Are you author who lives in California?
Have you written a book and want to get it published by a book publisher close by to you?
Below you’ll find 5 top book publishing houses in San Francisco.
Founded by Peter D. Martin and Lawrence Ferlinghetti in 1953, City Lights started out as an independent bookstore that quickly became popular among artists during the beat generation. In 1955, they began publishing books in addition to selling them. Today, City Lights Bookstore is considered one of San Francisco’s literary landmarks and a popular destination for tourists and avid readers. When you visit, you will be greeted by three floors of books across different genres—not only from major publishing houses, but from smaller independent publishers as well.
Since its founding, City Lights has published over 200 titles, from fiction and poetry, to memoirs and non-fiction. They also publish literary translations, as well as books with socio-political and cultural themes. One of the things City Lights Publishers is most respected for is the way they embrace progressive ideas while resisting conservatism and censorship.
Publishing 12 to 16 titles on an annual basis, City Lights welcomes year-round submissions in the form of book proposals. If you’re interested in submitting your work for their consideration, you can find their submission guidelines and instructions here.
2. Aunt Lute
Based in San Francisco, Aunt Lute is a non-profit press that publishes literature for and by women. Aunt Lute was founded in 1982 by Joan Pinkvoss and Barb Wieser, who were both saddened by the underrepresentation of lesbians and women of color in mainstream publishing. In 1986, Aunt Lute partnered with Spinsters Ink, a small lesbian press, and operated under the name Spinsters/Aunt Lute. Four years later, Aunt Lute became a separate non-profit and has since helped nurture the careers of women from different cultures. Some of the well-known feminist authors Aunt Lute has worked with over the years include Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, Gloria Anzaldua, and Paula Gunn Allen. Until today, Aunt Lute remains committed to amplifying the voices of both cisgender and transgender women from different cultures.
As a multicultural women’s press, Aunt Lute welcomes the submission of manuscripts written by women from different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. Aunt Lute accepts both fiction and non-fiction work, but poetry may only be submitted as part of an anthology or a larger body of work. First-time women authors who have not had any luck with mainstream publishing houses are encouraged to submit. If you are interested in working with the Aunt Lute team, you can check out the Submission Guidelines on their website.
A member-supported, non-profit organization, the Book Club of California was founded in 1912. It all began one morning, when Dr. Edward Robeson, John Henry Nash, W.R.K. Young, and James D. Blake came together and approached Charles C. Moore, president of the upcoming Panama-Pacific International Exposition, with the idea of exhibiting locally produced rare books. Moore liked the idea, but he thought the members of the exhibits committee were more likely to approve if the proposal came from an organization instead of just a few individuals. The men then came up with a name for their organization—the Book Club of California. Although the exhibit they had planned never came to fruition, they formally became an organization in December of 1912, and their numbers quickly grew. In 1914, they published their first book, starting a practice that has lasted for more than 100 years.
The Book Club of California primarily publishes scholarly and general interest books in several categories, including literature, art, photography, natural history, and architecture. They are also interested in books about California and the West. In particular, they are drawn to bodies of work that provide a distinct view of California’s rich culture and history.
If you would like to submit your work to the Book Club of California, you can find their submission guidelines and details about their selection process here. They welcome submissions from both new and seasoned authors.
McSweeney’s is a San Francisco-based publishing company that champions unconventional and ambitious writing, while challenging expectations of what literature should look like. Founded in 1998 by Dave Eggers, McSweeney’s originally had only one publication—Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern. But it has since expanded its operations and now publishes other periodicals, novels, poetry collections, children’s books, and more. Over the years, McSweeney’s has helped foster the careers of many emerging authors, as well as established authors like Stephen King, Nick Hornby, David Foster Wallace, and George Saunders. Aside from operating a successful publishing house, McSweeney’s also runs a literature and humor website called McSweeney’s Internet Tendencies. It is also behind the DVD magazine Wholphin, the food journal Lucky Peach, and the print magazine The Believer.
Known for its eclectic selection of journals, books, and multimedia materials, McSweeney’s periodically accepts submissions of finished manuscripts of any length. At the time of this writing, McSweeney’s submission portal is closed, but you may reach them via email for inquiries. You can also visit their website to review their submission guidelines.
No Starch Press was founded by Bill Pollock in 1994. Prior to launching No Starch Press, Pollock worked in the publishing industry for more than 30 years. Under his guidance, No Starch Press has grown to become one of the leading names in “geek entertainment” and has built a reputation for publishing interesting and unique books that educate and inspire. How Linus Works, Python for Kids, and Hacking: The Art of Exploitation are just a few of No Starch Press’ bestselling publications.
No Starch Press is on the hunt for titles that brim with personality and passion, particularly those in the fields of programming, open source, design, system administration, computer security, math, and science. If your work falls under any of these categories, you can send your book proposal to the No Starch Press team via email. Your book proposal should include your book’s summary and outline, as well as your personal goals in writing the book. You can find more detailed information about their submission guidelines and editorial process here.
Are there any other book publishing houses in San Francisco that should be on this list? Please tell us about them in the comments box below!
Hiten Vyas is the Founder and Managing Editor of Writing Tips Oasis.