Publishing, Translated fiction, Uncategorized

21 Approachable Publishers of Literary Fiction & Translation

If there’s one group of people who have already perfected the art of ‘social distancing’, it’s publishers. Like the endangered Ribbon-tailed Astrapias of Papua New Guinea, a publisher would much prefer isolation foraging in its native jungle habitat than having to deal with unknown authors. Writers, in their view, are the moral equivalent of blood-sucking poachers who will wring their necks and wear their beaks as nose rings.  

 

 

After a week of trawling through inhospitable websites/jungles, I’ve noticed some patterns in this avoidant behavior. The biggest publishers don’t even bother mentioning submissions. When they see you coming, they fly to the highest tree top where you have no way of reaching them without abseiling equipment and a flight suit. Mid-level publishers can’t quite reach those tranquil heights so they use a different strategy; they lead you away from the nest with a series of clever feints. First, they make you to scroll to the bottom of the home page to find a ‘contact us’ link (in the tiniest possible font size, in the faintest feasible color). Once you’ve clicked that link, you scroll to the bottom of the contacts page, down, down, down past all the people the publisher would rather to talk to: readers, booksellers, publicity professionals, lawyers, undertakers… finally, at the bottom of that page you will see a message addressed to you: “RarissimaAvis does not accept unsolicited submissions. Any unsolicited manuscripts, proposals or query letters that we receive will not be returned, and RarissimaAvis is not responsible for any materials submitted,” which is publishing legalese for ‘Bog off bumface’. But then there are the smaller, more sociable niche publishers—the litter-inhabiting wrens—who provide detailed submissions requirements, with the caveat that they only have five staff and millions of manuscripts coming in every minute and can only publish half a book a year and please don’t fax or email them and also they can’t reply to anyone and can’t really justify the cost of reading a single paragraph of your blather.

Such is the sorry state of affairs, and no wonder writers are sad.

 

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Ordinarily, self-publishing seems like a better bet. If I were looking to publish my own work, I’d skip the middle man and toddle over to Smashwords, where my memoir about Saudi living Teacher, We Girls! is simmering along nicely with more than 50 sales! However, at the moment I’m sitting on a hot bet—a translation the Sizzlingest Socialist Comedy of the Decade—and feel that if only I can get close enough to one of these secretive publishing birds I should be able to lure it off its branch long enough to gmake friends and let me into its special flock.

To wit, here are 20 of the less-shy publishers of literary fiction and translation. This list is not just for writers and translators, either, but readers who want to find a source of literature in translation. I was a little shocked to learn recently that translation is only 3% of annual publishing in the USA. Considering how quickly a virus can travel around the world, it seems a shame that the riches of global literature are still so inaccessible.

 

1. And Other Stories 

Est.:  2009

Who they are: A crowd-funded publisher of contemporary writing.

What they want: Literary fiction; translations of fiction of the past 40 years; narrative non-fiction.

Where they are:  Sheffield

Books: Endland by Tim Etchells, The Taiga Syndrome by Christina Rivera Garza (translated by Suzanne Jill Levine and Aviva Kana) and Proleterka by Fleur Jaeggy (translated by Alistair McEwen) 

How to submit: Details here.

Notes: They provide Ros Schwartz’s excellent guidelines for translators submitting a book proposal.

 

2. Arcade Publishing  

Est.  2010

What they want: Fiction and literary nonfiction

Where they are:  North America

Star books: The Imaginary Girlfriend by John Irving , Thine is the Kingdom by Abilio Estévez and The Good Works of Ayela Linde: A Novel in Stories by Charlotte Forbes

How to submit: Detailed instructions here

Notes: They promise to respond, if interested, within the lightning fast time of 4-6 weeks.

 

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3. Archipelago Books   

Est.  2003

What they want:  Translations of contemporary and classic world literature.

Where they are: Brooklyn, NY

Books: A Kitchen in the Corner of the House by Ambai (C.S. Lakshmi) translated from Tamil by Lakshmi Holmström, The Flying Creatures of Fra. Angelico by Antonio Tabucchi translated from Italian by Tim Parks and Our Lady of the Nile by Scholastique Mukasonga translated from French by Melanie Mauthner.

How to submit: Send a query to info@archipelagobooks.org .

Notes:  To be honest, I’m not 100% sure they’re accepting unsolicited submissions but I like their stuff so decided to mention them anyway.

 

ambai

 

4. Arsenal Pulp Press  

What they want: literary fiction, works in translation and lots of other genres including cookbooks.

Where they are:  Vancouver, Canada

Books: The Walking Boy by Lydia Kwa, There Has to Be a Knife by Adnan Khan and Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi

How to submit: Details here.

Notes:  They accept submissions by snail mail only and try to respond within 6 months

 

5. Atlas Press   

Est.: 1983

What they want: ‘Anti-tradition’ literature that embraces experiment and dissent

Where they are: The UK

Books: Aurora by Michel Leiris, The Punishments of Hell by Robert Desnos translated by Natasha Lehrer and Chris Allen (verse) and The Sixth Sense by Konrad Bayer

How to submit: editor@atlaspress.co.uk 

Note:  They do not publish previously unknown authors but are open to suggestions for translations of well known works in other languages. The backlist is very niche–you’d basically have to be a furry cup to fit in. 

 

The_White_Tiger

 

6. Atlantic Books

Est.: 2000

What they want: Novels, extensive partials [whatever they are] or short stories

Where they are: Bloomsbury

Books: White Tiger by Aravid Adiga, Damascus by Christos Tsiolkas, Consensual Hex by Amanda Harlowe, Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

How to submit: fictionsubmissions@atlantic-books.co.uk

Notes: Powerful publicity machine! 

 

 

7. Biblioasis 

What they want: Fiction originally in English or translated into it, non-fiction, poetry

Where they are:  Windsor, Ontario in Canada

Books: Granma 19 and the Soviet’s Secret by Ondjaki and translated from Portuguese by Stephen Henighan, Madame Victoria by Catherine Leroux and He Wants by Alison Moore.

How to submit: contact info@biblioasis.com but read the guidelines first 

 

ondjaki 

 

8. Coach House Books  

Est.: 1965

What they want:  poetry, literary fiction, drama and select nonfiction

Where they are: Ontario, Canada

Books: The Pine Islands by Marion Poschmann translated by Jen Calleja, The Imago Stage by Karoline Georges translated by Rhonda Mullins and Splitsville by Howard Akler

How to submit: Details here 

Notes: A very small press that mainly publishes works about Canada or by Canadian authors because it is subsidized by Canada Council for the Arts.

 

9. Coffee House Press  

Est.: 1972

What they want: literary novels, full-length short story collections, poetry, creative nonfiction

Where they are:  Minneapolis, USA

Books: Indecency by Justin Phillip Reed, The Remainder by Alia Trabucco Zerán translated by Sophie Hughes and Reinhardt’s Garden by Mark Haber

How to submit: Details here

Note: They don’t accept manuscripts ALL the time (Heaven forfend!) but occasionally conduct periodic reading sessions so follow them on social media to find out when the next one is.

 

reinhardt

 

10. Comma Press 

Est.: 2012

What they want: Short stories and fiction in translation by new and established authors

Where they are: Manchester, UK

Books: The Iraqi Christ by Hassan Blasim, Palestine +100 [a collection of science fiction

short stories by Palestinian authors] and The Sea Cloak & Other Stories  by Nayrouz Qarmout translated by Perween Richards.

How to submit: It will be 18 months before they start considering single-author collections again, but you can enter their competitions or anthologies in the meantime. Contact sarah.cleave@commapress.co.uk for questions.

Notes: They are especially interested in translations from smaller regional and minority languages.

 

sea cloak

 

11. Dedalus Books 

Est.: 1983

What they want: Translations of European literature, especially the bizarre or surreal mixed with intellectual fiction

Where they are: Cambridgeshire, UK

Books: The Dedalus Book of Polish Fantasy edited by Wiesiek Powaga, The Arabian Nightmare by Robert Irwin and Days of Anger by Sylvie Germain.

How to submit: They prefer submissions by post: “3 sample chapters, a letter about the author and SAE if anything is to be returned.”

Notes: They publish 1-3 books per year. Email info@dedalusbooks.com with questions.

 

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Sylvie Germaine

 

 

12. Deep Vellum Publishing  

What they want: contemporary fiction, narrative nonfiction, poetry, translations.

Where they are: Dallas, Texas, USA

Books: El poemario del colibrí The Hummingbird Poems by Edyka Chilomé , Girls Lost by Jessica Schiefauer translated by Saskia Vogel and Life Went On Anyway by Oleg Sentsov 

How to submit: apply to Will Evans will@deepvellum.org

Notes: They especially want writers from Texas or writing about Texas.

 

oleg-1
Oleg Sentsov

 

13. Dzanc 

Est.: 2006

What they want: daring (wait, no, not THAT daring!) literary fiction

Where they are: Detroit, Michigan, USA

Books: Darkansas by Jarret Middleton, The Australian by Emma Smith-Stevens and Like a Woman by Deb Busman. 

How to submit: Submit using their ‘submittable’ form for submissions. For questions please contact michelle@dzancbooks.org

Notes: In 2019 Dzanc cancelled publication of The Siege of Tel Aviv by Hesh Kestin after allegations that it was Islamophobic.

 

14. Feminist Press  

Est.: 1970

What they want:  fiction, nonfiction

Where they are: New York

Books: Arid Dreams by Duanwad Pimwana translated by Mui Poopoksakul,  Fiebre Tropical by Juli Delgado Lopera and Mars by Asja Bakiç translated by Jennifer Zoble

How to submit: Details here.They prefer digital proposals in pdf. format and only look at completed manuscripts.

Notes: Founded by Florence Howe, a leader of the modern feminist movement.

 

mars

 

15. Guernica  

Est.: 1978

What they want: Literary fiction and translations

Where they are: Ontario, Canada

Books: Lucia’s Eyes and Other Stories by Marina Sonkina, Sex Therapy by Mary Melfi and Itzel I: A Tlatelolco Awakening by Sarah Xerar Murphy 

How to submit: Email queries or manuscripts to michaelmirolla@guernicaeditions.com. They only accept ms submissions between January 1 and April 30.

Note: It may take 6-8 months to get a response.

 

16. Knopf   

Est.: 1915

What they want: Literary fiction, translated fiction

Where they are: New York, New York, New York

Books: Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips, Exhalation by Ted Chiang and Weather by Jenny Offil. 

How to submit: Knopf usually only accepts mss from agents. You might have a snowball’s chance on a chilly day in Hell, though, so why not try? Just send 25-50 pages and a stamped, self-addressed envelope to THE EDITORS/Knopf/1745 Broadway/New York/NY 10019.

Notes: It will take them a year to get back to you, IF AT ALL.

 

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It’s got cake in it.

 

17. New Vessel Press  

Est.: 2012

What they want: Literary translations, fiction, narrative nonfiction

Where they are: New York

Books: I Belong to Vienna by Anna Goldenberg translated by Alta L. Price  Sleepless Night by Margriet de Moor translated by David Doherty and What’s Left of the Night by Ersi Sotiropoulos

How to submit: info@newvesselpress.com

 

18. Open Letter  

What they want: Contemporary literature (for adults) from around the world that is unique and that ‘will have a significant impact on world literary conversation’.

Where they are: Rochester, New York, USA

Books: The Brahmadells by Jóanes Nielson translated from Faroese by Kerri A. Pierce, The Smoke of Distant Fires by Eduardo Chirinos and To Hell with Cronjé by Ingrid Winterbach.

How to submit: Details here; complete manuscripts are preferred.

Notes: This is University of Rochester’s literary translation press. It publishes 10 books per year. Their website is called Three Percent because only 3% of all books published in the USA per year are literary translations. SAD FACE

 

large_796_TheManWhoKilledDurruti

 

19. PM Press 

Est.: 2007

What they want: Books by radical authors and activists.

Where they are: Oakland, CA, USA

Books: A City Made of Words by Paul Park, Fire by Elizabeth Hand and The Man who Killed Durruti by Pedro de Paz 

How to submit: Use this formatting guide, follow their careful directions here and then send to submissions@pmpress.org. Wait 2+ months.

Notes: They are more or less booked for two years, but will still might possibly have a look at some new stuff, though it’s not bloody likely.

 

Birth_strike_cover_final
Best book of 2019 from PM Press!

 

20. Seven Stories Press 

Est.: 1995

What they want: political guff, fiction, poetry

Where they are: New York, NY

Books: Babylon by Yasmina Reza,  They Hanged by Saintly Billy by Robert Graves and Darwin’s Ghosts by Ariel Dorfman 

How to submit: Send a cover letter and 2 chapters to Acquisitions/Seven Stories Press/140 Watts Street/New York, NY 10013/USA

 

cuban
It’s got a parrot.

 

21. The Unnamed Press  

Est.:  2014

What they want: Literature from around the world

Where they are: Los Angeles

Books: Vagablonde by Anna Dorn, The Cuban Comedy by Pablo Medina and  Mother of All Pigs by Malu Halasa 

How to submit: Send your work to info@unnamedpress.com

 

pigs

2 thoughts on “21 Approachable Publishers of Literary Fiction & Translation”

  1. I feel your pain!!! Thanks for this list. I think they want all writers to hire agents. I’m still looking for a home for Craggie. Big sigh. Hope you can find a publisher. And John? But as you say it’s mostly like a snowball’s chance on a chilly day in hell.

    1. Thanks. Yes, it is uphill work all right! Craggie needs to see the light of day–it’s a wonderful book. John has a pretty good publisher–Feral House published his Iliad and he has another book in the works for them. So it CAN happen!!

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