Are you a South African writer who has just written a manuscript and are now in search for a publisher for your book?
Below we’ve featured 9 top book publishing companies in South Africa.
For each publisher, we’ve given an overview of the types of books it publishes and have made clear whether a publisher is currently open to submissions, or not.
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Formed from the merging of Random House Penguin Books South Africa and Random House Struik in 2015, Penguin Random House South Africa publishes general fiction, literary fiction, illustrated nonfiction, and children’s books. Fiction works are published through Penguin Fiction and Umuzi, two imprints of Penguin Random House South Africa, while nonfiction is published through the Penguin Non-Fiction and Zebra Press imprints. Genres not accepted by Penguin Random House South Africa include Young Adult fiction, short stories, novellas, poetry, religious fiction, works that have been self-published, scripts, science fiction, fantasy and educational works.
A submission to this publisher will require 3 chapters as samples, a synopsis of no more than 1 page and a brief biography. Take a look carefully at its submission guidelines at this page. You don’t need a literary agent to make a submission to Penguin Random House South Africa.
A book publisher in Pretoria, LAPA Uitgewers publishes mainly Afrikaans books and occasionally provides some of its titles in English. LAPA accepts submissions for fiction, nonfiction on a wide range of topics, children’s books and youth books. When it comes to children’s books, this publisher publishes works for various age groups ranging from 0-3 years all the way to 15-18 years.
You can find specific guidelines on how to make a submission for fiction and novels, general nonfiction, cook books, craft books, children’s books and youth books at this page. Do note that LAPA Uitegewers is very selective of the books it publishes and looks for works of the highest quality. Therefore, ensure your book is outstanding in order to increase your chances of getting accepted by this South African book publisher.
With a focus on publishing new African writers, Black Letter Media, which was founded by Duduzile Zamantungwa Mabaso in 2011, produces both print books and ebooks. Black Letter Media publishes authors not only in South Africa, but other African nations such as Zimbabwe, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Nigeria, among others.
If you’re interested in making a submission to Black Letter Media, you need to ensure your book has a narrative for an adult reader audience, makes use of an indigenous African language, either as the main language of the book, or as a feature of your work if it is written in English. This publisher also gives preference to books that are set in an African environment (either real or imagined).
Genres Black Letter Media accepts, includes personal history, speculative fiction, rural fantasy, mythical, romantic horror, among others, including works that don’t fit into any concrete category. Children’s stories centred on Africa are also accepted. Unsolicited manuscripts for poetry, religious/spiritual books, self-help books, and reference books are not accepted. Take a look at the submission guidelines for full details, along with information on how to make a submission.
One of the major book publishers in South Africa of English general books, Jonathan Ball Publishers was formed in 1976 and publishes and distributes books about South African history, current affairs, politics and also some fiction. This organization also acts as an agent for numerous American and British publishing houses, acting as a distributor of their books across South Africa. Famous titles this publisher acts as a distributor for, includes the Harry Potter series and The Lord of the Rings, among others.
If you would like to make a submission to Jonathan Ball Publishers, email submissions are preferred in the first instance, although postal submissions are acceptable. Take a look at here for further details on making a submission. Please ensure you follow the guidelines carefully to avoid your submission being discarded. This publisher usually takes about 2-3 months to respond to proposals submitted by authors.
With an initial focus on Afrikaans books when it was first founded in 1959, these days Human & Rousseau an eminent South African general book publisher based in Cape Town and an imprint of NB Publishers, publishes both books in Afrikaans and English. When it comes to fiction, Human & Rousseau’s focus is on quality popular books, along with children’s books and books for youth aimed at general and mass markets, and to schools as well. With regards to nonfiction, this publisher is known as major publisher of cookbooks and books about new food and lifestyle.
If you’re interested in submitting a fiction or nonfiction manuscript to Human & Rousseau, you can find guidance on how to do so at this page. This publisher has a preference for receiving postal submissions for fiction, and either post or email for nonfiction.
Wits University Press is the publishing house of The University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and publishes unique books that are well-grounded in research for both academic and general readerships. Genres Wits University Press publishes includes, popular science, art and heritage, biographies, history and politics, women’s writing, textbooks and literary studies.
If you’re interested in making a submission to Wits University Press, its process requires you to submit a proposal first. This document would be reviewed by a publishing committee and if your book is chosen for publication, you will be requested for a full manuscript. Take a look at this page to find out what you need to include in your book proposal, so it is in the format required by this university press.
A small independent publishing house, Cover2Cover publishes fiction books for children and young adults. This organization was started in 2011 by Dorothy Dyer Cover2Cover started in 2011. Cover2Cover also has an imprint called Face2Face which publishes memoirs written by inspirational South African individuals.
Please do note this Muizenberg based publisher is currently closed to new submissions.
New Africa Books specialises in publishing educational books and literary books for adults, young adults and children. It has its roots in David Philip Publishers, which was formed in 1971 by the late David Philip and his wife Marie. David Philip Publishers was a renowned independent book publisher in South Africa, famous for publishing Nobel Prize laureates Wole Gordimer and Nadine Goridmer. It was 1999 that David Philip Publishers became New Africa Books through merging with two small publishing houses. Although this Cape Town based publisher is currently not accepting unsolicited manuscripts, it does recommend checking back its submissions page for when this changes.
9. Kwela Books
Kwela Books, another imprint of NB Publishers, is a small publishing house set up in 1994 that specializes in both fiction and non-fiction African writing. With a mission to publish stories that are yet to be told and expanding the extent of literature coming out of South Africa, its authors have gone onto become internationally published ones such as AHM Scholtz, Kgebetli Moele and Achmat Dangor, among many others. It publishes books in both English and Afrikaans.
If you’re interested in making a submission to Kwela Books, do ensure you’ve taken a good look at the titles already in its list to ensure your book is a good fit. When it comes to fiction, this publisher publishes mainly literary fiction, and with nonfiction, it looks for outstanding autobiographies and travel books. Take a look here for further details and to find out how to submit your manuscript to Kwela Books.
Do you know any other book publishing companies in South Africa? Please tell us about them in the comments box below!
Hiten Vyas is the Founder and Managing Editor of Writing Tips Oasis.