Publishing house imprints serve a purpose, but many authors are unfamiliar with what that purpose is.
“What’s an imprint?” I’m frequently asked.
The answer is, imprints are a trade name under a larger publisher aimed at specific audiences. Think of it as an offshoot, a type of branding, or a cohesive line of books. Usually, a large publisher buys smaller publishers — all unique, but now operating under the same umbrella.
This is how larger publishers grow their imprints, generally based on market needs. When an imprint publishes your book, their affiliation with the larger publisher appears in the front matter of your book.
Let’s take a look at the “Big Fives.”
“Big 5” Trade Publishers
The five most dominant names in trade publishing:
- Penguin Random House
- Hachette Livre
- Macmillan Publishers
- Simon & Schuster
Chances are high that the latest bestseller you’ve read was published by one of these top-tier publishers or an imprint.
“Big 5” Educational Publishers
The five largest educational publishers :
- Mcgraw Hill Education
- Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
- Pearson Education (owns Penguin Random House)
- Cengage Learning
Other Large Publishers
- Springer Nature
- Wiley (John Wiley & Sons)
- Oxford University Press
- Grupo Santillana
- Bonnier Books
- Egmont Books
Publishing House Imprints
Here’s an example straight off the Penguin Random House imprints page:
But What About the Rest of the Publishing House Imprints?
Click here to see an excellent graphic by almossawi.com of top publishers and their imprints (dated 2016). Notice how vast and extensive the imprints are under the umbrella of large publishing houses. Huge! Ginormous!
Here’s an older list from 2013 — still insightful.
As business models go, imprints work. I believe imprints gives ordinary, everyday authors more of a chance to successfully navigate the traditional publishing route.