Urban Fiction: it’s probably one of the most unrated genres out there. If you think about it, there are so many writers with works that could fall into this category.
Yet, not many people embrace it.
Likewise, many publishers and agents shy away from this genre as well. Part of the problem is that Urban Fiction isn’t as widely read as other genres like Romance or Fantasy, and that’s partially due to the fact that its has a much more narrower audience.
Which, as a writer, can make getting published somewhat challenging—challenging, but not impossible. As with any publishing endeavor the key to increasing your odds of getting published is finding the right publisher.
The last thing you want to do is market your book to a mainstream publisher if you’re an urban fiction writer. You’ll be wasting the publisher’s time and your own.
So what do you do? Find a specialty publisher that is interested in urban fiction. Here’s a list of nineteen top urban fiction publishers to help get the ball rolling.
Founded in New York City in 2002, Atria is a company that blends the methods of traditional publishing with the innovations of technology. With authors like Shane Dawson, Theresa Caputo, and Karen Kingsbury, they have a long list of award-winning books and bestsellers on the market. Because they’re interested in books of all genres, they also have more than 6 imprints through which they manage to reach their audience. For instance, Atria Books and Atria Trade Paperbacks are specialized in African-American fiction, among others.
As their parent company, Simon & Schuster has helped numerous urban fiction and street lit authors start their career in the field. Among them we can name Sister Souljah, Omar Tyree, Nikki Turner, and Shannon Holmes. Therefore, their list includes titles like Never Go Home Again, by Shannon Holmes, and The Last Street Novel, by Omar Tyree.
Although there are no open calls for submissions at present, you can still check their submissions page for any updates. Once they start looking for new voices again, you can send a completed title information sheet, the first chapter of your work (6,000 words at most), and a short synopsis. In the meantime, you can address your editorial inquiries at AtriaEditorial@SimonandSchuster.com.
For those urban fiction authors that are looking for a publishing house that’s a little more well known, Cartel Publications is a great place to start. Not only is this publishing house known for urban fiction books that tackle darker themes, like murder and violence, but also hit T.V. shows and movies like The Worst of Us. This publisher isn’t located in NYC like so many others, but rather in the small city of Owings Mill, Maryland, making it much more accessible to those authors that would like to discuss things face-to-face.
They are open to submissions when it comes to several imprints: Cartel Publications, for instance, only wants urban stories that have heavy street themes. Still, if you are a writer of urban fiction tales on lesbian, transgender, or gay topics, you can submit them to Color Coded Publications. For the full submission guidelines, click here.
3. Felony Books
Felony Books was founded in 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri, and its main goal is that of publishing high-quality works of hip hop fiction. Their main interest lies in real crime from all around the world, which is why they have already published several bestselling novels on this topic. In order to become familiar with their catalog, you should check out Beside Every Thug: There’s A Dope Girl, by Malik Robbins, Revenge Is Best Served Cold, by J. J. Jackson, and Deception’s Playground, by Kush Lamma. A top 10 of urban fiction works is available on their main page as well.
Besides street lit, Felony Books is also searching for works of horror, mystery, romance, and a few others. Both aspiring and established authors are welcome to submit the first three chapters of their manuscript, along with a synopsis and a cover letter. If you’re looking for the submission guidelines, you can find them here.
Based in Chicago, Illinois, the Third World Press Foundation was established by Haki R. Madhubuti in 1967 with the purpose of providing literature for as many people as possible, and especially for African American readers. Since this is their main audience, it is easy to see why their books focus on themes, issues, and critique regarding African Americans. In their Fiction category, you will find titles such as Miracle and the Fellas, by Angela Jackson, In the Shadow of the Son, by Michael Simanga, and The Brass Bed and Other Stories, by Pearl Cleage.
The foundation only accepts fiction submissions during the month of July every year, so make sure to prepare your manuscript until then. You will have to send a one-page query letter, a synopsis of 8 pages at most, a copy of the first 2 chapters (max. 30 pages) of your work, and a copy of the guidelines.
When it comes to quality, indie publishing, it doesn’t get much better than Akashic Books. Keep in mind that this is a publisher that will be interested in Urban fiction with more of a literary twist and publishes street-lit under its imprint, the Armory. However, the imprint is known for publishing fantastic works like Cake, by D.
Unfortunately, they are closed for submissions at the moment. However, if you would like to work with them, you can check their page for any updates.
One of the most renowned urban fiction publishers, with over 1 million books sold all around the world, Good2Go Publishing has titles available in all kinds of formats, from paperbacks to audio books. A few of the works they have published include The Cost of Betrayal, by Warren Holloway, Childhood Sweethearts: Passion, Love & Loyalty, by Jacob Spears, and Bloody Mayhem Down South, by Trayvon D Jackson. If you want to collaborate with them, you’re in luck, as they are currently open for submissions – the only thing you have to do is to make sure that you also send a cover letter, a chapter outline, and a synopsis. The full guidelines are available here.
St. Martin’s is definitely a much more mainstream publisher that just so happens to also publish street literature (yay!!!). With books by well-known urban lit authors like K’wan, Shannon Holmes and T.N. Baker, St. Martin’s Press is definitely the way to go if you have a unique urban fiction idea that has the potential to do well on the mainstream market. An imprint of Macmillian, however, this publisher does not accept unsolicited manuscripts.
With a name like Street Knowledge Publishing, you can believe that this publishing house specializes in nothing but quality street literature. In fact, it’s home to the most popular street fiction writers today, like Al-Sadiq Banks and Eric B—author of the Eric-b-crime novels. Located in New Castle, this publisher was started by Joseph Jones in 2003, shortly after he was released from prison. He then began using his knowledge of the street to better the literary market.
Located in Baltimore and established in 2005, Art Official Media specializes in everything Urban Fiction. Even better, this publisher also offers distribution, film services, and self-publishing. And it’s all tailored to fit an urban lit market. Not only does the publisher release the magazine “Urbania” but it also has published well-known urban fiction works like The Wire and Nookie.
If you’re really into hip-hop culture and have a neat idea for an urban fiction novel, Augustus Publishing is the way to go. Founded in 2005 by Anthony Whyte, this small publishing house actually features two other imprints that specialize in urban, or street, lit: Vibe Lifestyle books and UPTOWN books. This NYC book publisher is specifically concerned with making urban lit accessible to more readers and is well known for republishing the series Ghetto Girls. Another bestseller the publisher’s produced that actually garnered some attention from Hollywood: Streets of New York.
Augustus Publishing hasn’t been active on social media for a while now, so, if you want to know whether they’re still in operation or not, you can ask them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Established by bestselling author of Thugs & The Women Who Love Them, Wahida Clark, the company is specifically designed for urban fiction authors. Now, this publishing house is home to over 30 authors and a range of works like A Life for a Life, by Mike Jefferies, Feenin’, by Sereniti Hall, and The Game of Deception, by Victor L. Martin. Most of the titles published under this house focus on themes like crime and sexuality.
Unfortunately, they are not open for submissions at the moment. If you want to check for any updates, refresh this page.
Writers that are looking for the boutique atmosphere of a small, professional publisher, but also a publisher that focuses on urban lit, can’t go wrong with Delphine Publications. The Atlanta based publisher is known for producing gripping urban literature novels, with just a hint of melodrama, like Sleeping with One Eye Open, Love on Death Row and Sorority Ties. If you’re a writer that likes to explore themes like love, betrayal, and sex in an urban setting, then Delphine is definitely a publisher you want to consider.
Delphine Publications no longer has an official website, but the “Coming Soon!” message on their platform suggests that it is still in operation. Since the publisher is active on social media, you can address any inquiries there.
With titles like Left for Dead and a Wife’s Betrayal, Life Changing Books is definitely a great space for Urban lit. writers and even many African American writers in general. Located in Brandywine, Maryland, Life Changing Books was established by author Tressa Azarel. Since 2003, the publishing house has grown to house nearly 20 authors and has even published some bestselling novels like The Dirty Divorced Series and Millionaire Mistress.
Due to the fact that Life Changing Books have last updated all of their social media accounts in 2016, the publisher may not be in operation any longer. In order to find out, you can ask them about it here.
One of the best things about the Kensington Publishing Corp is that it publishes almost any kind of genre. Whether your forte is humor, sci-fi or romance, there’s a niche for you at Kensington. For African American writers, there’s a whole a subsection at this New York publisher for you, and A Hustler’s Queen, by Saundra, as well as Saving Her Shadow, by Lutishia Lovely are just two of the titles you will find there. Founded in 1974, this company prides itself on its “independent” spirit—something that really sets it apart when it comes to the kinds of books it releases on the market. If you’re an urban author that’s dedicated to making a dent in the market and would like a real shot, Kensington is the place that can make it happen.
Founded by award winning and bestselling author Michele A. Cameron Fletcher, La’ Femme Fatale Publishing is committed to helping urban fiction authors reach their audience. The publishing house has published works like Concrete Jungle and Veronica Malone’s Life goes on. On top of urban literature, the publishing house has also released Lifestyle, health and fitness guides by some of the world’s most recognized T. V. personalities and journalists, including Laeann Amos and Anita Rincon. Typically the novels published by this house feature an urban setting but focuses on a romantic interest.
La’ Femme Fatale Publishing has not been active on social media in quite a while, so it may no longer be in operation. However, it’s worth a try to ask them about it, as their submissions page shows they are still searching for new talents.
When it comes to quality, professionalism and finesse in the street fiction market, it doesn’t get much better than Royalty Publishing House. Created by CEO and bestselling author Porscha Sterling in 2014, this publisher, located in Atlanta, publishes both Ebooks and paperbacks. The urban fiction featured at this publishing house typically follows a love interest while also exploring themes such as wealth, crime and drugs.
However, one of the things that set this publisher apart from other urban literature publishers is the quality of the final product. Book covers and designs are strategically planned to be alluring to readers, while also representative of the books they belong to. But the best part about Royal Publishing House? It’s backed by a significant staff, all working to help create the best final version of your novel possible.
They currently accept submissions from both established and aspiring urban romance writers, so feel free to consult their submission guidelines. Among others, you will have to send the title, a synopsis, and the first 15,000 words of the manuscript.
17. Triple Crown Publications
By comparison, Triple Crown Publications is a much more small scale operation and was established in 2001 by author Vickie Stringer, who’s more than familiar with the realities of street life, having served a prison sentence and lived a life of crime. Now, she’s using her knowledge of the streets to not only write books about urban life, but also help others get published. The company is known for mixing the hip-hop genre with literature to create steamy and gripping works like A Hustler’s Son and Flip Side of the Game. Stringer has also published her own guide to the publishing world, designed to help all aspiring urban-lit writers find their niche.
Triple Crown Publications no longer has an official website, so they may be out of operation. If you want to contact them, you can try calling them at +1 614-478-9402.
18. RJ Publications
Among the more striking things about RJ Publications is the range of literature it provides, from romance and erotica to drama and even non-fiction. However, the company is especially well known for its wide selection of street lit, with books like Hood Fellas and The Evil Side of Money. Launched by author Richard Jeanty, the Snellville, Georgia located publisher typically focuses on the more traditional aspects of urban literature, including subjects like violence, crime and drugs.
It appears that RJ Publications does not have any active social media accounts, so they may be out of operation. For more information regarding this matter, you can contact them online.
When it comes down to it, some the best of the mainstream urban literature features a whole lot of drama, and Melodrama Publishing sure isn’t about to start downplaying that fact. Founded by Crystal Lacey Winslow in 2001, this is a publishing company best suited to the writer that likes to add to their reader’s lives. With title like Rise of An American Gangstress, by Kim K., this New York publication is far from boring. Books that this publisher is interested in typically revolve around strong female characters, wealth, and sexuality, but not exclusively.
Since there are no submission guidelines displayed on their website, you should contact them before sending any manuscript.
All in all, finding the right publisher for an urban lit novel is all about taking the time to go the extra mile and read a little more about the publisher. Here’s the key takeaway to keep in mind: even if a publisher produces urban literature, that doesn’t automatically make them the right fit for your book.
Ideally, you don’t just want to find a publisher that publishes urban lit. Instead you want to also focus on finding a publisher that can publish the same type of urban literature you enjoy writing. The last thing you want to do as a writer is to market a more mainstream urban literature book to a more literary slanted agency. Likewise, if you send your literary urban lit. novel to a hip-hop press, you’ll be less likely to get a response (or at least the response you want to hear) back.
However, with a range of publishers to choose from that specializes in urban lit., the possibilities are endless. So keep on writing your street lit. novel and don’t settle for a publisher that’s anything short of amazing.
As a graduate from the University of Arizona in English and Creative Writing, Rofida Khairalla’s love for classical literature and post-modern fiction extends beyond the realm of books. She has provided her services independently as a freelance writer, and wrote on the news desk for the student-run newspaper, The Daily Wildcat. As an aspiring children’s book author, she’s refined her craft amongst the grand saguaros of the Southwest, and enjoys playing with her German Shepherd on the slopes of Mount Lemmon.