Where Unagented Writers Can Directly Submit Picture Books
(and other kidlit manuscripts…but mainly PB focused)
I’ve authored 16 books without an agent. I’m now actively pursuing one, given the tighter and more competitive climate, but am still pitching solo. It’s not impossible, and I know many other kidlit authors/illustrators that are staying commando. Wait, I mean rogue. Agentless? You know what I mean.
But as I get ready to submit my next round of picture books, I see more and more publishers that USED to be open to submissions are either closed and now agent only, are at capacity and temporarily closed until further notice, or sadly have shuttered down completely. Some have been bought out by larger houses so their policies have changed, some are simply catching up from 2020 and are temporarily overwhelmed.
What that means to me is that aaalll those great lists of picture book publishers I’ve bookmarked and found sooo helpful are now outdated, and a bit frustrating since I have to re-research every link.
Since I’ve been living this research for the past six months, I’m sharing with you all the current info on open publishing houses that I have garnered, so you’re not pulling out as much hair as I have (and perhaps spewing fewer bad words). I’ve spent hours/days/weeks on this list, and I hope you find it as helpful a resource as I do. I refer to it constantly. You’ll notice many are small presses–but by no means lesser. (It makes sense, right? Larger houses are more well-known so more people submit to them, almost forcing them to go agent only. There are only so many hours in a day to open pitch emails.)
I found over 60–strike that–now over 75–open presses, listed below. I tried to include a little detail on each, to avoid you getting excited and clicking the link only to find out they don’t want what you’re having. And okay, sure, maybe the detail is there to remind ME all that stuff so I’m not re-clicking every two days…
I’ve only included mainstream traditional houses, mainly based in the U.S., with the thought they offer the greatest chance of acceptance. Niche such as those accept only stories about folklore or agriculture, specific religion or culture, for example, I haven’t included, since you’ll want/need to do your own targeted research on those. (If it was specific-ish yet still wider sweeping, like “science and math” or “the general Southern region” I kept it, since there are plenty of ways that can go.) Any press that felt too small, such as 1-2 book titles a year or only have a handful of books total, or felt too focused on one author/illo, or hasn’t posted a new release in the past few years, or hasn’t recently updated their website, I didn’t include, as I figured odds were suuuper low there. I purposely did not include any hybrid publishers as that’s a whole other kettle o’ fish.
I decided to add a section at the bottom for houses that are open have a specific open window each year; keep your eye on social media for those kinds of opps and by all means let me know if you hear of any.
Please know it is not 100% comprehensive, it’s just my personal research. It’s not a slight to any house not listed; it’s simply ROI/math as I know how hard it is to put yourself out there and I want to give us the best odds. But on the plus side, I found and included some presses that are BRAND NEW, and several that are not found in anyone else’s list.Continue reading