An Overview of Harper Collins

From their blog: "HarperCollins Children’s Books is one of the leading publishers of children’s books. Respected worldwide for its tradition of publishing quality books for children, HarperCollins is home to many of the classics of children's literature, including Goodnight Moon, Where the Wild Things Are, The Giving Tree, Charlotte's Web, the Ramona books, and countless other award-winning titles. HarperCollins Children's Books is a division of HarperCollins Publishers, one of the leading English-language publishers in the world."

There are many big name publishers out there:  Harper Collins, Penguin, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster Random House or Little and Brown (big name, thanks to Twilight but small publisher.) Most of these companies have been around for years and over those years have expanded to small imprints under a single umbrella name. 

Claudia Gabel is an editor with Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint under Harper Collins.  At SCBWI LA, she gave a workshop on “An Overview of Harper Collins” and her role as a development editor.  Understanding what imprints are and why publishers have them helps us as writers to know who is actually printing our book. 

What is an imprint?  They are editorial groups within a main company like Harper Collins with “boutique imprints” under them (smaller printing groups under a big name printer.)

Why do publishers have imprints?  Having imprints means a smaller team can focus on a specialty: children’s picture books, MG, YA, or overall packaging of:  books with games and toys associated.

Why does a writer need to know about them?   When an agent tells you they have a deal with X imprint company, you as the writer should know if that imprint is: paperback only, picture books mostly with very little focus on YA, international printing availability, etc.  If you have a YA novel and the imprint is mostly children’s picture books, that publisher might not have the best marketing for your style of book since their main knowledge is picture books.  Something to consider when getting an offer.

Does Harper Collins accept unsolicited manuscripts? (unsolicited MS = did not come from an agent) Harper Collins' official answer is no.  BUT…(I know you like the sound of that) they do receive unsolicited manuscripts.  IF you know the right person to send it to within a specific imprint, your manuscript will be glanced over by an intern.  IF that intern thinks there is something of value, they will pass it along to the editor they work for.  And IF you’ve done your homework, you might get your MS reviewed by an editor. Very "iffy" if you ask me. 

NOW, let me add that you will NEVER get a rejection letter from a publisher who officially DOES NOT accept unsolicited manuscripts.  If you don’t hear from the publishing editor within six months, move on.  ALSO, DO NOT contact that editor for follow ups because YOU WILL EARN A BAD REPUTATION WITH THAT EDITOR.  Editors within the business from different companies talk, just like neighbors.

So the lesson here is if you know how to break the rules correctly, you might get in the door without black balling yourself.  Key words “break the rules correctly.”

Here are a list of Harper Collins Children’s imprints and what type of books they focus on:

Walden Pond Press– MG books
Balzer & Bray – Picture books
Greenwillow Books –  from picture books to teen
Collins – non-fiction reference for children to teens
Harper Festival – books, novelties and merchandise for very young children
Harper Teen – YA books Harper Trophy – paperback for children Katherine Tegen Books – picture books, MG, Teen Fiction
(there are other imprints I did not mention, see link above)

My suggestion, research all the big publishers and their imprints. Find the imprints that focus on your style/genre of book and follow their blogs, websites, twitter, facebook, etc. Most imprints have blogs and there you can learn what that imprint is looking for and what they already have.