Writer’s Toolbox

Ask The Writer

Your most pressing and perplexing questions about writing answered here by Gotham teacher Brandi Reissenweber.

While researching publishers, I notice many of the larger ones have imprints. What are these?

An imprint is a specialty publisher within a larger publishing house. Penguin Group, for example, has the Penguin line, which publishes books on a wide variety of topics, including literature, memoir, history, business, poetry, self-help and more. The Penguin Group also has nearly forty imprints (at the time of this writing), each of which has its own niche. One imprint is Current, which publishes science books suitable for the general reader. Puffin Books publishes children’s paperbacks. Another imprint, Avery, publishes books on current health and wellness issues. The size of imprints can vary greatly. Puffin Books publishes about 225 books a year while Current publishes five to eight new titles a year. Some publishing houses have imprints that focus on genre. Harlequin Enterprises, a publishing house that focuses on romance and women’s fiction, has imprints such as Harlequin Medical Romance, Harlequin Historical and Harlequin Romantic Suspense.

Imprints allow for the focus of a smaller publisher and the backing and structure of a big publishing house. Research imprints the same way you would any other publishing house. Pay attention to the imprint’s mission statement, what titles and authors it publishes, and the quality of the books it produces. While the larger publishing house backing can be informative, each imprint functions as a distinct entity with its own reputation.