-12 months)
  • Website
  • Wake Forest, North Carolina

6. Flashlight Press

  • Publish children’s fiction picture books targeted to 4-8-year-olds
  • Their books are beautifully illustrated and they only publish 2-4 each year. Their company and individual books have won many awards. They distribute internationally.
  • Submission guidelines
  • They prefer submission through their AUTHORS.me platform or you can email
  • Books should be less than 1,000 words with a universal theme dealing with family or social situations and fit within their catalog of books
  • If interested, they will contact you within 3 months.
  • Brooklyn, New York

7. Skyhorse Publishing

  • One of the fastest-growing independent publishers in the U.S. with 15 imprints and a backlist of over 6,000 titles.
  • They publish pretty much everything, both fiction and nonfiction, adult, young adult, and children’s books.
  • They’ve had 43 titles on the New York Times bestseller list in the 10 years they’ve been publishing.
  • Submission guidelines
  • You’ll hear from them within 4-6 weeks if they are interested in seeing more of your manuscript.
  • You can browse their titles here
  • New York, New York

8. Free Spirit Publishing

  • Publish nonfiction books and learning materials for children, teens, parents, educators, counselors, and others who interact with young people
  • They produce 20-25 new titles per year and have a strong distribution through major trade and library distributors, in bookstores such as Barnes & Noble, on Amazon.com, and their widely distributed mail order catalog.
  • Submission guidelines
  • They are looking for nonfiction proposals in these categories: Teaching Strategies & Professional Development, Early Childhood, Gifted & Special Education, Bullying Prevention & Conflict Resolution, Character Education, Leadership & Service Learning, Educational Games, Posters, & Jars, and Counseling & Social-Emotional Learning (at the time of this writing)
  • They only accept proposals through mail.
  • Their response time is usually 2-6 months
  • Home page
  • Minneapolis, MN

9. Five Star

  • Open to Mystery and Western fiction submissions
  • Connected to large academic companies Gale and Cengage Learning
  • Without an agent or previous book published, will need to query a general editor (AssociateEditorTekno@shaw.ca) to get full submission guidelines. You should include your name, contact information, and genre. Submissions are accepted electronically only.
  • They will respond, but it may take some time
  • Their website was more difficult than most for authors seeking publishing companies, but they also have a Facebook page for more information
  • Website
  • Waterville, Maine

10. Adams Media

  • Publish just about everything. They have a wide selection of popular nonfiction books, including self-help, parenting, business, cooking, business, finance, relationships, and raising pets. They also publish crime, humor, lifestyle, memoirs, inspiration, and more.
  • One of the largest publishers that accepts book proposals from first-time authors and authors without agents
  • Submission guidelines
  • Can submit your book proposal through email or mail
  • Expect a response only if they are interested in publishing your work
  • You can explore their books here
  • Littlefield Street Avon, Massachusetts

11. Kensington Publishing Corp.

  • Known as “America’s Independent Publisher,” they have a bunch of imprints
  • Publish over 600 fiction and nonfiction titles each year, including a range of popular genres such as romance, women’s fiction, African American, young adult and nonfiction, true-crime, western, and mystery titles
  • Published some New York Times bestselling authors
  • Submission guidelines
  • You should review their editors’ interests and submit to the one you think is the best fit for your book
  • They will only respond if they are interested.
  • You can browse their book categories and titles here
  • New York, New York

12. Beacon Press

  • Publish serious nonfiction of deep fundamental issues, such as respect for diversity, religious pluralism, anti-racism, justice, equity, and compassion for all humans
  • At the time of this writing, they are not accepting self-help, new poetry, or fiction books
  • Submissions
  • They only accept electronic submissions.
  • They will contact you within 3 weeks if interested in seeing a full proposal after considering your query
  • Website
  • Boston, Massachusetts

13. Black Inc.

  • Publish a variety of fiction and nonfiction, but not poetry or children’s books
  • Submission guidelines
  • Open to submissions from Australian writers only and via email only
  • If they are interested in your manuscript, they will contact you within 8 weeks.
  • Explore their website
  • Carlton, Victoria, Australia

14. Persea Books

  • Fiction and nonfiction.
  • They accept literary novels, creative nonfiction, memoirs, essays, biographies, books on contemporary issues, anthologies, and limited poetry and young adult titles.
  • They do not publish genre fiction, self-help, textbooks, or children’s books
  • Submission guidelines
  • You should submit your submissions package through the mail
  • Browse their books here
  • New York, New York

15. BelleBooks/Bell Bridge

  • BelleBooks originated to publish Southern fiction before creating the substantial imprint Bell Bridge, which publishes a wide variety of genres
  • Publish everything from anthology to young adult, including children’s books, fantasy, nonfiction, romance, mystery, and women’s fiction.
  • Submission guidelines
  • This page includes to-the-point answers to questions like What do editors want? Why was your book rejected? And specific submission instructions, editor to contact, and word count by genre.
  • They do not accept simultaneous submissions unless you’re agented.
  • Typical response is 3-6 months
  • Browse their books
  • Memphis, Tennessee

16. Seven Stories Press

  • Publish fiction and nonfiction, and the occasional book of poetry
  • Books are distributed by Random House
  • Submission guidelines
  • You should submit the requested materials through mail only.
  • Check out their titles. You’ll notice their subjects include feminism, LGBTQ, environmentalism, human rights, and journalism.
  • New York, New York

17. Jollyfish Press

  • Publish a variety of commercial and literary fiction, fantasy, science fiction, mystery, thrillers, young adult, humor, romance, and women’s fiction.
  • A newer publisher started in 2012, was acquired by North Star Editions, Inc. in October 2016
  • Submission guidelines
  • Should submit through email only
  • Their About Us page tells what their editors are looking for, which can be helpful for authors seeking publication
  • Book titles
  • Provo, Utah

18. Oneworld Publishing

  • Nonfiction and literary fiction. Categories include self-help, biographies, religion, history, business, and more.
  • Approximately 100 books per year internationally.
  • Submission guidelines
  • They have a submission form for authors to download and complete
  • Make sure your book fits in with their previously published titles
  • London, United Kingdom

19. Black & White Publishing

  • Fiction and nonfiction, including women’s fiction (chick lit, saga, and romance), crime and psychological thrillers, contemporary YA and new adult crossovers, children’s fiction … and nonfiction: memoirs, sport (the UK and Ireland especially), humor, food and drink, and activity books
  • A leading independent Scottish publisher open to work by authors from UK, Ireland, and beyond
  • Submission guidelines
  • They prefer you use their online submission form, but they will accept mail
  • You should hear back within 3 months if they are interested
  • Book titles
  • United Kingdom

20. Angry Robot

  • A respected adult science fiction and fantasy publisher, who occasionally publishes horror too
  • British-based but has great distribution in the US, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK. Part of Watkins Media Ltd
  • Submission guidelines
  • They have “open door” periods periodically (like every 18 months or so) when they accept manuscripts from authors without agents. Check their website to find out if it’s currently an open door period
  • You can submit to them anytime if you have a literary agent or if you’ve been recommended to them by an author already on their list
  • Submissions are only accepted electronically
  • They prefer books targeted to adults rather than junior or young adults. You can browse their books here
  • United Kingdom

21. Evernight Publishing

  • They seek complete manuscripts between 8,000-100,000 words in sub-genres of romance, erotic romance, and limited urban fantasy.
  • Submission guidelines
  • Your submission should be exclusive to this publishing house
  • They will make a decision on your proposal within 12 weeks
  • Browse their website to see if yours fits
  • Canada

22. Felony & Mayhem

  • A print literary mystery fiction book publisher
  • Submission guidelines
  • They only accept electronic submissions, preferably in Word docs
  • Word count must be at least 75,000
  • They prefer mysteries with plots related to literature, philosophy, religion, academia, history, music, art, politics, food and wine, theatre, magic, anthropology, and settings outside the U.S.
  • Their book titles are here
  • New York, New York

23. Chicago Review Press

24. Regal Crest Titles

  • Several imprints that specialize in drama, romance, action-adventure/murder/mystery, nonfiction, young adult, poetry, science fiction, and fantasy/paranormal
  • Specialize in books of interest to lesbian and gay readers. Most of their work is popular fiction, but they have several other imprints and published works as well.
  • They have detailed submissions for fiction and nonfiction, which you should read carefully here: general submission guidelines, including unique guidelines for nonfiction and fiction
  • You should submit through email
  • Review their books
  • Maryville, Tennessee

25. Albert Whitman & Company

  • Children’s books from 0-15, from board books to young adult
  • Submission guidelines
  • Picture books, middle-grade fiction, and young adult fiction each have their own submission details to follow
  • You should hear from them within 6 months if they are interested
  • Browse their catalog
  • Park Ridge, Illinois

26. Charlesbridge

  • Publishes primarily books for children, but also adult puzzle books, cookbooks, and a few nonfiction titles. Their submission guidelines also state they are accepting young-adult novels.
  • Submission guidelines
  • Submit through mail
  • They will respond if they are interested only.
  • Here are their children’s books
  • Watertown, Massachusetts

27. Peachtree

  • Specialize in children’s books, from board books to picture books to young adult fiction and nonfiction. They also maintain a line of adult backlist titles covering consumer references in health, education, and parenting; regional guide books about Southern US; adult fiction, biography, and memoirs with a focus on Southern authors.
  • Submission guidelines
  • Send through mail
  • Their review process typically takes 6-9 months
  • Check out their books
  • Atlanta, Georgia

28. MuseItUp Publishing

  • MuseItUp is the main fiction imprint, and they have several other imprints as well (MuseItYoung, MuseItYA, MuseItHot, and Steel).
  • They are open to the following genres: romance, paranormal-fantasy, mystery-suspense-thriller, young adult, MuseItYoung (tween books for 10-14 year olds), horror & dark fiction, and science fiction.
  • Submission guidelines
  • As of 2017, they have a specific calendar of dates they are open to new submissions in only a certain genre. For example, between February 1 and March 31, they accept Dark Fiction submissions. From May 1 to June 30 they are open to Science Fiction and Fantasy submissions. Read the submission guidelines carefully so you submit during the right time.
  • They prefer electronic submission.
  • Here you can browse their books
  • Canada

29. Turner Publishing

  • Little bit of everything – children’s, health & fitness, cookbooks, literary fiction, thriller/suspense, family & relationships/religion, juvenile fiction, history, humor, science, sports, romance, and nonfiction
  • Submissions
  • Their submissions don’t provide a lot of guidelines except where to email your materials
  • They will contact if interested
  • Check out their books
  • Nashville, Tennessee

30. Koehler Books

  • Christian, Historical, Mystery & Suspense, Nonfiction, and Young Adult
  • Submission guidelines
  • They do not accept previously published books
  • You should respond via email and should hear back within 1-2 weeks
  • View their home page
  • Virginia Beach, VA

How To Get Noticed by Publishers

Once you've decided you want one of your books published, it's time to put in the work to get noticed and stay out of the slush pile.

Here are the strategies we'll take a look at:

  • Follow the guidelines
  • Be polite and professional
  • Build connections at conferences
  • Make it your best work
  • Be open to feedback
  • Build your author platform

Follow the Guidelines

Read and follow the stinkin’ guidelines.

Then read and follow them again.

Provide the publisher with exactly what they request in the method requested. If they say strongly prefer electronic submissions, give yourself a bonus point and submit your materials electronically.

Do not send your full manuscript unless they explicitly ask for it in their submission guidelines, or after they’ve expressed interested in your query letter.

#GetPublished Rule #1: Follow the stinkin' guidelines!Click To Tweet

Write an amazing query letter. This is like the cover letter you write when you’re applying for job, hoping for an interview. You need to write your best pitch to sell your book in a one-page letter, hoping the editor or agent picks your book to “interview” further.

Many publishers also request a synopsis or a brief summary of your entire story. Sample chapters are another common request for publishing companies. Most guidelines specify if they want one, two, or your first five. Give them what they ask for.

Nonfiction authors need to write a killer book proposal to show your book idea will sell, and that you have the credibility to give the advice. Among other things, your book proposal will include a detailed analysis of similar books already on the market, how your book is different, who will buy the book (your target audience), and why they need it, your author bio, a detailed chapter-by-chapter outline, and sample chapters. You’ll want to spend a fair amount of time researching and preparing your book proposal, which will probably end up being between 10 and 25 pages long.

Ultimately, send them quality work of what they ask for — nothing more, nothing less.

Be Professional and Polite

In all of your interactions as an author, you’ll be noticed for being polite and professional. In your letters, emails, social media, phone calls, and in-person conversations, show courtesy and professionalism and people will be more likely to want to do business with you.

If you come across as rude and unprofessional, people are not going to want to work with you. Editors receive an unbelievable number of submissions every month, so be patient and humble as you’re pursuing a publisher.

Build Connections

Good old fashioned one-on-one networking with people who work at publishing companies is another way to increase your chances of getting your foot in the door.

Publishers are more likely to at least carefully consider queries from someone they recognize, so bust out of your comfort zone and introduce yourself to people at conferences and summits. You never know where a connection may lead.

Make It Your Best Work

This is another “should go without saying,” but before you start pitching editors or agents, make sure your work is your best work. This goes for your manuscript as well as all of your submission materials. Read them out loud. Have someone else edit them. This is part of being professional. Don’t waste the publisher's time or yours by submitting sloppy materials.

Be Open to Feedback

Another tough one for some authors is being open to feedback. If your editor, your agent, and your beta readers give you feedback, have an open mind to it. Consider their point of view and seek more opinions or information if you’re unsure.

You probably won’t follow every piece of advice given (sometimes they're contradictory), but as authors, we are so blind to our passionate work that we miss the flashing red lights only outsiders can see. Tweak what’s necessary to create a more compelling book.

Build Your Author Platform

Finally, and this is especially important for nonfiction authors but doesn’t hurt for fiction authors either, build your author platform.

Design a professional author website that showcases your previous work if you have any and have your social media author accounts ready to go.

Showing the publishing companies that you have established a place in the world as an author by building a big email list will certainly help. This sends the message that you’ll be more like a partner to them in marketing your book — something they’ll love to see.

An Important Note About Vanity Presses

Apart from the 30 publishing companies on this list, not every company out there has your best interests at heart. Much like in the indie world, there are people out there who are more than happy to use you as a means of earning themselves money. Vanity presses are publishing companies that charge you a fee to publish your book, and do nothing to market it or professionally edit it. Be wary of any company that wants you to pay them to publish your story. If this happens, run for the hills.

If you're unsure of the difference between legitimate publishing houses and these ‘vanity presses,' check out this helpful guide that will clear things up for you.

Get After It

If the prestige, validation, greater potential of having your very own book on bookstore shelves, and the potential for literary awards is exciting to you, then researching and contacting publishing houses that seem the best fit for your writing may now be on your to-do list.

If reading about these publishing companies is exciting to you, or you've always known getting a publishing contract would mean the world to you, then why not go after it?

One thing I do know is if you never try, you’ll never know.

And as you’ve learned, you don’t even have to have an agent. You'll probably get a rejection or five, but don't get discouraged. There are plenty of legitimate book publishing companies out there just waiting to find the next talented author.

Why not you?

Cheers,

Dave-Signature

3 Comments

  1. mica on October 18, 2020 at 8:22 am

    What about Bookouture, they accept manuscripts without an agent. They do not pay advances but pay higher royalties

  2. Ron S. Nolan on October 18, 2020 at 6:11 am

    Excellent, informative article.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Dave Chesson on October 20, 2020 at 1:10 am

      Glad you liked it.

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Hey Guys, I’m Dave and when I am not sipping tea with princesses or chasing the Boogey man out of closets, I’m a Kindlepreneur and digital marketing nut – it’s my career, hobby, and passion.

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