Digital-First Publishers – Jericho Writers
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Digital-First Publishers

Digital-First Publishers

Have you heard? Innovative digital-first publishers are changing the landscape of the industry. Any savvy writer on the lookout for a way to get their books into the hands of readers would benefit from keeping their eye on this exciting new frontier. We’ve put together everything you need to know about digital-first publishing, including which publishers are accepting submissions.

What is a digital publisher?

A digital publisher is a publisher like any other, but they tend to bring books to market in purely digital formats, like eBooks and audiobooks.

A digital-first publisher works slightly differently. Whilst they tend to prioritise digital formats, they also publish books in physical formats such as hardbacks and paperbacks.

What’s the difference between a digital-first publisher and a traditional publisher?

The clue is in the name! A traditional publisher (like one of the Big Four: Penguin, Hachette, HarperCollins and MacMillan) tend to prioritise publishing a book in a physical format (like a hardback or a paperback) over other formats, though there is usually a variety of formats available for each of their titles titles.

The important word here is prioritise. Ask any published author and they’ll tell you that marketing and publicity can be instrumental in a book’s success. While a traditional publisher might put their efforts into selling physical copies, there are other successful ways publishers sell books.

Digital-first publishers prioritise selling digital formats (which have grown in popularity in recent years, especially in certain genres), this means their business model is slightly different to what a trade publisher usually offers their authors.

There is no one size fits all approach and it’s important for authors to be well-informed of the options available to them.

If we take a step back from the nuts and bolts of the industry’s inner workings, you’ll find that digital-first publishers aren’t that different to traditional publishers! In many cases, pre-conceptions about traditional publishing being the more enticing option for authors are often disproved when talking to digital-first published authors about their experience.

What are the benefits to working with a digital-first publisher?

In short, there are many! If you care about reaching readers, removing barriers that prevent them from getting your book into their hands and the business of book-selling is important to you: digital-first publishing is worth your consideration.

For one, digital-first publishers tend to be more open to unsolicited submissions from un-agented authors. That means you don’t need to be represented by a literary agent to send them your submission! However, many still accept submissions from agents on behalf of their writers. It’s worth noting that a small number of the digital-first publishers we found were only accepting submissions from agents, but this doesn’t seem to be the norm.

To dig deeper into the benefits of working with a digital-first publisher, we thought we’d let author and our very own Head of Membership Becca Day talk about her experience being published by Embla, a digital-first imprint of Bonnier Books. Turns out, one of the main benefits is how their fresh approach invests in their authors’ careers.

‘The digital first strategy focuses on building your audience. My books were listed as 99p eBooks that were FREE for anyone with Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime. That’s a lot of people getting my books for free. But you know what? I still got paid. The way Kindle Unlimited and Prime Reading works is you get paid a (tiny) amount per page read. While the pay per page is tiny, the amount of people you can reach with a publisher who knows what they’re doing is not. Digital first publishers are typically much more ‘on it’ when it comes to advertising, and they have a much bigger budget for advertising because they’re not wasting it on printing costs. My debut has now been read by nearly 1 million people. How NUTS is that? 1 million x a tiny amount = a substantial paycheck.‘ – Becca Day, author of THE SECRETS WE BURIED

But, what if you still want your books to be published in physical formats – and end up in bookshops?

That is an understandable goal, one that many authors share, Becca included. The good news is, Becca’s books are published in multiple formats, including paperback. Let’s hear what she has to say about it…

‘The reason I suggest digital-first publishing to debut authors is because it’s the perfect jumping off point. It’s a way to build your audience and your readership so that when your books do eventually get into bookstores and you do eventually move to that more traditional publishing model (it took me three books to do it, but I got there) you’ll have that audience who know you and are willing to spend the money to get a hard copy.’

And you know what? My books are now in bookstores and I still don’t make nearly as much from paperbacks as I do from eBooks. Not even close. The world is changing.’

These quotes were taken from a blog post Becca wrote about her experience of digital-first publishing, read it in full here.

Vanity Publishers and Hybrid Publishers

We should probably also include a note about vanity publishers. These guys are the snakes and serpents of publishing. They essentially pretend to be a real publishing company contemplating the commercial publication of your book. Inevitably, however, you’ll be told that the “editorial board” or something other fictional entity decided they couldn’t quite afford the risk of going it alone. So you’ll be invited to spend some quite large sum of money on “partnership publishing”, or something like that. If it smells bad, it is bad. Just say no – with emphasis. If you feel like adding a cuss-word or two when you say so, then we won’t be offended

Hybrid publishers are a somewhat cleaner version of the same thing. They’ll ask for money to get you published, but be more candid about likely outcomes. If you encounter honesty and openness, the publisher may well be trustworthy. If you encounter heavy selling and a lack of candour, then avoid, avoid, avoid.

How can I find a digital-publisher?

Drum roll please… We’ve pulled together a list of active, reputable digital-first publishers. We’ve included as much key information as possible about each publisher, from what they publish to whether they accept submissions from un-agented writers, but please be aware that this information is only accurate at the time of writing. Make sure to check with the publisher directly if you have any specific queries about their submission process.

Digital-first publishers

Below, we’ve shared a variety of reputable and thriving digital-first publishers. Whilst this list is accurate at time of writing this article, we’re sure more and more will pop up in the future. If you do spot a new digital-first publisher, let us know by sending us an email. Don’t forget, before you trust any publisher with your submission, make sure to read our guide on how to spot vanity publishers and hybrid publishers.

Got it? Great! Let’s dig into some digital-first publishers. All of the following tend to publish general fiction (which means they cover most genres) but be sure to check out their websites for specific details about their titles and their submission guidelines.


Boldwood are one of the most exciting digital-first publishers in the industry. We were lucky enough to be joined by Nia Beynon from Boldwood Books for our Ask A Publisher Anything event. Premium Members can catch up on the replay now. Not a Premium Member? Join now and get access to masterclasses, events, video courses, AgentMatch and so much more.

Boldwood accept submissions during specific windows, so make sure to follow them on social media or check their website for any future openings. They publish commercial fiction in all sorts of genres.


A commercial fiction division of HarperCollins, Avon publish across multiple genres and often with a digital-first approach. We can’t find their submission details, but we think it’s likely they only accept agented submissions. We did find a handy Author Testimonial page on their website that is worth checking out if you are interested in being published by Avon.


Bookouture is another leading digital-first publisher making change in the industry. We love that they cover most genres in commercial fiction and that their submission guidelines are super clear and easy to follow. Find out more here.


Embla publishes our very own Head of Membership Becca Day and so they hold a special place in our hearts. They specialise in commercial adult fiction, covering thrillers like Becca’s and compelling stories across all popular genres. Head to their website for more.


The publisher of our Managing Director Sophie Flynn! Another publisher dear to us at Jericho Writers. Hera specialise in crime and thrillers, romance and sagas, but they publish most popular genres. Agented and un-agented writers can submit to them directly, more details on their website.

HQ Digital

HG Digital are a leading digital-first imprint of HarperCollins, publishing commercial fiction. We believe HQ Digital accept submissions from un-agented writers. Keep an eye on their submissions page for updates.

Joffe Books

Joffe are an independent digital-first publisher that boasts bestsellers. They publish across all general fiction genres, but specialise in crime and mysteries. Joffe kindly joined us for a panel event that Premium Members can rewatch here. Joffe accept submissions from un-agented writers, find out more here.

One More Chapter

A digital-first imprint of HarperCollins, One More Chapter publish ‘page-turning’ fiction across most genres and accept submissions from un-agented writers. Find out more about their submission guidelines here.

Orion Dash

Orion Dash is a digital-first imprint at Orion, part of Hachette. They publish commercial fiction and in their submission guidelines specifically mention that they are looking for women’s fiction, romance, saga, historical, crime and thrillers. Head over to their website for more information.

Digital-first publishers by genre

It’s no secret that certain genres seem to thrive in digital spaces. We’ve compiled digital-first publishers that specialise in their chosen genres.

Crime and Thrillers

Many of the biggest and most prolific digital-first publishers we’ve already mentioned specialise in crime and thrillers, even if their list of titles spans all genres. We recommend scrolling back up this page and checking out the digital-first publishers listed above.

Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Speculative Fiction

Speculative fiction is another area of the market that seems to perform well digitally. If you’re writing sci-fi, fantasy or anything speculative, consider submitting your manuscript to one of these publishers:

  • Baen – an independent digital-first publisher of sci-fi and fantasy books. Accepting submissions from un-agented authors, find out more about their submission guidelines here.
  • Berkley – during a recent open submissions call (in 2024), Berkley included romantasy in the genres they were looking for. We recommend keeping an eye on their website and following them on social media for information about how to submit to them.
  • DAW Books – an imprint of Astra, DAW publishes widely across the sci-fi and fantasy genres, they also mention on their website that they aim ‘to publish a wide range of voices and stories, because we believe that it is the duty of the science fiction and fantasy genres to be inclusive and representative of as many diverse viewpoints as possible.’ We can’t find details on how to submit to DAW at this time, which leads us to believe they accept submissions through agents only.
  • Second Sky Books – this digital-first publisher is actively accepting submissions. Check out their submission page, and what they are looking for.
  • Solaris Nova – an imprint of Rebellion publishing, Solaris Nova have detailed guidance on what they are looking for in their open submissions. As well as accepting sci-fi and fantasy, they are also looking for horror submissions!


Romance is booming in digital spaces, whether it’s on BookTok or in the Amazon Kindle charts, so it’s no surprise to see so many digital-first publishers specialising in this genre. As one of the most popular genres out there, devout are always on the hunt for the next sweeping love story, and digital formats allow them to find new books in an instant. If you’re a romance writer, don’t discount working with these publishers.

  • Carina Press – Harlequin’s digital-first imprint accepts both agented and un-agented submissions. From their clear submission guidelines, we can see that in rare circumstances, they will also consider previously self-published works.
  • Entice – publisher of BookTok romantasy hit Fourth Wing, Entice clearly have the power to help a book become an overnight hit. Unfortunately, at time of writing, they do not accept submissions from un-agented writers.
  • Evernight Publishing – specialising in romance and erotica, Evernight Publishing accept submissions from all writers. Bonus points for clearly stating their submission preferences.
  • Forever Yours – an imprint of Hachette, Forever Yours impressed us with their clear submission guidelines. They accept submissions from both agented and un-agented writers.
  • Mills & Boon – a staple in the romance space! The iconic Mills & Boon seem active in their search of new and un-agented writers to work with.
  • SMP Swerve – whilst this publisher specialises in romance fiction, at the time of writing, we couldn’t find specific details on how to submit to them but we believe they only accept submissions from agented authors.

How do I submit to a digital-first publisher?

Usually, digital-first publishers ask for the same materials you would expect a literary agent to request in a submission. These are typically the opening section of your manuscript (up to a certain number of words, pages or chapters), a synopsis and query letter. Some might forgo the query letter and instead ask you to complete a form and include your information.

When can I expect to hear back from a digital-first publisher with the results of your submission?

It’s difficult to say – but within the digital-first publisher’s submission guidelines they usually offer a rough estimate of how long it takes for them to respond to submissions. If that time has elapsed since you have submitted to them (and you’ve double checked your email inbox and spam folder!) then reaching out is usually acceptable. We recommend keeping in mind that open submissions tend to be popular and it can take a considerable amount of time for editors to read, and make a judgement, on the submissions they receive.

Disclaimer: this article seeks to compile information for writers interested in digital publishing. We do not have direct affiliations nor do we endorse any publishers mentioned in this article. If you have experience working with any digital-first publisher and would like to share this with us, or if you think we’ve missed out a digital-publisher, please send an email to We’d love to hear from you.