A Who’s Who of Publishers

Sitting in a workshop last week, listening to a panel of Kensington editors, one of them commented (I believe it was Audrey LeFehr, but it might have been Alicia Condon) that she was surprised by how many aspiring authors come to the conferences without doing even the slightest research about publishers.  Those bright eyed hopefuls (us) are trying to sell our books (of course!), but they (okay, we) sometimes have NO IDEA who these editors are, or even who Kensington is.  There are oodles of publisher spotlights at the National conference designed to inform authors of just this, but we’re talking about the most basic primer.  So that’s the goal of today’s post.  A VERY basic (and by no means complete) look at the publishing houses that handle romance.  This can serve as starting point.  A simple frame of reference, so when you’re chatting with Alicia Condon and she says she is a Kensington editor, you don’t give her a blank stare.

And please, if you have corrections or additions (or questions), feel free to add them in the comments.

If you are a member of RWA, you can also refer to their member’s only publisher information.  And Brenda Hiatt’s Show Me the Money site is also a good reference point for a ballpark estimate of what romance authors are making at various houses.

DISCLAIMER: None of this is intended as an endorsement or indictment of any publisher.  Please do research before submitting to any publisher.

Remember, the best starting point is your bookshelves.  Look at what you read and see which imprints resonate with your taste – odds are they will also line up well with your writing voice.

The Big Six: (yes, we know there are more than six)

St. Martins Press (a division of MacMillan – look for the two squiggly lines on the spines of your books)  They publish a wide spectrum of romance and women’s fiction in both hardcover and mass market including bestsellers Jennifer Crusie, Janet Evanovich’s early Stephanie Plum books, Celeste Bradley, Lisa Kleypas, Sherrilyn Kenyon, and our very own Rubies Darynda Jones & Diane Kelly.

Also at Nationals were representatives from another MacMillan imprint Tor/Forge who publish science fiction, fantasy and mystery.

Avon (a division of HarperCollins)  With a reputation as the place for historical romance for many years (they even published Kathleen Woodwiss’s The Flame & The Flower back in the day), Avon currently publishes Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, Sarah MacLean, Stephanie Laurens & Anna Campbell, though they also publish a variety of other romance sub-genres in mass-market (hardcover & non-romance being published by another HarperCollins arm, Morrow).  Other notables include Christina Dodd, Marjorie M. Liu, and Lynsay Sands.

Harlequin (the behemoth, part of TorStar media group) Publishing over 110 romance titles a month, this is the place for category romance.  We could dedicate an entire blog to the many Harlequin imprints (and we have! check out Jamie Michele’s Harlequin decision tree to see where your books may fall). Some single-title best-sellers include Victoria Dahl & Kristan Higgins in the HQN line and Debbie Macomber for Mira. Harlequin is also the home of Rubies Liz Talley (Superromance), Jeannie Lin (Harlequin Historical), and Kelly Ann Riley and CJ Chase (Love Inspired – see inspirational below). (For Carina, see epublishers below.)

Ballantine-Bantam-Dell (a division of Random House)  Formed by the combination of Ballantine (home of several powerhouse romantic suspense authors including Allison Brennan, Tess Gerritsen, Linda Howard, Susan Brockman and Julie Garwood), Bantam (whose Spectra line science fiction and fantasy readers may recognize) and Dell.  The Random House imprints also publish Lara Adrian, Keri Arthur, Karen Marie Moning, Diana Gabaldon, Danielle Steele, and Janet Evanovich’s new Stephanie Plum books.

NAL (which stands for New American Library AKA Signet/Signet Eclipse, a division of the Penguin Group) Publishing a wide spectrum of romance, NAL is home to Cherry Adair, JR Ward, Cathy Maxwell, Lois McMaster Bujold, Loretta Chase, and our very own Ruby Addison Fox’s Zodiac Warriors series.

Berkley (also a division of the Penguin Group) Berkley publishes over 700 titles a year in mass market, trade & hardcover (like Nalini Singh’s latest release!) under the Berkley, Jove & Ace imprints.  Some of their authors include: JD Robb, Jennifer Ashley, Jayne Ann Krentz, and Julie James.

Forever (aka Grand Central, formerly Warner, a division of Hachette) Forever romance publishes single title works (85-95K – agented only) by notable authors Larissa Ione & Elizabeth Hoyt, as well as Roxanne St. Claire, Laurel McKee and our very own Ruby Hope Ramsay’s small town contemporary Last Chance series.

Pocket (a division of Simon & Schuster) Longtime publisher of pocket-sized (har) paperbacks, among Pocket’s romance authors are Melissa Mayhue, Karen Hawkins, Sabrina Jeffries, Marta Acosta, and Kresley Cole.

Independent Romance Publishers:

Kensington – A large independent romance publisher, Kensington puts out over 500 titles a year in hardcover, trade paperback and mass market, including the Brava (erotic romance) & Aphrodisia (erotica) lines. If you are familiar with the Zebra line (with mostly historical romances and the discounted debut prices to lure in readers for new authors) those also fall under the Kensington umbrella.  Home to Fern Michaels, and the Ruby’s own Elizabeth Essex’s historical romances and Joan Swan’s studly firemen.

Sourcebooks – If you’ve met Deb Werksman at conferences, then you know the face of Sourcebooks.  A woman-owned romance publisher, Sourcebooks publishes Georgette Heyer’s books (and if it’s about Jane Austen it’s probably Sourcebooks too) as well as new works by Grace Burroughs, Robin Kaye, and Ruby Tamara Hogan’s paranormal Underbelly Chronicles.

For Inspirational:

This is not my area of expertise, so I’m presenting a woefully under-educated list, but hopefully our inspirational members will fill me in a bit in the comments.

Thomas Nelson – My understanding is that Thomas Nelson publishes inspirational fiction including romance, primarily in the trade paperback format.  They publish Ruby Cara Lynn James’s Ladies of Summerhill series.

Bethany House – A smaller house publishing nearly 120 titles annually, Bethany House prints Christian fiction by Beverly Lewis, Lynn Austin, Deeanne Gist & Ruby Yvonne Harris.

Love Inspired (see Harlequin) – The inspirational line of Harlequin’s category romance, Love Inspired can be romantic suspense, historical, or contemporary – including the new Amish romance trend.  Authors include Rubies CJ Chase (LI Historical) and Rita nominee Kelly Ann Riley (LI Suspense).

For Young Adult:

Many of the Big Six publishers above will also have Young Adult Imprints (HarperTeen, Harlequin Teen, TorTeen, SimonPulse, Razorbill & Dutton from the Penguin Group, St. Martin’s Griffin, etc.) but here are a few other names you’ll hear when the YA market is being discussed.  (Again not my strong suit here, so hopefully our YA mavens will speak up.)

Scholastic (of Scholastic Book Fairs fame – you remember those from elementary school, right?)  Primarily for children’s books, you’ll hear these fellas talked about as the North American distributor of the Harry Potter books.  Other notables go from The Hunger Games to the Babysitter’s Club.

HyperionDisney’s publishing house.  Some of their publications include the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series by Rick Riordan and Artemis Fowl. They are distributed by Harper Collins.

Egmont – A British based publishing arm of a Scandinavian company, Egmont only publishes childrens and YA books.  Their releases include the Dark Divine series by Bree Despain and Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy.

Epublishing Houses: (also known as Digital-First or Digital-Only)

Epubs are plentiful and varied – for more about the epublishing model check out this previous post  (but please keep in mind that post is a year old and things change fast…)

Samhain (They get to go first since they pay my bills…)  The first e-publisher to have an ebook hit the NYT bestseller list with Maya Banks and then Shelli Stevens, Samhain publishes all varieties of romance (including GLBT) and recently opened a horror line as well as a retro line to reprint Old Skool romance.  Some of their name brand authors include Lorelei James, Vivian Arend, K.A. Mitchell, Moira Rogers, and Delilah Devlin.  They published Ruby Laura Navarre’s Devil’s Mistress and my shape-shifter and Karmic Consultants books (of which there is a new ebook releasing TOMORROW!  A Cop & A Feel by Vivi Andrews! Five Hearts from the Romance Studio! Shameless self-promo!).

Ellora’s Cave – Well-known in the ebook world for their racy, uber-sexy books, Ellora’s Cave does have a less SEXSEXSEX side as well, publishing the humorous contemporary and paranormal romance by Ruby Kelly Fitzpatrick, as well as a plethora of blush-worthy heat including many of Lora Leigh’s Breed books.

Dorchester – Formerly a mass market publisher in the process of trying to salvage their woeful monetary situation by turning digital, Dorchester’s Leisure Books & Love Spell lines were once a favorite among many romance readers.  They published Ruby Laura Navarre’s Devil’s Temptress.

Wild Rose Press An epress who doesn’t focus on the erotic side, Wild Rose is a smaller epress publishing a variety of romance from sweet to sensual, including Rubies Autumn Jordon, Heather McCollum, and Diana Layne.

Carina – One of the new kids on the epub block, Carina is the digital offshoot of Harlequin (though there is separation of church & state so you won’t find Carina ebooks in the Harlequin ebook store).  They recently celebrated their first anniversary, and their first NYT bestseller with contemporary romance author Shannon Stacey.  Carina has contracted Rubies Rita Henuber, Vivi Andrews, Anne Marie Becker & Jennifer Bray-Weber.

Oh epubs… There are dozens more (LooseId, Liquid Silver, Siren/Bookstrand, ImaJinn, Red Sage, Changeling…), but I’m exhausted. Epublishers are plentiful and many of the “Big Six” are also starting digital branches – including Avon’s Impulse.  And by the time I write this, I’m probably outdated.

Special Case:

Amazon – is their own deal and changing rapidly… they’ve launched a romance imprint… they do self-publishing… essentially they are getting into this wild and crazy publishing biz and things haven’t really shaken out on where they are going to fit.

And then there’s self-publishing to consider… (for more on self-pubbing, refer to Cate Rowan’s previous post)

Okay, folks, that’s our jumping off point.  Confused yet?  Think I muffed up part of my book report?  Give me a shout in the comments and let’s keep the discussion going.

53 responses to “A Who’s Who of Publishers”

  1. Cate Rowan says:

    Hey, nice work, Vivi! This was a great idea. A very handy rundown of the current players and who’s publishing the Rubies. *thumbs up*

    Looks like I need to update my old cover on the linked post about self-publishing, though. And some of my predictions. Heck, I should probably sign up to do another blog post… *guilty face*

  2. jbrayweber says:

    Great comprehensive line-up, Vivi. This is like one-stop window shopping. Wonderful job.



    • Vivi Andrews says:

      Thanks, Jenn! Even the at-a-glance look turned out to be more overwhelming a list than I expected, but hopefully still window-shopper-friendly. 😀

  3. Laurie Kellogg says:

    Wow, Vivi, what a fabulous overview of the industry. The Rubies really do have a presence across the board, don’t we? This must have taken hours and hours to put together. Thank you!

    • Vivi Andrews says:

      Quite a variety in the Ruby ranks, it’s true. And yep, this did take a chunk of time. I would’ve tried to go more in depth, but I just ran out of time! And I’m still worried I left out something crucial. Hopefully folks in the know will chime in under the comments to fill in any blanks.

  4. Tamara Hogan says:

    Thanks for pulling this infomration together, Vivi!

    One more cool thing about Sourcebooks is that publisher Dominique Raccah is quite the mover and shaker in the digital publishing community. Her precient attention to the electronic evolution of publishing ensures that their authors’ books release in print and all electronic formats simultaneously, on release day.

    I was, and still am, very proud to tell readers that they can buy TASTE ME in any format they want, for any device they want, anywhere people buy books.

    • Vivi Andrews says:

      Thank you for the insight into Sourcebooks, Tammy!

      It is interesting to see how various publishers are dealing with ebook release dates and pricing.

  5. kelly fitzpatrick says:

    Where were you 4 or 5 years ago when I knew diddlysquat about publishers and publishing? Thankfully now I know squat.

    I was surprised when an agent told me that each publisher has a voice and just because they reject you, doesn’t mean your a bad writer, you simply don’t fit with their voice. The publishing world is much like the dating world, there is someone for most everyone. You just have to slap on a little makeup, suck in your gut, thrust out your chest and keep trying. And don’t forget to smile.

    • Vivi Andrews says:

      4 or 5 years ago? I also knew diddlysquat about publishers, so I would have been no help at all. 😀

      Love the dating analogy – just because a guy is great doesn’t mean he’s right for you. Same with this publishing stuff. But I’m inclined to think it goes a step beyond what that agent said – editors within houses have voices, or types of books they gravitate toward. That’s one of the things agents can help us do – target the right editor at the right house who is going to go nuts for our voice. Of course, first you have to find the agent who is going to go nuts for your books…

  6. Dara Young says:

    Great info Vivi. One update for The Wild Rose Press, they do have an erotic line called the Scarlet Rose line and a website for those books called Wilder Roses. So they definitely do erotic as well as all the other heat levels, even if its not a focus. 😀 Thanks for all the information!

  7. Kim Law says:

    Terrific info! And great idea for a post!

    I need to go direct a few people over here now. I’m sure it’ll be very helpful to many!!

  8. Beth Langston says:

    More on YA publishers:

    As Vivi mentioned, most major publishing houses have one or more YA imprints: S&S, Scholastic, Harlequin, Harper, Random House, MacMillan, Penguin. Then there’s also Candlewick, Sourcebooks, Little Brown, Egmont, Flux, Disney/Hyperion.

    And just like with any adult line, it’s really important to know what the imprint is like. At Penguin, the edgier books usually go to Razorbill, Puffin/Speak prints paperbacks, and Dutton is more of a hardcover line.

    Thanks for this post, Vivi. It is great!

  9. Wow, this is FANTASTIC, Vivi!!! What a great breakdown of what/who is out there. Thanks so much!

  10. Gwynlyn MacKenzie says:

    Well done, Vivi! So much information, and so many Rubies populating the various publishers. It’s inspiring! Thanks, doll.

  11. Rita Henuber says:

    Thanks for this. I don’t know what I would do without the information my sisters share.
    And…Happy Release Day-tomorrow- for A Cop and a Feel. Love that title.
    It’s amazing to see all my sister’s names spread out across this page. In two years we’ve come pretty darn far.

  12. Vivian Arend says:

    Awesome list, and I’m totally grinning you mentioned my name. MOI? A writer? Still shocked.:D

    And I’m totally bragging on your books, babe. Karmic all the way!

  13. Great rundown; thanks for including us. 🙂 Our mainstream romance line is called Blush, if your readers are interested.

    Ellora’s Cave

  14. Amber says:

    I didn’t see G.P. Putnam’s Sons (Penguin) on the list. They publish hardcovers of Amanda Quick/JAK, Nora and others.

  15. C.J. Chase says:

    Hey, Vivi!

    Here’s some of your Inspirational info:

    The “big ones” are
    – Thomas Nelson
    – Tyndale (publisher of Robin Lee Hatcher, Maureen Lang, Francine Rivers, etc.)
    – Zondervan (publisher of Karen Kingsbury, Lisa Samson, etc.)
    – Baker Publishing Group which is the parent company of both Bethany House (which you already mentioned) and Revell (publisher of Irene Hannon, Julie Lessman, etc.)

    The Big Six have gotten into inspirational publishing in a big way in the last few years, starting their own inspirational imprints or buying upindependent inspirational publishers:

    – Howard (division of Simon and Schuster
    – WaterBrook Multnomah (Random House)
    – Zondervan (HarperCollins)
    – Avon Inspired (HarperCollins)
    – Faith Words (Hatchett)
    – Love Inspired (Harlequin)

    Some other inspirational publishers:
    – Abingdon (affiliated with the Methodist denomination)
    – B&H (affiliated with the Southern Baptists)
    – Barbour
    – Guideposts
    – Harvest House
    – Summerside

    And then there are some even smaller presses and epresses. Author Lyn Cote maintains a list of inspirational publishers on her website. Most of inspirational publishers require an agent for submissions these days. (And many of the agents handling inspirational specialize in that market, so they aren’t the familiar NYC agencies.)

    Almost all inspirational fiction (with the exception of Love Inspired) is published in trade paperback.

  16. Wowsers. This post is going to have a long life, I think. You put a lot of work into this one (you even got the icons, well done!) and I appreciate it. Fabulous.

  17. Who you callin’ a name-brand author? 0_o

    • Vivi Andrews says:

      It’s my personal version of name brand – i.e. I see the name, I buy the book. Like my complete inability to walk away from any product that says “Hershey” on it. Just embrace your awesomeness, K.A. 🙂

  18. Great post! Wow, I love being able to find out, at a glance, who’s doing what. (sounds so wrong, but you get the gist…) LOL

    Thanks for taking the time to do this. I know it had to be labor intensive, but it’s so appreciated. I’m bookmarking it and keeping it in my “Critical Info” file.

  19. Diana Layne says:

    You are such a smart Ruby sister!!

  20. Thanks for the info. This business is changing so fast now that it makes your head spin. I am saving your lists. Thanks again.

  21. Kate Parker says:

    Vivi, this is a great rundown. Thanks. And congrats on your release day tomorrow.

  22. Liz talley says:

    ThiS is brilliant! I’m off to send this to my local chapters loop!

  23. […] The Ruby Slipper Sisterhood focuses on the Big 6 Publishers […]


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