7 Graphic Novel Publishers Accepting Manuscripts Directly From Writers
Graphic novels, or as they were formerly known, comics, have always been popular among teens. But the publication of Maus, Persepolis, Watchmen, and other contemporary graphic novels has launched this medium as a literary genre of its own.
Tie-ins and film productions based on comic book heroes have driven this genre into the lucrative mainstream, nonetheless, the alternative comic tradition still invites creative thinking and imaginative writing. Some of the biggest names in the graphic novel industry welcome submissions.
As always, read the publisher’s submission guidelines very carefully before submitting.
Drawn & Quarterly is currently the most successful and prominent comics publisher in Canada. It was founded in 1990 by Montreal resident, Chris Oliveros, who was only 23 at the time. Drawn & Quarterly has a strong reputation in the comics community and its anthologies have won a number of Harvey Awards. The publisher has a reputation for the quality of the books it publishes, both in terms of content as well as the books’ paper, binding and design.
Submissions: “Drawn & Quarterly welcomes submissions for consideration in a number of our publishing venues. We have a seasonal selection of general graphic novels, strip collections, and children’s focused publications. We do not review scripts.” Electronic submissions accepted. See full guidelines here.
Top Shelf Productions is an American publishing company founded in 1997, owned and operated by Chris Staros and Brett Warnock. The company is based in Marietta, Georgia, Portland, Oregon, and New York City, New York. Top Shelf publishes comics and graphic novels by authors such as Alan Moore, Craig Thompson, James Kochalka, Andy Runton, Jeffrey Brown, Nate Powell, Alex Robinson, Jeff Lemire, and Matt Kindt.
Submissions: “Regarding submissions, we’re easy. Just send us a xerox copy of what you’d like us to look at (or a URL link), and enough postage if you want the materials returned to you. Just please do not attach and send image files to our email addresses. Also, we cannot accept scripts or plot synopses, unless they are accompanied by a minimum of 10–20 completed pages (i.e., fully inked and lettered comic book pages). We prefer to respond via email, so be sure to include your email address with your submission.” Read full guidelines here.
Dark Horse Comics was founded in 1986 by Mike Richardson in Milwaukie, Oregon, with the concept of establishing an ideal atmosphere for creative professionals. Dark Horse publishes many licensed comics, including comics based on Star Wars, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Aliens, Predator, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Conan and Who Wants to be a Superhero? Dark Horse also publishes creator owned comics such as Frank Miller’s Sin City, Mike Mignola’s Hellboy, Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo, Gerard Way’s Umbrella Academy, and Michael Chabon’s The Escapist.
Submissions: “Dark Horse still welcomes your submissions, and all submissions will still be reviewed, just as they always have been. The only difference is that submissions can no longer be mailed back to the sender. The reason for this change in policy has primarily to do with the growing number of submissions; Dark Horse simply does not have the resources necessary to respond individually to each submission. Submitted samples are often kept on file for future reference, but only those creators for whom Dark Horse has immediate work will be contacted.” Dark Horse requires a signed submission agreement. View full guidelines here.
Image Comics is an American comic book publisher. It was founded in 1992 by high-profile illustrators as a venue where creators could publish their material without giving up the copyrights to the characters they created, as creator-owned properties. It was immediately successful, and remains one of the largest comic book publishers in North America.
Submissions: “Image Comics only publishes creator-owned material! In other words, we want to publish YOUR comics — we aren’t looking to have you work on books that WE dream up. When you’re submitting stuff to us at the home office, we expect it to be something original, not something utilizing existing Image characters. Image Comics accepts only PROPOSALS for new comic series or graphic novels, etc. WE DO NOT ACCEPT writing (that is plots, scripts, whatever) samples! If you’re an established pro, we might be able to find somebody willing to work with you but it would be nearly impossible for us to read through every script that might find its way our direction. DO NOT SEND your script or your plot unaccompanied by art — it will be discarded, unread.” Read full guidelines here.
Titan Publishing Group is an independently owned British publishing company, established in 1981.The books division has two main areas of publishing: film and television tie-ins, and cinema reference books; and graphic novels and comics references and art titles. The company is a division of Titan Entertainment Group, which also owns Titan Magazines. The company has a backlist of over 1,000 graphic novels.
Submissions: “The majority of our graphic novel titles are licensed from overseas publishers or acquired through agents. We do however publish a growing number of originated graphic novels. We run portfolio sessions at comic conventions where your work may be reviewed. We are interested to hear from writers and artists who would be interested in working on licensed projects we have already contracted. Please send initially a brief synopsis and covering letter only, not a full manuscript.” Read full guidelines here.
Archaia Entertainment, LLC is an American comic book publishing company established by Mark Smylie in 2002. Mark Smylie formed the company as a home for his comic Artesia because the publisher, Sirius Entertainment, wanted to print the third series in black and white. He realized he might as well publish other titles and early titles included Mouse Guard, Robotika and The Lone and Level Sands.
Submissions: “Submissions for graphic novels are more than welcome, and we will be looking for works that enthrall and excite us, that strike us as having a unique take or perspective on a medium, story, character, or genre. While we’ve primarily published works in the adventure, fantasy, horror, pulp noir and science fiction genres, we are interested in passion projects, works that are driven by a creator’s unique vision and voice, and so authors are invited to submit works of any genre to us. For graphic novel creators, please note that Archaia does not generally put creative teams together for creator-owned titles (i.e., we do not pair writers with artists), so submissions should only be for book and series proposals that have finished art pages already available.” Read full guidelines here.
Fantagraphics Books is an American publisher of alternative comics, classic comic strip anthologies, magazines, graphic novels, and the adult-oriented Eros Comix imprint. Many notable cartoonists publish their work through Fantagraphics, including Jessica Abel, Peter Bagge, Ivan Brunetti, Charles Burns, Daniel Clowes, Roberta Gregory, Joe Sacco, Chris Ware, and Gilbert Hernandez and Jaime Hernandez aka the Hernandez Brothers.
Submissions: “Fantagraphics Books publishes comics for thinking readers — readers who like to put their minds to work, who have a sophisticated understanding of art and culture, and appreciate personal expression unfettered by uncritical use of cliché. Fantagraphics will practically always reject any submissions that fit neatly into (or combine in a gimmicky fashion) the mainstream genres of superhero, vigilante, horror, fantasy, and science fiction. While some of our publications are suitable for young readers, we do not publish children’s picture books.” Read submission FAQs here.
Erica Verrillo has published five books. She blogs about the publishing world, posts useful tips on how to get an agent, lists agents who are looking for clients as well as publishers accepting manuscripts directly from writers, explains how to market and promote your work, how to build your online platform, how to get reviews, how to self-publish, and where to find markets for your work on Publishing and Other Forms of Insanity.