by Michael Bedford
Published at 2021-05-11
New Canadian authors working without the benefit of representation are probably familiar with House of Anansi and Douglas & McIntyre as being Canadian publishers that continue to accept unsolicited manuscripts. But if you’ve already received rejections from these two houses, don’t give up: there are many independent Canadian publishers that accept unsolicited work.
The following list features ten Canadian publishers, some of which have been publishing for a decade or more. Each one publishes ground-breaking work in a variety of genres and accepts unsolicited manuscripts. Maybe one of them is a perfect fit for your manuscript!
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.”
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 its 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 its submission guidelines first.
This Winnipeg-based independent publisher originally opened its doors in Toronto in 2008. At Bay Press prides itself on the level of craftsmanship that goes into its books, even binding some of its editions by hand. This independent publisher offers poetry, literary fiction, and literary non-fiction in both traditional prose and graphic-novel format.
At Bay’s 2019/2020 catalogue advertises a new graphic novel by Christopher Ducharme and Lisa Mendis, Curb Angels; The Mother Goose Letters, a fiction hardcover by Karen Clavelle with illustrations by Bob Haverluck; The Edge: 125 Pacific Avenue, a book of photos about The Edge Skatepark in Winnipeg; and a variety of other works by up-and-coming Canadian authors. If you’d like a shot at being one of those up-and-coming authors yourself, check out At Bay’s submission guidelines.
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, including fiction, poetry, and, in its own words, authors who “defy genre.” Radiant Press is particularly dedicated to promoting authors from its native Saskatchewan but, Saskatchewanian or not, interested authors can read up on Radiant’s submission guidelines here.
Page Two’s founders, Jesse Finkelstein and Trena White, have a combined 40 years of experience in the publishing industry. Started in 2013 in Vancouver, BC, Page Two focuses on publishing great non-fiction works and helping non-fiction authors get all they can out of publication. Dedicated to providing their clients with a significant level of creative control, the publishers promise a fast path to market for their authors’ books.
Page Two offers a variety of self-help and instructional trade non-fiction to a variety of demographics. Recent publications include Leslie Ehm’s Swagger: Unleash Everything You Are and Everything You Want to Become and Eric Siu’s Leveling Up: How to Master the Game of Life.
Indian Ink started its press 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.” It is currently accepting submissions for literary fiction, trade fiction, and creative non-fiction manuscripts from emerging and established authors.
It’s always exciting when a new Canadian publisher starts its presses. With such a broad mandate and dedication to literary voices, Indian Ink’s forthcoming catalogue is definitely one to keep an eye on.
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. Its four core values — diversity, equality, tolerance, and female empowerment — inform the types of titles they publish. Emerging and established authors interested in submitting work to Rebel Mountain for publication should first take a look at the submission guidelines, which include information about what type of material the press is currently looking for.
Founded in 2014, Edmonton-based Stonehouse Publishing prints a variety of literary and trade fiction. Focusing specifically on historical fiction, Stonehouse offers three distinct lines of publication: “Originals,” “Classics,” and “Gothic.” The “Originals” imprint offers Canadian literature by new and established authors, “Classics” offers a range of classic literature, and “Gothic” offers readers classic or modern titles with a Gothic flair.
Lady Franklin of Russell Square by Erika Behrisch Elce and My Brother Chuck by Andrew Evans were both published under the “Originals” line in 2018, the former having been a finalist in the Trade Fiction category for the 2019 Book Publishers Association of Alberta Award. Heading up the “Classics” line in 2018 was The Poor Clare by Elizabeth Gaskell along with Evelina by Frances Burney.
Submissions are always welcome at Stonehouse but make sure you read its submission guidelines before submitting.
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 its particular focus on poetry by and about queer women, Dagger Editions provides a voice to this historically underrepresented group. Take a look at the 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 operating in Montreal for more than a decade, 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 the press as the owner, publisher, and editor of fiction and non-fiction with Doug Whiteway acting as its mystery book editor.
Since Signature Editions regularly publishes work by first-time authors, interested authors should review Signature’s submission guidelines. Recent publications include Louise Carson’s novel The Cat Possessed as well as the poetry collection entitled The Trailer by James Scoles.
The above presses are only a few in a growing list of independent Canadian publishers set on providing a good product for their readers, crafting high-quality books, and offering readers amazing titles by underrepresented Canadian literary voices.
Emerging authors never know where they might find the right publishing fit for their literary debut, but with independent publishers from coast to coast to coast seeking submissions of all kinds, there are plenty of doors to knock on.
Smaller independent presses can offer things large publishers can’t, such as a handmade touch or the ability to take a chance on aspiring authors with interesting and unique stories to tell. And, since all of the above publishers are currently accepting submissions from the public, you may just see your own name in one of their catalogues someday.
So, whether you’ve submitted to publishers in the past with no luck or if you’re still preparing your initial submission package, this list of indie publishers gives you some great options. Go for it, and good luck!
Michael Bedford is a freelance editor, copywriter, and performer living in Stoney Creek, Ontario. He can be reached at https://mgb-editor.com/.