10 Imprints of Big 5 Publishers That Accept Unsolicited Submissions

Written by Emily Harstone

Getting published by one of the big five publishers (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster) might seem impossible without an agent, but it is not.

Most of these publishers have an imprint that accepts unsolicited submissions or queries. These imprints are sometimes very specific in terms of what genre they publish, others are very broad.

Some are print and many are digital-first. In most cases, digital-first  means they publish an eBook version. If it does well, they follow it up with a traditional print run.

I have removed from this list any digital-first imprint of a top five publisher that has been closed to direct submissions for over a year. They may re-open to submissions at some point, but it seems increasingly unlikely. I think the big five went into digital-first under-prepared, as most of the imprints appeared not to have made it.

Not all of the imprints are currently open to submissions at this time, but all have plans to re-open.

The great thing about being published by one of the big five is they have more design, marketing, and editing expertise than most other publishers open to unsolicited submissions.

Publishing with one of these imprints is a great way to get your foot in the door.


Versify, a new imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, is accepting submissions via email. Versify was started by the Newberry Award winning author Kwame Alexander, who you can learn more about here. The goal of Versify is to publish risky, unconventional books for children. They are looking for novels, nonfiction, picture books, and graphic novels. They also are probably the only imprint of Houghton Mifflin that has a Tumblr.

SMP Swerve

St Martin’s Press is an imprint of Macmillan. SMP Swerve is the digital-first romance publishing imprint of St Martin’s. SMP Swerve is open to all sub-genres of romance. The length of your manuscript must be between 25,000 and 100,000 words.

Forever Yours

Forever is the romance imprint of Grand Central Publishing. Grand Central Publishing is the imprint of the Hachette Book Group. Forever Yours is the digital sister of Forever, they focus on publishing un agented authors, and often publish authors without a publication history. They publish eBooks, but they have an option to print on demand any book over 50,000 words in length.


Tor/Forge publishes science fiction and fantasy books. Run by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, Tor/Forge is an imprint of Macmillan, one of the big five publishers. Tor is one of the most established science fiction publishers and they have won the Locus Award for best SF publisher many years in a row. They offer advances.

Avon Impulse

Avon Romance is a romance imprint of HarperCollins. Avon Impulse is their digital-first imprint and they publish primarily new authors because of this. If your book does well in terms of digital sales and it is over 25,000 words in length, it will receive a print run and receive good distribution. Books that receive a print run are officially published by Avon Romance for the print edition (and not Impulse).

Avon UK

Avon UK has a separate digital imprint that is open to emailed submissions.


Harlequin is easily the most famous romance-only publisher out there. In fact, their name was synonymous with romance novels when I was growing up. They have wide distribution, from grocery stores to bookstores. They are everywhere. A few years ago HarperCollins purchased the company.

Carina Press

Carina Press is Harlequin’s digital-first adult fiction imprint, publishing first in digital, and then depending on the numbers releasing audio and print versions as well. Unlike most of Harlequin’s imprints, they don’t just focus on romance, although they are open to all subgenres of romance, including contemporary, paranormal, LGBTQ+, and science fiction. They also publish mysteries of all flavors—from cozies to thrillers, with and without romantic elements. They, like Harlequin, are owned by HarperCollins


DAW is an imprint of Penguin that is open to manuscript submissions from authors without an agent. DAW is a highly respected publisher of Science Fiction and Fantasy. DAW has published authors such as Marion Zimmer Bradley and Roger Zelazny. DAW has published many bestselling books and they have published Hugo award winning books. So they are respected and popular.


WorthyKids/Ideals publishes fiction and nonfiction board books, novelty books, and picture books for children from birth through the age of 8. In September 2018 they were purchased by Hachette. The subjects they are interested in publishing are primarily inspiration/faith, relationships and values, general fiction, American patriotism, and holidays, particularly Easter and Christmas.

Bio: Emily Harstone is the pen name of an author whose work has been published internationally by a number of respected journals. She is a professional submissions adviser. You can follow her on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/emilyharstone/


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