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DIRECTORY

Best Nonfiction Independent Publishers in 2024

Showing 33 indie publishers that match your search.

Publisher of: Nonfiction

This Massachusetts-based press prides itself on the high production value of its titles, which range from novels and creative nonfiction to poetry. They treat their books as art objects — “a joy,” in the press’s own words, “to hold as well as read.” Crack open those impeccably printed pages, and you’ll find artful language, unsurpassed lyricism, and playful experimentation with form, no matter what the genre. The bulk of Tupelo Press's catalogue consists of poetry collections, although they also publish literary fiction and creative nonfiction.

🔥 Hit title: Good Bones by Maggie Smith

⭐️ Best known for: Poetry Collections

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Contest Entries. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Nonfiction

Quirk Books is best known for publishing Seth Grahame-Smith’s brilliant decision to mash up Regency romance and B-movie horror, a title that ultimately became an NYT bestseller — not to mention a Lily James-led film. True to its name, this Philly-based indie press injects a whole lot of whimsy into the literary world. Quirk’s publishing program is unabashedly reader-centric, aiming to produce “objects of delight and desire”. Its titles — from humorous essays on celebrity to LGBT-affirming picture books — are clever, irreverent, and eminently giftable.

🔥 Hit title: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

⭐️ Best known for: How-To Guides, Humor, Science Fiction & Fantasy, YA

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Book Proposals, Full Manuscripts. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Nonfiction

Founded in 1974, Graywolf Press is a jewel among independent publishers. The 35 or so titles it releases every year are regularly showered with laurels, from rave NYT reviews to “best of the year” nods. It’s no exaggeration to call Graywolf one of the top publishing houses of any size, despite its relatively modest, $4 million annual budget. No wonder established writers, who have the name recognition to court the Big 5, often opt to stick with this storied small press instead.

🔥 Hit title: Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

⭐️ Best known for: Literary Fiction, Memoirs

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Contest Entries. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Nonfiction

Catapult Books may have been founded in 2015, but they’ve made a huge impact on the literary scene in just a few years. In fact, they’ve made such a big splash that they managed to acquire an older indie publisher, Counterpoint Press, back in 2016. Post-merger, Catapult’s small, impeccably curated catalog — mostly memoir and literary fiction — continues to exemplify quality over quantity.

🔥 Hit title: All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung

⭐️ Best known for: Literary Fiction, Memoir

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? No

Publisher of: Nonfiction

McSweeney’s is better known for their humor website, which features snort-inducing titles like “I Regret to Inform You That My Wedding to Captain Von Trapp Has Been Canceled” and “Signs You May Be a Female Character in a Work of Historical Fiction.” But this San Francisco-based indie publisher also runs a small — yet vibrant — books division. Their titles range from brainy, irreverent humor in the vein of their Internet Tendency to more serious fare: politically incisive nonfiction with a progressive bent.

🔥 Hit title: Indelible in the Hippocampus by Shelly Oria (editor)

⭐️ Best known for: Humor, Memoir

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Full Manuscripts. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Nonfiction

This small, but mighty, indie press prides itself on publishing “strange and beautiful” work, both fiction and nonfiction. The resulting catalogue tends to send readers on a rollercoaster ride, jumping from chortling absurdity to heartbreaking tragedy, from ice-cold beer to Armageddon. And that’s within a single book! Common themes that cut across titles include music, magical realist hijinks, and darkly funny takes on the end of the world. No matter what the genre, Featherproof titles make their readers laugh — and think.

🔥 Hit title: The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic by Jessica Hopper

⭐️ Best known for: Literary Fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? No

Publisher of: Nonfiction

Founded in 2002, Noemi Press operates out of Blacksburg, Virginia, where it publishes both new and established writers — especially women, queer people, and people of color. Their titles are often described as part something, part something else, and you can fill in the blanks to build all kinds of fascinating, extremely high-brow combos: say “autofiction” and “sequential critical engagement”, or “family gothic” and “queer historiography”. Even books that don’t have this genre mashup quality feel pieced together, in the best way, mixing forms and textures to produce writing that feels wholly new.

🔥 Hit title: Her 37th Year, An Index by Suzanne Scanlon

⭐️ Best known for: Literary Fiction, Memoir

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Contest Entries. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Nonfiction

Married couple George and Marsha Braziller started publishing high quality, visually arresting art books in 1955 — an outgrowth of their passion for modern painting and the book clubs they hosted throughout the ‘40s. George, who won the trust of Nobel Prize Laureates like Claude Simone and Orhan Pamuk, passed away in 2017, aged 101. But the legendary press that bears his name remains in the hands of his two sons. These days, George Braziller has branched out beyond its art historical roots to publish widely in fiction and poetry.

🔥 Hit title: Faces in the Water by Janet Frame

⭐️ Best known for: History, Literary Fiction

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? No

Publisher of: Nonfiction

Press 53 titles are set apart by their fearlessly anti-commercial tenor. This indie publisher specializes in publishing poets and short story writers — in other words, the kind of authors who have trouble landing book deals at more mainstream presses. Their backlist shows an interest in experimentation: look for innovative forms like flash fiction, prose poetry, and linked short stories that come together to form a novel. Based in North Carolina, Press 53 looks for great writing by authors from all over the US.

🔥 Hit title: What the Zhang Boys Know by Clifford Garstang

⭐️ Best known for: Literary Fiction

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Contest Entries. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Nonfiction

One of the top indie publishers when it comes to literary accolades, Bellevue Literary Press has a Pulitzer under its belt, not to mention an International Latino Book Award and finalist nods from the National Book Award and the Kirkus Prize. Though it began as a project of the NYU School of Medicine, Bellevue Literary Press is now a fully indie nonprofit. Still, its med school roots remain clear in its mission: publishing thoughtful books that sit at the intersection of the arts and the sciences.

🔥 Hit title: Tinkers by Paul Harding

⭐️ Best known for: Biographies, Literary Fiction

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Full Manuscripts. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Nonfiction

This Brooklyn-based outfit specializes in children’s books, as gorgeously illustrated as they’re richly imagined. But their catalogue goes far beyond the big red dogs and very hungry caterpillars you probably remember from your own childhood. That’s not to say that you won’t find any woodland critters cavorting in Enchanted Lion’s titles. But this indie publisher puts a premium on the “power of cultural exchange.” Enchanted Lion excels at putting out picture books set all over the world, many of them translated from languages like French and Japanese.

🔥 Hit title: Cry, Heart, But Never Break by Glenn Ringtved and Charlotte Pardi

⭐️ Best known for: Children's Books

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Full Manuscripts. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Nonfiction

This edgy, Manchester-based press has furnished a voice for the counterculture since 1991. Originally founded to sell VHS copies of a controversial cult director’s latest release, Headpress hasn’t strayed far from its roots in pulp, grindhouse, and all things indie film. Beyond its sharp criticism of movie genres that don't get a lot mainstream attention, Headpress publishes widely across the spectrum of quirky nonfiction. Look through its list of titles, and you'll see everything from deep cuts on underground music to trippy meditations on European folklore.

🔥 Hit title: Bleeding Skull by Joseph A. Ziemba and Dan Budnik

⭐️ Best known for: Biography, Film, Journalism

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Queries. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Nonfiction

The playful, punk-adjacent Microcosm Publishing considers itself the “most colorful, authentic, and empowering publishing house” in Portland's vibrant indie publishing scene. It’s a bold claim, but one borne out by the press’s DIY mindset, its centering of marginalized creators, and its exclusive use of recycled printing paper. Microcosm emerged as a zine distributor run out of founder Joe Biel’s bedroom, and it’s hung onto that sense of grit even after decades of expansion. Their strongest titles tend to be no-nonsense handbooks full of actionable instructions.

🔥 Hit title: Making Stuff and Doing Things by Kyle Bravo (editor)

⭐️ Best known for: How-To Guides

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Queries. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Nonfiction

Two New York-based creatives — sculptor Valerie Merians and writer Dennis Loy Johnson — founded Melville House in the aftermath of 9/11. Their inaugural title was a poetry anthology collection thoughtful, devastating responses to the attacks from the likes of Pulitzer winners and New York State poets. These days, Melville House continues to engage with both politics and high art. Their nonfiction titles tackle tough issues like CIA torture and presidential malfeasance, while their fiction program elevates emerging talents and underrated international writers — voices overlooked by corporate publishing.

🔥 Hit title: Cat Out of Hell by Lynne Truss

⭐️ Best known for: Journalism, Literary Fiction

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? No

Publisher of: Nonfiction

Named after the left-hand page, this left-leaning publisher has been furnishing reading material for prospective revolutionaries since 1970. No wonder Harper’s hailed it as “Anglo-America’s preeminent radical press.” They lean more literary theory than literary fiction, offering sharp, syllabus-ready books across the full slate of humanities and social science disciplines, from Anthropology to Race and Ethnicity. Though many of their writers belong to the professoriate, Verso Books isn’t a university press. Their nonfiction, though intellectually rigorous, tends to be snappier than your usual academic fare.

🔥 Hit title: Females: A Concern by Andrea Long Chu

⭐️ Best known for: Biography, History, Journalism

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Book Proposals. View guidelines →

What is an independent publisher?

An independent publisher is a publisher not affiliated with any big corporations or conglomerates — meaning they operate independently. Think of them as the small businesses of the publishing world: they’re like chic local boutiques compared to the Macy’s and Nordstroms of the Big 5. Indie presses also tend to be small presses, an industry term for publishers making less than $50 million annually.

Independent publishers vs. self-publishers

There’s plenty to ruminate on when it comes to the distinction between indie publishing and self-publishing, but independent publishers are quite different from self-publishers. In a nutshell, indie presses operate on a far smaller scale than the billion-dollar publishing juggernauts, but they still fall under the umbrella of traditional publishing.

Resources for submitting to independent publishers in 2024

Not all independent publishers take unagented submissions, but many of them do, allowing you to cut out the middleman and make your writerly dreams come true all on your own. 

Of course, to make this happen, you'll have to be your project's best advocate. That means writing the best book you can, of course, but you shouldn't stop there — you'll have to study your target press's submissions guidelines and let them guide your next move.

Will you need to craft a killer book proposal, or brush up on your querying technique? Either way, we've got you covered. To give you a push on your path to indie publisher stardom, we've compiled some resources for putting together the perfect submission.

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