A lot of the following research was done at – www.authorspublish.com – it’s a very helpful website for authors, go check it out
Anybody who’s put in the time, effort, and stress required for the making of a book (or other work of literature) probably want’s that work to succeed in the real world. I certainly will whenever I get around to it. Whether that means you want to reach the New York Times best seller list or you just want your book to be accessible to a very specific/niche reader base depends on the writer, but for those who want their best shot at fame, who want as many readers as possible to love their work, then there’s no doubt that being published by one of the Big 5 is the way to do it. For those who don’t know, the Big 5 are the big, major trade book publishers (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster). They have access to the best marketing, publicity, and design teams (yay cover art!). It can be hard to get published by these major companies, of course, especially if you don’t have an agent. So today I will be sharing with you 7 (and a half) of the Big 5’s imprint companies who are currently accepting unsolicited submissions. These are just the ones that I found, of course, and there may be (probably are) more. Compiling this information took me literally forever (I don’t even know how you’re reading this since I’m still researching it and will be for eternity), so I hope you appreciate the effort. I would like to think that this will help at least one person out there, but I’m pretty sure no one’s ever going to read this other than my professor. Enjoy!
Some Things To Keep In Mind
If you’re wondering what an imprint company is, I found Gina Gagliano’s explanation pretty helpful, which can be found here. Basically large publishing companies like the Big 5 often have multiple imprints, the different names and operations of which create their own brands and market to specific demographics, i.e: romance, sci-fi, erotica, etc. Imprints can function on many different levels of independence, but in relation to you as an author the good thing to know is that these imprints have access to Big 5 level production and sales (not only do each of the Big 5 undoubtedly have a relationship with Barnes and Noble but also with bookstores all over the place, as well as grocery stores and anywhere else you might find a book: airports? I think yes).
Generally I will be linking the imprints submissions page or the page where an address can be found for sending submissions, but I suggest you click around the website (accessible from the submissions page usually) to learn about the company and see if they are a fit for you and your work; not only should you be picking a company that reflects your work but it can be helpful to be aware of what a company is all about and let that leak into a query or book proposal; companies like to know that you’re aware of what kind of books they publish. Especially make sure to read submission guidelines thoroughly, some have very broad guidelines and some are very specific and have directions you should follow closely.
Many of these are digital-first, meaning they will publish an eBook version of your work and if it does well they follow it up with a traditional print version.
It is possible that some of the imprints listed are not currently open to submissions at this exact moment, but all (I’m pretty sure) plan to reopen at some point in the near future if they are not currently.
Here We Go!
Versify – Houghton Mifflin
Caters to young readers/children – looking for “books to electrify, edify, and exemplify,” whatever that means. They accept novels (entire manuscript), nonfiction (synopsis and sample chapters), picture books (manuscript, pictures not yet necessary), and graphic novels (detailed synopsis and sample pages). If this sounds like it could be a fit for you, feel free to check them out!
Forever Yours – Hachette
(digital version of Forever, an imprint of Grand Central Publishing, which is an imprint of Hachette)
Interested in romance of any genre, not interested in any YA, fantasy, mystery, general fiction, or nonfiction. Novels should be between 50,000-100,000 words. Novellas should be 25,000 or more words (and obviously less than 50,000 words). Sound like you? Learn more.
SMP Swerve – Macmillan
Looking for romance of all kinds, listed examples include: contemporary romance, new adult, category romance stories, romantic suspense, western, historical, inspirational, paranormal, time-travel, and erotica. If you want to know what all that means or feel like this is the fit for you, you know what to do.
Tor/Forge – Macmillan
Does not respond to queries – Don’t send a query letter.
Specialize in science fiction and fantasy (one of the most established in the genre, I’d be impressed if you’ve never heard of Tor, although it is right down my alley so maybe I’m biased). Check it out, I dare you.
What’s the difference between a proposal and a query? A query letter is a very short (usually one page) letter that states a books concept, gives basic information on the author, and is generally trying to interest an agent/editor enough to ask for more material. It’s like sending a resume in hopes of getting an interview. The book proposal usually already comes with ‘more material,’ and is a more detailed presentation of a book. It will include all the things the query did in more detail, an about the author section, potential audience for the book and demonstration of genre awareness, sample chapters or possibly a whole manuscript, and probably (definitely) more. More info here.
Avon Impulse – Harper Collins
(imprint of Avon romance)
Digital-first: books that do well enough to receive a print run are officially published by Avon Romance (rather than impulse).
Daw – Penguin
Also publishers in the sci-fi/fantasy realm, only looking for submissions of 80,000 words or more. Here’s their submissions page and their submissions guidelines, because apparently having them on the same page, or even website, would be too simple.
Harlequin – Harper Collins
Harlequin is one of the most famous romance-only publishers out there, and are very well established (meaning they’ve been around for a veeery long time). They have a very wide distribution, and are often the kind of books you can find at the end caps in grocery stores and in the small book sections in CVS. They have both a main website and a separate website dedicated to writers and submissions.
I find this submission process to be the most confusing and overwhelming; the link above will take you to the home page for their whole writing and submissions website, and there are many categories to choose from when deciding where to submit you romance. I suggest browsing the whole website and really becoming familiar with the surplus of information, but if you want to jump right to the submissions page, who am I to stop you.
Carina Press – Harper Collins
Harlequin’s digital-first adult fiction imprint
Carina Press, unlike Harlequin, doesn’t just focus on romance, although they are open to all sub-genres of romance (contemporary, paranormal, LGBTQ+, and science fiction). They also publish ‘mysteries of all flavors,’ with or without romantic elements. Submissions can be sent here, but I suggest at least reading this first. It lays out what each of the categories are looking for and even what individual editors want.
I found this just as confusing as Harlequin, and again I can’t force you to do your research but I suggest, before submitting your work, visiting the page for the category you would like to submit to. For example Carina Adores is looking for romantic trope’s of ‘All heat levels (no, really, we mean ALL),’ as they so nicely put it, which you would find out on their specific page.