Going on our second month here at HigleyFox, we’ve been thrilled to work on a couple of young adult fantasy/sci-fi novels. Young adult books have taken the publishing market by storm over the last ten to fifteen years. According to this article from The Atlantic, publishers went from putting out 3,000 YA books in 1997 to over 30,000 in 2009. That’s an incredible leap. Today, young adult literature accounts for over $3 billion in book sales.
One reason so many adults are writing YA likely has to do with the fact that over 55 percent of young adult readers are adults (including us over here at HigleyFox!). If you’re an author working on books for children or young adults, you may be interested in this top 10 list of indie publishers who will actually be excited to see your manuscript in the slush pile!
Albert Whitman & Co. brings a large selection of children’s books to the market every year, from picture books all the way up to young adult. They publish a wide variety of genres, but seem to focus more on commercial fiction than literary fiction. Some of their titles include The Boxcar Children series and Pecos Bill, winner of the Newbery Honor. One big reason to submit to them is they don’t require exclusive submissions. That means you can submit your book to them and to someone else (provided they also don’t require exclusive submissions) at the same time. Their submission guidelines can be found here.
2. Quirk Books
As their name might suggest, Quirk Books is a publisher seeking particularly unique YA projects. Most well-known for their best-selling series Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and their New York Times hit Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Quirk Books accepts emailed queries along with submissions by mail. Their yearly list is small—only 25 books—but as an author, that likely means more individual love and attention. Check out their broader list of titles here and their submission guidelines here.
Charlesbridge has a great eye for educational children’s books, with fantastic titles like Alexander Graham Bell Answers the Call and Alphabet Trains. They publish forty to fifty titles a year, making them one of the larger independent publishers on this list. The majority of their list is nonfiction, particularly rooted in history and STEM, though they recently launched a new program called CharlesbridgeTEEN. You can find their submission guidelines here.
One big reason to love Holiday House is their brief wait-time. Many publishers that accept unsolicited manuscripts ask for a lot of time to review—as many as nine months! And during that time, they ask that you don’t submit your project anywhere else. Holiday House only asks for four months. While they, like almost all publishers, will not let you know if their answer is no, the good news is they will let you know within four months if it’s a yes! That, coupled with their long and prestigious history (Holiday House has been publishing since 1935), means they’re a great option for your children’s book. Check out their submission guidelines here for more information!
Slush piles can be terrifying, but if you’re ever in need of a slush-pile fairy tale ending, look no further than Chronicle’s Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker (you can read the full story here). Chronicle Books is a large independent publisher located in San Francisco. They publish everything from art books to cookbooks to children’s books. Some of their most well-known titles include Press Here and They All Saw a Cat (a Caldecott Honor Book). Check out their other children’s books, then read up on their submission guidelines here.
If you fancy yourself the new Sarah Dessen or Stephenie Meyer, Entangled Publishing may be just the publisher for your YA romance novel. This publisher turns out 30–45 new titles a month and has sixteen different imprints, from Teen Crush to Select Historical to Scandalous. Ooh la la. Their submission guidelines are very specific, which is great for authors who prefer to have all the information on the table, from genre to word count to how graphic a sexy scene can be. Check out their different imprints and submission guidelines here.
7. Persea Books
Writers of prose, rejoice! Persea Books has a wonderful reputation as an independent publisher of thoughtful literary fiction, nontraditional literature, and educational pieces. While they do not publish genre fiction (fantasy, romance, and the like), they do accept “short story collections, creative nonfiction, memoir … books on contemporary issues (multicultural, feminist, LGBT), and literary and multicultural anthologies.” While their poetry department is very selective, they are accepting queries, and it never hurts to ask. Their submission guidelines can be found here.
Blaze is new to the publishing game—only in their second year as of 2017—but so far, they’ve managed to carve out a space for themselves and have received some good publicity for their small stack of books. As stated in their submission guidelines, they’re not currently looking for any particular genre—they’re just seeking a “message woven into the words of a well-written, young adult or middle grade novel.” Best of all, their submission guidelines make them actually sound excited to read your book, and they’re even open to publishing previously self-published novels.
Lee & Low Books has taken a pledge to “make a special effort to work with unpublished authors and illustrators of color.” They are, in fact, the largest multicultural children’s book publisher in the U.S. That being the case, white authors writing books about white characters might want to look elsewhere, though the website says they accept authors from all cultural backgrounds. If you are an author of color, however, equally interested in bringing more diversity to the literary landscape, Lee & Low Books may be the perfect publisher for you. Lee & Low is particularly interested in working with first-time authors—a major plus—and even holds a New Voices and New Visions award contest each year for the sole purpose of bringing new talent onto the scene. Check out their submission guidelines here.
This Georgia-based indie publisher has been publishing books since 1977 and has had their share of New York Times best-sellers. As stated in their submission guidelines, they are currently looking for everything from fiction and nonfiction picture books to young adult fiction and nonfiction. That said, they have a long list of genres they do not publish, including fantasy, romance, and sci-fi, so be sure to check that out before sending your book their way.
If you’re getting ready to submit your book for publication, don’t forget to check out the editing services offered here at HigleyFox. From content editing to proofreading, we have the knowledge and expertise to help you put that final spit and polish on the page, prior to submission.