Q&A: What is an imprint?

Q: Yesterday you mentioned imprints at the Big Six publishers. What is an imprint?

A: It’s a brand within a brand.

question answer
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Just like Proctor & Gamble makes Tide detergent for clothes and Cascade detergent for dishes, large publishers—especially the vast publishing conglomerates that make up the Big Six—form different brands for different products. For example, Random House has Waterbrook Multnomah for the Christian submarket, Del Rey for science fiction and fantasy, and Ballantine Books for the general market.

If you look at the spine of a book, you’ll see the logo of the imprint. For example, I have a copy of Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. The logo on the spine is “Pantheon.” The copyright page tells you Pantheon Books is a division of Random House.

Different imprints are often aimed at specific market segments or genres. For example, Del Rey Books is a division of Random House specializing in science fiction and fantasy.

At big publishers, each imprint will have its own acquisition editors who are focused on finding manuscripts that match the imprint’s brand goals.

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