In December, I posted Author Wonk 1: “Writing a Query, Finding an Agent.” You need an agent to be published by one of the big five publishing houses: Hachette, Harper Collins, Macmillan, Penguin/Random House, and Simon and Schuster. That there are only five big publishing houses is a classic “big fish swallows littler fish” story.
Fortunately, the Big Five didn’t swallow all the small presses, and new small presses arise regularly. The entrepreneurial spirit! A small publisher is still considered traditional publishing, but not one of the Big Five. “Indie” publishing: a squishy term. To some it means a small publisher independent of the Big Five force field. To others it means self-publishing. Author Wonk 2 looks at small presses and hybrid publishing.
Here’s some reliable sites that publish lists of small presses, the links to presses with clear historical fiction interest are listed first.
Best Historical Fiction Book Publishing Companies (2023) Reedsy, based in the UK but acting worldwide (with creds from the likes of BBC and Forbes), provides writers with access to a range of professionals and tools for self-publishing and traditional publishing. Here, they list 44 presses that publish historical fiction. Each listing has a link to the publisher’s website, submission links where available, and where located (most are UK or U.S.).
47 Historical Fiction Publishers TCK Publishing, which publishes this list, is itself a “small independent publishing company.” For each listing there is simply a link to the publisher’s website and another to its submission guidelines.
16 Top Historical Fiction Publishers (2023) The History Quill – Historical Fiction Specialists, divides these 16 between the UK and U.S. and provides a brief paragraph on authors, subgenres, and a website link to each entry.
Small Press Database Poets & Writers filters your small-press search by genre, subgenre, response time, unsolicited submissions, etc. Their database includes approximately 400 small publishers.
Fast-Growing Indie Publishers (2022) Publishers Weekly provides mini reports on 14 small publishers that are on the rise and includes a chart of statistics for 11 of them.
The 9 Best Independent Publishers in the U.S. (2020) NY Book Editors, a collection of three dozen professional editors, takes a look at nine independent publishing houses, many of them recognizable names, such as Graywolf and Algonquin Books. With each, they list genres, number of books published annually, and status for unagented submissions.
The Big, Big List of Indie Publishers and Small Presses (2022) is published by The Nonconformist, “a literary magazine…[that] encourages and supports a community of both emerging and established writers.” The list of 150+ publishers is alphabetical and includes, for each, a short descriptive paragraph plus a link to that publisher’s submission guidelines.
24 of Our Favorite Small Presses (2018) from Powell’s Books. The list is in no particular order. Each publisher gets a brief description, with mentions of a few of their published books. The list is five years old, but…it’s Powell’s!
Hybrid Publishing: “Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know”
“Hybrid publishing combines elements from two different sources: 1. It resembles self-publishing because the author carries the cost and financial risk; thus, it involves an investment of your own capital. 2. It resembles traditional publishing because professionals, not you, carry out the tasks required to transform a Word document on your laptop into an object called a book that people can buy and read. “It’s like hiring a contractor. You pay the contractor to oversee the design, construction, plumbing, electricity, and so on, because he has the contacts and expertise that you lack or don’t have the bandwidth to acquire. When it’s done, you own the house; the contractor produced it (for a fee), but he doesn’t own it.”
Hybrid Publishing Spreads Its Wings (2022) This Publishers Weekly column describes hybrid publishing, how its grown, and spotlights ten of the best hybrid publishing companies. Plus: a list of Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) hybrid publisher criteria.
Authors Guild Statement on Hybrid Publishing Report (2022) AG provides a link to “Is It a Steal,” the report on hybrid publishing from the Society of Authors and the Writers Guild of Great Britain. AG’s statement notes that “The hybrid publishing space is larger and more nuanced in the United States. There are some highly reputable hybrid publishers in the U.S., such as She Writes Press.” [Two Paper Lantern Writers work with She Writes Press] AG also offers some suggestions for how to protect yourself from unscrupulous hybrid publishers.
List of (43) Hybrid Publishers TCK Publishing, which publishes this list, is itself a “small independent publishing company” and a hybrid publisher. For each listing there is simply a link to the publisher’s website and another to its submission guidelines.
Self-Publishing Services Rated The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) helps you choose the best self-publishing services with a free rated list and a low-cost directory for members.
“Let the Buyer Beware”: unscrupulous publishing companies, hybrid providers, and self-publishing services exist. If you’re an Authors Guild member, ask their advice. Or check the internet for publisher credentials. If you have recommendations or cautions, please post them in COMMENTS, below.
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Judging Noa: a Fight for Women’s Rights in the Turmoil of the Exodus is Michal Strutin’s debut novel. She is now working on a mystery series set in the Late Renaissance. Michal’s award-winning nonfiction focuses on natural and cultural history and travel. Her eight nonfiction books include Places of Grace: the Natural Landscapes of the American Midwest with photographer Gary Irving; Discovering Natural Israel, a high-spirited discovery of flora, fauna, and people; Florida State Parks: a Complete Recreation Guide; and History Hikes of the Smokies.