There are many advantages to being published by a small or independent press. Importantly, they are more likely to publish a first book (often times without an agent). As an author, you typically have more control over the final product with a small press, whereas at large houses often you have little or no say on the title, cover, or even editorial decisions. Small presses also publish fewer books per year than big houses so each book they produce gets a lot of attention. Small presses, as a rule, are typically more concerned with the quality of writing than with marketability, therefore they tend to put out books that wouldn’t get attention from commercial sources.
There are many sources for lists of small presses. Here are a few sources for listings of well-known presses to get you started. Each press has its own guidelines and constraints, so check submission guidelines carefully. Don’t forget, whether you are looking for a small press, an agent, or an editor, the first and most important step is to familiarize yourself with their work. Look at their book lists and read some of their books, you can tell tastes and preferences pretty quickly. This is the best way to find a press that is right for you and to avoid sending queries to presses that wouldn’t be interested in your work.
The CLMP (Council of Literary Magazines and Presses) offers a comprehensive annual directory available from Amazon (this is a “must-have” in the experts’ opinions!).
Helpful Links & Other Writers’ Support Resources
CLMP – website & FAQ
Duotrope – poetry/fiction publication database
NYS Littree – online directory of small presses
Poets & Writers Small Presses – online listing
Top 10 Small Literary Magazines and Journals
Comprehensive Database of Literary Journals and Magazines
Poets’ Writing & Publishing FAQ
American Society of Journalists & Authors