Tag Archives: how to publish

How to Publish Topic #3: Bigger than you can imagine houses

We’re continuing our Monday discussion of different ways to get published. Today we’re talking about large publishing houses.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized that there were a “Big Six”, because there sure are a lot of OTHER houses out there that can give you exactly the same stuff.  Some take unagented manuscripts, others do not.

Some that don’t take unagented submissions open up once a year (or once in a while) to unagented authors, and always for a short time.  If you are interested in this, you need to follow these publishers closely.  The windows are tight, you don’t want to miss it.

In general, everything I said about the “Big Six” is true about these guys.  One in particular – HARLEQUIN – should be particularly attractive if you are a romance writer. TOR should be very attractive if you are a Speculative Fiction writer.  The reason I say this, is that these publishers have followings.  People who like a certain type of romance trust Harlequin, and will buy a book for the Harlequin name alone.  Hey, I wouldn’t say no to that.

Here are some of the “biggies” that are not considered “Big Six”

Harlequin (Recently purchased by HarperCollins)

Tor (St. Martins Press)

Baen Books

Baker Book House

Daw Books

Houghton Mifflin



Personally, I think the bragging rights are just as good to get into any of these guys. I certainly wouldn’t say no… but only if I believed that they loved my book enough to help promote it.



How to Publish Topic #2: Do I want a Big Six Publisher, and Why?

This is something I think a lot of people struggle with. Not too long ago, authors did not have the choices they have today. If you wanted to get published, you needed an agent. Period. And that agent had only a handful of publishing houses to get you book into.

Not so today, but let’s take a look at the “biggies”.

These are the publishers commonly referred to as the “Big Six”





Random House

Simon and Schuster

Even though there are many other choices available, these Big Six (5) are still the “only option” for many people. Hey, I’m not knocking that… why not aim high? The big houses can do a lot for you. Professional editing. Marketing. Sales team to get you into bookstores. Kick-butt cover art.

Yep. Sounds good to me.

I completely understand anyone wanting to jump into an organization that can give you so much. Problem is, more and more Big Six authors are raising their hands and saying “umm, I don’t get that stuff from my Big Six publisher”.


Now, I am not a Big Six author, so I can only relay what I’ve heard. Yes, there is a marketing budget. However, most of that budget is spent on the Stephen Kings and JK Rowlings of the world. Big houses spend their money to spread the news about titles the KNOW will sell. The little, debut authors? Not so much (but that is not to say never) And as far as getting into Barnes and Noble, the sales person, if you are lucky, will mention and talk about your book for all of fifteen seconds in a very short sales meeting with the bookseller. That’s not too long.


Editing is hit or miss. I think we’ve all seen typos in Big Six novels. They make me cringe. It shouldn’t happen. I do think that, overall, Big Six novels do seem to get decent content edits, though. Editing is manual. It will always be open to mistakes.

Cover Art:

I will give them this… Covers are usually pretty dern snappy. That kind of cover costs a pretty penny. But there are some misses there as well. And you will have no creative control whatsoever about your cover with the big guys.

Bragging Rights:

I think that the big thing attracting people to the Big Six is bragging rights. I totally understand that. Getting into a Big Six is a statement. What does it say?

“I did it.”

Yes, I understand that completely. It’s a huge accomplishment. With thousands of novels vying for a precious few slots in their catalog, “making it” is certainly brag-worthy. Once you are there, though, you need to take stock and decide if you are really getting what you thought you were getting.

In many cases, authors ARE getting what they hoped for. But there are also many who think the Big 6 fall short.

Next time, we’ll talk about the ‘bigger than you can imagine’ houses.


How to Publish. The decision can drive an author CRAZY.

Recently, I sent out a little tweet with an article attached. My comment was something like: “Interesting article, but I still think qualified small houses are the way to go.”

Someone tweeted me back asking why I thought that, since they were beginning to research the subject.

I thought about explaining in 140 characters or less— but you thought Twitter pitching was hard. Ha!

So, here is the blog post I promised her. I figured there are probably a lot of people out there with their heads spinning. Maybe this will help.

Remember, this is all my opinion after reading tons of articles, other blog posts, and researching the industry in general. Also, everyone is different. What’s right for one person may not be right for another.

(I also admit that my mind changes daily – but I usually return to my final conclusion eventually)

There are more options out there to be published today than ever before. Authors, for the first time, have a heck of a lot of control over making their dreams come true.  They have also never been in such danger of flushing their careers down the toilet.  Whatever you choose to do, just make sure you do it right. No shortcuts.

So, what are our choices? Don’t look anywhere else for all these categories. This is how I look at the industry. There is some overlap, but my nutty brain sees all of these as different in one way or another.

Here are what I look at as the major options available.

  1. Agent/No agent
  2. The Big Six (or five now). (Random House, Harper Collins, Hachette, Simon and Schuster, Penguin, and Macmillan) *And the oodles of imprints below them*
  3. Bigger than you can imagine houses (Like Harlequin – Umm, now part of Harper Collins, come to think of it)
  4. Qualified Small Houses (There is a fine line between #4 and #5)
  5. Up and Coming, Established Houses
  6. Startups
  7. Self-Publishing (And all of the different iterations of self-publishing)

Now, I’m not going to talk about all these in one post, because long posts bore me to tears. I know I don’t have the time to read that much, and I know it’s hard to digest all that at once to. In my next post I’ll talk about agents, and we’ll take it from there.

While we’re waiting, anyone want to chime in on why they made whatever decision they made?

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