What is an imprint? « The Book Publicity Blog

At my first (and only!) publishing job interview 10 years ago, the HR recruiter asked me if I was familiar with the concept of imprints.  How fortuitous Id just spent all of 30 seconds glancing through the catalogs in the waiting area, so I said intelligently, Oh yes those are like departments, despite having only the vaguest notion of what I was talking about.

Needless to say, imprints have a significance far beyond job interviews.  Larger publishing houses like Random House, the Penguin Group, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, etc. are divided into departments called imprints.  Sometimes, several imprints are affiliated in an official group likeThe Crown Publishing Groupwhich includes the imprints Broadway Books, Clarkson Potter, Crown and many others.  Sometimes imprints work together like The Penguin Groups mass market division that includes imprints like Ace, Berkley, Jove, Roc and many others although the department doesnt have an official name.

This is all pretty unimportant for the average reader whos more concerned with reading a book rather than ruminating over who published it, but for those interested in book publishing authors, literary agents, book bloggers, journalists its valuable to know about the building blocks of publishing houses.  (Book publicists feel free to forward this post to anyone who might have questions about imprints.)

Imprints typically have a defining character or mission.  For example, the objective ofViking, an imprint of The Penguin Group, is To publish a strictly limited list of good nonfiction, such as biography, history and works on contemporary affairs, and distinguished fiction with some claim to permanent importance rather than ephemeral popular interest.  Many imprints publish only one type (or one format) of book Crown Business(Random House) andPortfolio(The Penguin Group) publish business books for example,Fireside(Simon & Schuster) publishes (paperback) inspirational books andHarperPerennial(HarperCollins) publishes paperbacks.  Other imprints likePenguin BooksandRandom Housepublish a variety of fiction and nonfiction titles.

Which brings me to one of the most confusing (yet one of the most important) distinctions to make in publishing: the difference between publishing houses and their eponymous imprints.  So Random House the company has a division calledThe Random House Publishing Groupwhich is itself broken down into several imprints including Ballantine and the Random House Trade Group (known as Little Random).  The Penguin Group (the company) has one imprint calledThe Penguin Press, that publishes hardcover fiction and nonfiction, and another imprint calledPenguin Books, that publishes paperback fiction and nonfiction.  (And to make matters even more confusing, Penguin Press titles are published as Penguin Books paperbacks.)

Several months ago, Sarah Weinman ofConfessions of an Idiosyncratic Mindbroke down the imprints at all the major publishing houses:MacmillanSimon & SchusterHachetteHarperCollinsThe Penguin GroupandRandom House.(You should note, though, that her series was written before the reorganization at Random House, so the scenes changed a bit since then.)

For bloggers and journalists attempting to get in touch with authors, make a note of a books imprint and contact that department, not the company as a whole.  I cant tell you how many people contact  or m not realizing that these addresses are *not* for their respective companies, but for specific departments within those companies.  If youre in the book reviewing / author interview business, you need to make it your business to know your imprints.

If youre trying to locate contact information for imprints, I link to the Contact Us pages at several major publishing houses in thisMedia requesting review copies / trying to contact authorspost.  You can also find more information aboutreview copies (and why you may not be receiving the ones you request).

What do you find most confusing about imprints?  Ever tried to find contact information for an imprint but couldnt?

Something I encourage journalists to do when they contact me for a book not in my imprint or division, is to look up the book they are looking for on Amazon.com. Since the publishers submit information on new titles directly to amazon.com, the publisher under the Product Details heading is not only accurate, but more often than not says the exact imprint. Then I usually include a rough breakdown of the imprints and divisions in the whole company, so they know at least which general inbox to contact for specific imprints (i.e.or Crown, Corwn Business, Three Rivers, Harmony, etc.)

It seems to limit the number of e-mails I receive for books not published by my imprint or even division. I wish more reporters knew the Amazon trick and did their research!

Most people email rather than call these days, but when they do call about a book thats not published by my imprint, I make a point of saying very loudly and clearly, Let me check Amazon and see what it says (but Ill do the equivalent in an email message as well).

[…] aprofundar o tema das chancelas vs. editoras, leia este artigo do The Book Publicity Blog e da siga os links para os artigos do blogue de Sarah Weinman em que ela analisa o confuso […]

Pingback byBlogue BOOKSMILE, livros que saltam vista » Blog Archive » O que uma chancela?July 14, 2009Reply

Excellent post. Thanks for all of the great information you are publishing.

Comment byKimberly DavisJuly 16, 2009Reply

I actually pay attention to imprints when choosing books to read for pleasure. For example, Im not that into chick lit, but if Razorbill publishes a book that LOOKS like chick lit, Ill read it anyway because nine times out of ten, it has an edge or a twist and is not your average chick lit. I have been paying attention to imprints since I was a teen and didnt even know what they were, so the average reader might too.

Comment byHowlin Harry BesharetFebruary 19, 2010Reply

I have a question about the type of imprint/brand used when one is self-sublishing through a company like Createspace.

You can either have them assign you an ISBN which makes them the publisher listed on Amazon, or you can pay them 10.00 for your own ISBN, which allows you to create an imprint/brand like Star Press. Then on Amazon that is listed as the publisher. Sounds good to me.

Heres my question: If you do that, what else is involved? Do you need a DBA, or anything like that? Ive heard mixed things. Id like to have my own imprint brand to publish under, but not if its going to be complicated. Please help.

Comment byJill ShinnFebruary 26, 2011Reply

Im actually not sure, since I dont work with self-published authors. $10 seems a pretty low price to create your own name (but then again, I dont think most people using Amazon look at the publisher). Sorry I couldnt be of more help.

Finding an imprint owner can also be hard.. We have a book published by Vega books that was published in 2003 and the imprint was sold and then sold again (and even maybe again) and now I am unable to find out who even owns it despite hours of trying online.

And the reason for this in 2007 the republished the book translated into French and weve never received a penny or a cent for it.. makes me think publishers hide behind the duplicitious reselling of imprints to avoid the paying of rights.

Comment byNicholas Breeze WoodFebruary 27, 2011Reply

Are imprints registered at companies? Or could MYPRESS LTD just decided to publish a book under a different name. Do trade names or imprints need some official registration?

Imprints arent registered, per se theyre essentially departments at a company. Although I dont deal with this part of the publishing process, I assume the imprint would be part of the books metadata.

[…] What is an imprint? The Book Publicity BlogJul 14, 2009 For bloggers and journalists attempting to get in touch with authors, make a note of a books imprint […]

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Pingback byWhat Is An Imprint? « Eliza Loves Sci FiFebruary 7, 2012Reply

[…] our program. It requires some work on the part of the author to determine what kinds of books an imprint publishes, but it also takes a lot of work for us to evaluate unsolicited manuscripts. If you want […]

Pingback byAuthor Tips: 10 Turn-Offs for an Editor Reading Your Book Proposal AMACOM Books BlogFebruary 28, 2012Reply

Reblogged this onDown Unpaved Roadsand commented:

Heres another gem worth sharing! Today I was pondering about blog tours, but two days ago I was considering the mystery of Imprints. As Im trying hard to learn all I can about the industry, this one seems important.

Comment byLisa HallFebruary 2, 2013Reply

I have deciced to use my New Logo for my imprint brand. It will be easy for anyone and everyone to contact the author, who will be working in the press department for the enterprise business.

Comment byBritney Chanel DunnFebruary 14, 2013Reply

I want to see a definition of the word ok people

[] own e-pub imprints. Some even have print imprints (are you confused yet? Learn more about imprints HERE) that writers can submit to without needing an agent. One of these such imprints is Avon, which is []

Pingback byLong time, no write Tales of RejectionJune 16, 2013Reply

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Fall 2012: Ive really enjoyed writing about book publicity and meeting (0nline and in person) writers, publicists, editors, agents and others in the publishing industry, but Ive reluctantly come to the conclusion that I just dont have the time to maintain this blog.

I imagine there is some information that will remain the same and that will remain useful, but there is much more that is or will become out of date, so please keep that in mind if you find yourself perusing my posts.

For some time now, Ive closely followed a lot of very informative sites about media and about the publishing industry.  Since I find myself quite voluble at times about issues that pertain to my job in the publicity department at a large publishing house, I thought Id set up a book publicity blog.  The purpose of this blog is provide tips, primarily, but also information about publishing / marketing trends that will help book publicists and hopefully others in media and publishing do our jobs with greater ease and efficiency.  Please note that the opinions expressed on this blog are my own, not those of my company.

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Author-Publicist Relationship  (12)

Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind

Mark Athitakis American Fiction Notes

Dystel & Goderich Literary Management

Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists

Why email subject lines are so important

What you need to include in your email signature

The art of the conversation a la SXSW

How authors can reach out with a blog

When to schedule bookstore events (and when not to)

Media requesting review copies of books / trying to contact authors

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