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DIRECTORY

Best Poetry Independent Publishers in 2024

Showing 16 indie publishers that match your search.

Publisher of: Poetry

Tin House’s legendary literary magazine may have shuttered its doors 2019, but their book publishing program is still going strong. Originally launched as an Bloomsbury imprint, Tin House Books spun off into an indie publisher in 2005. They release around 12 books a year often from first-time authors. Tin House Books publishes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, and they have a penchant for lush, character-driven contemporary novels, playful essay collections, and memoirs that delve into complex relationships with uncompromising insight.

🔥 Hit title: Things We Didn't Talk About When I Was a Girl by Jeannie Vanasco

⭐️ Best known for: Essay Collections, Literary Fiction, Memoirs

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? No

Publisher of: Poetry

LA-based Rare Bird Books has a strong affinity for edgy, whip-smart titles on sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll: think candid sex worker memoirs and deep dives into the London music scene of the ‘70s. Besides nonfiction, Rare Bird widely publishes a number of genres over its various imprints. California Coldblood, for instance, presides over the press’s speculative fiction titles, while Barnacle Books takes care of crime fiction. As a whole, their titles are both progressive and compulsively readable, no matter if it’s PG-friendly or NSFW.

🔥 Hit title: Camgirl by Isa Mazzei

⭐️ Best known for: Memoir, Mysteries, Science Fiction & Fantasy

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? No

Publisher of: Poetry

This storied Canadian publisher has been running out of Toronto since 1967. In that time, it’s grown from a one-man operation to a North American indie powerhouse, publishing prominent authors like Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje. As it makes headway into its sixth decade of operation, House of Anansi remains as committed as ever to promoting Canadian literature, including French-Canadian books in translation, and work by First Nations authors.

🔥 Hit title: How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti

⭐️ Best known for: Memoirs, Literary Fiction

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

Publisher of: Poetry

The publishing wing of San Francisco’s legendary City Lights Bookstore, this small press started off with a bang — or rather, an obscenity trial. Their decision to publish Allen Ginsberg’s (in)famous Beat Generation classsic mired them in legal turmoil back in 1957. These days, City Lights is still publishing groundbreaking poetry, alongside other titles in fiction and nonfiction. While the staff is no longer getting arrested, they’ve maintained their commitment to politically challenging, artistically incisive work.

🔥 Hit title: Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsburg

⭐️ Best known for: Essay Collections, Poetry Collections, Memoir

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

Publisher of: Poetry

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: Poetry

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: Poetry

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: Poetry

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: Poetry

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: Poetry

Founded in 1976, BOA Editions focuses on poetry. Though they publish fewer than 20 books a year, their editors are discerning enough to sniff out plenty of prizewinners. BOA’s roster includes decorated — and phenomenally popular — poets like National Book Award finalist Lucille Clifton and Naomi Shihab Nye, the first Arab American to be named the Young People’s Poet Laureate. But BOA also looks beyond verse, running several contests for short fiction writers, as well as poets seeking publication.

🔥 Hit title: Blessing the Boats by Lucille Clifton

⭐️ Best known for: Poetry Collections

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

Publisher of: Poetry

Founded in 1972, Coffee House Press has grown from tiny letterpress to internationally renowned nonprofit. They’ve managed to stay close to their roots, putting out the occasional small-batch, letterpress chapbooks, complete with hand-sewn spines. But their backlist of more traditional volumes is substantial and growing. These days, Coffee House best known for their boundary-pushing, genre-crossing novels and essay collections — many of which have won prestigious nominations, from the Pulitzer to the National Book Award.

🔥 Hit title: I Hotel by Karen Tei Yamashita

⭐️ Best known for: Literary Fiction, Memoir, Poetry Collections

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

Publisher of: Poetry

This independent publisher emerged in the 1970s, out of second wave feminism’s heyday. Its first print runs were dedicated to foundational women’s studies texts, biographies, and rediscovered feminist literary classics like "The Yellow Wallpaper." These days, FP’s growing list speaks to a much more modern brand of feminism, sensitive to issues of race, sexuality, and gender identity. Since 2017, the press has been headed by Jamia Wilson, its youngest-ever director — and the first woman of color to serve at the organization’s helm. Under her leadership, the press puts out exciting, impeccably crafted books by diverse writers.

🔥 Hit title: Training School for Negro Girls by Camille Acker

⭐️ Best known for: Biography, Essay Collections, Literary Fiction

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

Publisher of: Poetry

This indie publisher got its start because Ezra Pound didn’t believe in a certain Harvard undergrad’s future in poetry. James Laughlin, then a college sophomore, went to the legendary modernist for advice. And Pound, who had been critiquing his work all semester, urged him to give up writing and “do something useful” instead. Thus New Directions Publishing was born. Laughlin retained a love for verse, so the budding press’s first books were poetry anthologies and collections by the greats — including Pound. These days, New Directions boasts a rich collection of fiction and criticism as well, especially works in translation.

🔥 Hit title: The Emissary by Yoko Tawada and Margaret Mitsutani (translator)

⭐️ Best known for: Literary Fiction, Poetry Collections

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? No

Publisher of: Poetry

This Minneapolis-based press takes inspiration from its botanical namesake. Just as milkweed feeds the transformation of caterpillars into monarch butterflies, Milkweed Editions supports emerging and experimental writers, giving them a home for their work to flourish. Its catalogue is an exercise in artistic risk-taking: full of intricately textured novels, cerebral and raw memoirs, and some of the finest verse by young poets.

🔥 Hit title: Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

⭐️ Best known for: Poetry Collections

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

Publisher of: Poetry

Alternating Current Press is an indie press dedicated to publishing and promoting incredible literature that challenges readers and has an innate sense of self, timelessness, and atmosphere. We love science, history, homebound roots, rural landscapes, sense of place, poetic literary fiction, diverse voices, and all that is electric in the literary world.

⭐️ Best known for: Fiction, Poetry, Short Fiction

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Manuscript Contests. 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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