by Lesley-Anne Longo
Published at 2023-04-05
Independent Canadian publishers help define the Canadian literary scene. In 2019, we published the first listing of 5 such publishers for emerging authors, and in 2020, we published a list of 5 more indie publishers currently accepting manuscripts.
This year, we decided to revisit that list and check to see if those publishers were still accepting submissions. Good news—most of them still are! And, in even more good news, we found 2 more indie presses accepting unsolicited manuscripts. So, read on to see if any of these10 presses sound like the perfect fit for your manuscript.
(If you need help deciding, check out our recent blog, 5 Tips to Finding the Right Publisher for Your Manuscript, which will help you determine which press is the best option for your project!)
Founded in 1976, Turnstone Press is a literary publisher dedicated to providing Canadian authors with visibility. Located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, poetry, literary fiction, and literary non-fiction are this publisher’s genres of choice. They are always looking for titles that reflect the diversity of both Manitoba and Canada and encourage Indigenous writers, writers of colour, writers from the LGBTQ2S community, and writers with disabilities to send in their work.
Turnstone Press only accepts submissions via its online submission form. To access the online submission form you must create an account on the Turnstone Press website. Check out their submissions page for the full set of submission instructions and guidelines.
At Bay Press, located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, is an independent, award-winning publisher. They are known for original, thoughtful content as well as exceptionally crafted and well-designed titles, some of which are constructed by hand.
They are only interested in literary fiction and literary non-fiction (including poetry). They do publish literary mysteries, thrillers, and noir, and are interested in quality submissions in the science fiction, fantasy and graphic novel genres as well.
At Bay will review unsolicited manuscripts, but they do note that any submissions must be exclusive. If yours is a multiple submission, make sure you indicate this in your cover letter. If your manuscript is being seriously considered for publication, they will require a period of exclusivity before continuing to assess it.
At Bay Press accepts manuscripts through the submission portal CanSubmit. For a full list of guidelines and instructions, check out their submissions page.
Between the Lines is a social movement press founded in 1977. They publish non-fiction books that expose and challenge oppression in our society, aiming to amplify the struggles of Black, Indigenous, and racialized communities; migrants; women; queer folks; and working-class people. Their authors are academics, journalists, artists, and activists—as they put it, “all our authors hope their books will spark political and social change.”
Interestingly, Between the Lines has no publisher, no individual owner—they are run by a small staff and a dedicated volunteer editorial committee. Decisions on what they publish are made by consensus!
If you think your manuscript might be a good fit for Between the Lines, check out their submissions page for a full list of the genres they publish. Note that they actually prefer to receive proposals as opposed to full manuscripts, so make sure you read their guidelines carefully.
Representing Prince Edward County, Ontario, the most well-established of the publishers on this list is Invisible Publishing, which published its first works of fiction in 2007. Since then, Invisible has gone on to publish graphic novels—both fiction and non-fiction—pop-culture biographies, and poetry.
Invisible Publishing is a not-for-profit publisher dedicated to publishing works by diverse voices. In its own words, Invisible Publishing believes in “building communities that sustain and encourage engaging, literary, and current writing.”
Invisible only accepts submissions via an online form on their website, and you’ll need your resume/C.V., a dated query letter, a synopsis, and the full manuscript. Check out more details and guidelines on their submissions page.
Indian Ink started its presses in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in April of 2019, approaching its entry into the market with an open mind and a broad mandate. Indian Ink describes itself as “a woman-of-colour led, independent publisher that offers a platform to all authors, particularly those voices that have been historically and systematically underrepresented,” and is currently accepting submissions for literary fiction, trade fiction, and creative non-fiction manuscripts from emerging and established authors.
To submit, you’ll need a cover letter, brief author bio, a brief synopsis of your book, and information on your platforms as an author. For more information on manuscript formatting and details on what to include in your submission, see their submission guidelines.
The origins of TouchWood Editions go back to 1984 with the formation of BC-based Horsdal & Schubart. In 2000, H&S was renamed TouchWood Editions when Pat Touchie purchased the company from Marlyn Horsdal and Michael Schubart. Since then, and with the 2013 launch of their imprint Brindle & Glass, TouchWood Editions has developed a broad mandate, publishing inclusive and award-winning fiction and non-fiction.
If you’re interested in submitting a complete or partial manuscript to TouchWood, make sure you check out their submission guidelines first. They only accept electronic submissions, so no need to worry about fussing with mailers, but the list of what the require for a submission package is quite detailed, so make sure you read the guidelines carefully.
Rebel Mountain Press is a relatively new Canadian publishing house, founded in 2015 by Lori Shwydky and Cheryl Ann Kelly. Publishing poetry, anthologies, fiction, non-fiction, and books for young people, Rebel Mountain Press publishes books that promote social change.
Their four core values—diversity, equality, tolerance, and female empowerment—inform the types of titles they publish. Emerging and established Canadian authors (and Canadian authors only) who are interested in submitting work to Rebel Mountain Press for publication, should first take a look at their submission guidelines, which include information about what type of material Rebel Mountain is currently looking for.
An imprint of Caitlin Press, which was founded in 1977, Dagger Editions launched in 2016, giving more publishing power to Caitlin Press’s already progressive and inclusive mandate. With their particular focus on poetry by and about queer women, Dagger Editions provides a voice to this historically underrepresented group.
Take a look at their submission guidelines to determine if your work fits with Dagger’s progressive mandate. If not, consider submitting your work to Caitlin Press, which also accepts unsolicited manuscripts.
Founded in Montreal in 1986 as Nuage Editions, this press has the honour of being Quebec’s first desktop publisher. After more than a decade operating in Montreal, Nuage Editions moved to Winnipeg in 2000 and Karen Haughian, then Nuage’s sole proprietor, changed the house’s name to Signature Editions.
Karen Haughian continues to play an active role at Signature Editions as the house’s owner, publisher, and editor of fiction and non-fiction with Doug Whiteway acting as Signature Editions’ mystery editor.
Since Signature Editions regularly publishes work by first-time authors, interested authors should review Signature’s submission guidelines. Please note that this press only publishes Canadian citizens, however.
The youngest publishing house on this list, entering the Canadian publishing scene in 2019, Radiant Press continues the publishing tradition of fellow-Saskatchewan publisher Coteau Books.
Radiant Press publishes a variety of material (by exclusively Canadian authors), including fiction, poetry, and, in their own words, authors who “defy genre.” Radiant Press is particularly dedicated to promoting authors from their native Saskatchewan but, Saskatchewanian or not, interested authors can read up on Radiant’s submission guidelines here.
So, whether you’ve submitted to publishers in the past with no luck or if you’re still preparing your initial submission package, consider the 10 houses and imprints listed here and give your work a shot! And good luck!
Looking for more content that can help new authors? Check out our blogs on creating a great hook to catch the eye of a publisher, or how you can put together a great manuscript submission package.