5.12.2007

Divisions within publishing houses

Dear Miss Snark,

When you submit to Ballantine, for instance, and receive a rejection, do you then submit to other Random House family publishers like Knopf or Shaye Areheart? Or is one editor's opinion applied to the entire family? Random House, again just as an example, has a whole slew of imprints and divisions, and it appears that many of them overlap in type of books they publish--for instance, a bunch of them publish commercial women's fiction. Or is each imprint very precise in what it handles, even if that's not apparant to an outsider?


Precise?
Excuse me I think I fell off my chair laughing at that idea! KY is having a hilarity seizure at my feet. Where's the inhaler??

Now that we've restored what passes for order around here:
The big houses like Random, Penguin, Simon and Schuster, Holtzbrink and Hachette (formerly Warner) all have divisions within divisions, imprints within divisions and groups gathering many but not all under one VP. Confusing doesn't BEGIN to describe it.

I have maps to sort out who's where and reports to whom.

Just to make everything REALLY fun, some editors who work at a specific imprint can also acquire for other parts of a division. So, a guy who works for a science fiction division has lunch with me, mentions he likes cowgirl lit, and next thing you know I've sold him something that can be described as women's fiction but won't be cause it's going to be a western now.

I spend a good part of my day yapping with editors about what they are looking for and what they aren't. My colleagues and I exchange info so we can all try and stay up to speed on who's where and what they want.

I don't think any of this would be obvious or even fathomable to someone who isn't in the mix on a daily basis.

And just to keep us all on our toes, every imprint has different policies about whether no from one editor means no from everyone.

8 comments:

ME said...

Twenty+ years ago there were a heck of alot more individual publishing houses than there are today. Perhaps Miss Snark would hazard a guess at the number of literary agents then and now.

Back then, an author had at least a rat's ass's chance of getting published without the assistance of an agent. I do not think that is the case now. The author/publisher relationship no longer exists, having been replaced by the author/agent relationship. So I see agents as a kind of "white knight" on behalf of authors, now.

The population has increased substantially, and so, presumably, has the number of potentially "great" authors. I know the net worth of the owners of the conglomerate publishing houses has increased, but has there been a proportionate increase in the quality and diversity (I don't mean race)of their offerings? I don't think so. I really don't. What has increased is the number of "copycat" titles on any given subject. And this is deemed progress!

Anonymous said...

Miss Snark, this is exactly what I was wondering: Is it possible for an agent to submit to Knopf, for instance, after a No from Random House Trade Paperbacks? The VP wrote me a gorgeous letter, but it was still a No. Would love to know if an agent can get around this, or is all of Random House now off the list?

Anonymous said...

I'm with an imprint that is tired of living off its back list and looking to move in a new direction. If you put my book next to the rest of the list, you would scratch your head and wonder what's it's doing there. But my book is the wave of the future for the imprint, which had replaced its whole staff with new personnel. The point is that Miss Snark, as always, is right again. You need to be in trenches on a daily basis to know what's going on and where to submit--as my agent did.

jamiehall said...

This is why you need an agent.

Anonymous said...

*Daring to correct Miss Snark* I think rather than Grand Central (formerly Warner), you might have intended to write Hachette Book Group USA (formerly TimeWarner Book Group). Grand Central Publishing is a division of Hachette Book Group USA.

Miss Snark said...

*daring to admit a mistake*!

ya, you're right, and I was wrong.
But now it's right, and thanks!

Heather said...

This post just really illustrates why agents are so desperately needed! All those who insist on saying that anyone could be an agent, or that they shouldn't have to pay that 15% just because sending a manuscript couldn't be THAT hard...

Stuff. It. Up. Your. Gullet.

This sort of dance takes expertise. You wouldn't want just anyone representing you in court... why would you want just anyone representing you to publishers?

This is why you should be careful when selecting your agent. A bad agent is worse than none at all!

Kidlitjunkie said...

From my experience, the only way people in one imprint will know that you've been rejected by another imprint in a major house is if your query letter is so bad that they read it out loud to everybody at a slush lunch.

We get a lot of slush. Every imprint does. If it's rejected by one, chances are high that it was never even seen by any of the other imprints.