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30 of the Best Book Publishers in 2021

30 of the Best Book Publishers in 2021

Ever been to a bookstore and wondered what all the little logos on the book spines are? Chances are you’d have spotted depictions of the Big 5 publishers – and seen at least a few familiar penguins and sowers lining the shelves. There are countless publishing houses out there that are poised to promote you and your book, and yet you may not know about many of them. Let’s remedy that!

Do I Need to Look For a Publisher?

Finding a book publisher can be a tricky process, especially if you are hoping to be published by some of the top publishers in the business. Where do you begin, and what information is important for you to know before you start submitting your manuscript to some of the largest book publishers? Is there anything to be said for self publishing, and what types of publishing should you avoid?

Remember, you will most likely need to be represented by a literary agent before you (via your agent) can start submitting to publishers. Nevertheless, there’s no harm in window shopping; it might even provide you with a focal point if you are still working on getting an agent.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the number of book publishers out there, I’ve compiled a list of some of the best book publishers working today. I’ll go over the top five biggest publishing houses, some of the best publishers for both education and children’s books, as well as some of my personal favourite independent book publishers.

Read on to discover what these publishers have to offer, as well as some of their top titles and divisions. You never know if your manuscript is exactly what a publisher has been waiting for!

The Big Five Book Publishers

While aiming high can be daunting to some authors, trying to submit your manuscript to some of the top publishing companies out there isn’t a bad idea. I’ve brought you a list of the top five book publishers, which essentially refers to five power house trade publishing houses which are well known and widely recognised. Let’s dive into them now.

Simon & Schuster

Simon & Schuster is where we begin our big five journey, as this publishing company holds an annual revenue of $830 million. They have a few notable imprints, such as Howard Books, Scribner, and Touchstone, and they release over 2,000 books a year! Some of their biggest titles as of late are Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat and The Institute by Stephen King. Founded in 1924, Simon & Schuster remains a prominent publisher today, with many names and genres, and opportunities behind it.

HarperCollins

With an annual revenue of $1.5 billion, HarperCollins has no shortage of good books and authors. Their notable imprints include Avon Romance, Harlequin Enterprises, Harper, and William Morrow, and their titles range broadly. Some of the top books as of late are Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis and The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin. With over 100 imprints, this publishing powerhouse no doubt has a niche for your book, and has no shortage of chances to learn about the industry from the best.

Macmillan Publishers

From 1843 to now, Macmillan Publishers is still going strong. With $1.4 billion in annual revenue, there are many publishing routes and imprints available through them, namely Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Picador, and Thomas Dunne Books. Some of their biggest titles from the recent past that you may have heard of include The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah and Me by Elton John. With a global market and countless possible genres to publish under, you’d be wise to consider them an ideal place for your book to end up.

Penguin Random House

With over 15,000 books published a year, there’s no doubt in my mind that Penguin Random House is one of the top five, if not the top of the top five. Their annual revenue exceeds $3.3 billion, and they have countless notable imprints such as Knopf Doubleday, Crown Publishing, and Viking Press. They have many famous authors under their wing, and books like The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, and The Guardians by John Grisham. With over 200 imprints and divisions, you’ll no doubt find a home for your novel here, and maybe also your career.

Hachette Livre

Looking for a European based publisher with more published books a year than Penguin? Hachette Livre has an annual revenue of $2.7 billion and nearly 200 imprints. Some of these include Grand Central Publishing, Little, Brown and Company, and Mulholland Books.

Their biggest titles in the recent past include Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell and Little Weirds by Jenny Slate. Growing steadily since their merger in 1992, Hachette Livre has a lot to offer both you and your book.

Best Educational Book Publishers

Looking for a reliable and quality educational book publisher? This can be more difficult than you think, but thankfully I’m here to shorten the list a bit for you. These publishers are looking specifically for educational books, quality hardback textbooks and the like. This may not apply to your manuscript, but if it does, read on!

Bertelsmann Education Group

Bertelsmann is a media, services and education company that operates in about 50 countries around the world. The online education and service offerings are primarily in the healthcare and technology sectors, as well as in higher education. With an annual revenue of around $300 million, this group has no shortage of educational texts, resources, and reliable online connections.

Scholastic

I can’t recall how many Scholastic book fairs I went to as a child. Perhaps you went to some as well, given that Scholastic is both an educational publisher and a popular children’s publisher. Their annual revenue is roughly $1.7 billion, and their notable imprints include Arthur A. Levine, Klutz Press, and Orchard Books. While their educational books are extremely popular for grades K-12, their YA fiction remains the most popular (no doubt you’ve heard of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, right?).

Pearson Education

Have you ever used DuoLingo for your language learning needs? Did you know that Pearson Education has recently partnered with them? There’s a lot of other notable mentions surrounding Pearson, such as their annual revenue of $1 billion, and their well-known imprints (Adobe Press, Heinemann, Prentice Hall, Wharton Publishing). Their most popular publications are always subject textbooks for higher education, and for good reason.

McGraw-Hill Education

One of the largest publishers in American education is Mcgraw-Hill. Their annual revenue often exceeds $1.7 billion, and they are well known for their many editions of test prep books (SAT and ACT) and elementary school math textbooks. Their most notable imprints include Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, Macmillan/McGraw-Hill, and McGraw-Hill Higher Education, no doubt familiar to you if you’ve been involved in any American education system.

Wiley

While Wiley has a lot to offer in terms of non-educational publishing, their For Dummies series of educational books has got to be their top seller. With an annual revenue of $1.7 billion, their various instructional titles are big hits in the publishing world. Their most notable imprints include Bloomberg Press, Capstone, Hungry Minds, and Wiley-Blackwell, and they continue to publish a large variety of titles, both educational and otherwise.

Cengage Learning

Publishing both hard cover print books and maintaining a dedicated digital library can be difficult, but Cengage learning can do it all. From imprints that publish specifically for grades K-12 as well as books for higher education learning, Cengage is a wonderful publisher to consider. Cengage is the owner of the National Geographic Education division as well, made to bring excitement to classrooms worldwide. With an annual revenue of $1.7 billion, it’s safe to say that this publisher is a powerhouse.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

You may have already heard of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, or HMH for short. This publisher specializes in different disciplines including business and economics, biography and memoirs, children’s books, cookbooks, health and wellness, and more. They made more than $1.4 billion annually, with many notable imprints: Clarion, Graphia, John Joseph Adams Books, and Sandpiper among them. Their largest and most recent titles include elementary school textbooks in all subjects, as well as cookbooks.

Best Children’s Book Publishers

Some of the top selling books published today are for children or young adults. However, writing and publishing for children and young adults can be difficult if not impossible. Here are some of the best choices for children’s book publishing today, and how you can reach out to them.

Bloomsbury

With offices around the world and prominent publishing houses in both the US and the UK, Bloomsbury Books is a top contender for children’s book publishing. Established in 1986, Bloomsbury has many popular children’s book authors across every age group. With an annual revenue of $150 million, Bloomsbury USA Books for Young Readers was established in 2002. Their YA fiction has grown increasingly popular, their authors often topping the New York Times Bestseller list.

Ladybird Books

UK-based and another division of the Penguin Group, Ladybird books is perfect if you’ve got a bedtime story to tell. Their lineup of children’s books is primarily geared toward younger audiences, from toddlers to roughly age ten. They have many award winning series published under their name, including many Peppa Pig books. Their annual revenue is roughly $17 million.

Chronicle Books

San Francisco-based favourite Chronicle Books, with a $10 million revenue, has a wonderful eye for the unique and aesthetic storyteller. Their children’s books are beloved and unique, and this small independent publisher receives more than 1,000 submissions a month for their YA department alone! They publish most children’s books ideas, including activity books, art books, board books, picture books, chapter books, young adult, games, and gift and stationery items.

Hogs Back Books

Hogs Back Books publishes fiction books aimed at children up to 10, as well as early readers for children up to 14, and teenage fiction. Amongst its most notable titles, Boris the Boastful Frog was recommended by The Telegraph in 2013 as one of the best books of the year for young children. They are a small family-owned and independent publisher, and the small selection that they choose to publish is beautiful and heartfelt.

Arbordale Publishing

With just about $1 million in annual income, Arbordale Publishing isn’t the largest in US children’s publishing. However, their books are aligned to Common Core, Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), as well as state education standards. Arbordale books are vetted by experts and professionals from a variety of organizations including NASA, JPL, Project Learning Tree, USFWS, SeaWorld, the Cherokee Nation and others. They publish an average of 20 books per year.

Immedium

Based in San Francisco, CA, Immedium is influenced by an increasingly diverse world. While they are a small company and make an average of $150k in annual revenue, they have wonderful illustrations and ideas for children’s books. Immedium publishes subjects ranging from eye-catching children’s books to contemporary non-fiction, including commentaries on art, popular culture, and multicultural issues.

Kids Can Press

Kids Can Press is a Canadian-owned publisher of children’s books, with a list of over 500 picture books, non-fiction and fiction titles for toddlers to young adults and an estimated annual revenue of over $10 million. The Kids Can Press list includes characters such as Franklin the Turtle—the single most successful publishing franchise in the history of Canadian publishing, which has sold over 65 million books in over 30 languages around the world.

Quirk Books

Looking for a smaller publishing agency for your unique and captivating children’s book? Publishing only around 25 books a year, Quirk Books is based in Philadelphia and is searching for the most original, cool, and fun ideas out there. Is your book creative enough for Quirk? It’s one of my favourite publishing companies, having taken the helm on series such as the Miss Peregrine anthology by Ransom Riggs.

August House Publishers

A more traditional publishing company, August House Publishers are seeking children’s book authors committed to folktales, diverse and memorable. They enjoy stories from many diverse backgrounds, as well as stories that work well as oral tales, stories meant to be passed on from generation to generation. They also have a soft spot for scary stories and stories that can be used in a classroom environment. With an annual revenue of roughly $10 million, they produce beautiful children’s books.

ABDO Publishing

With almost $50 million a year in revenue ABDO is a formidable children’s book publisher. Based in Edina, Minnesota, this family-owned book publishing company specializes in non-fiction books for the school library market. From engaging nonfiction to illustrated titles, ABDO has both educational and fantastical book titles for children of all ages.

Best Independent Book Publishers

Are you looking for a smaller company to publish your book? You may consider publishing under an independent book publishing company, as there are many benefits. Smaller companies often accept unsolicited submissions, especially if the submission is more unique and experimental in nature. Plus, independent publishers often offer a more hands-on approach for new and inexperienced authors. Let’s check out some of the best in the business!

Autumn House Press

Autumn House Press is an independent, non-profit literary publishing company based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that was founded in 1998. They began as a publishing company strictly for poetry, but they have since expanded to include fiction and nonfiction. Autumn House Press’s especially notable titles include Anxious Attachments by Beth Alvarado and Not Dead Yet and Other Stories by Hadley Moore.

Tupelo Press

Tupelo Press is an American not-for-profit literary press founded in 1999. It produced its first titles in 2001, publishing poetry, fiction and nonfiction. Tupelo Press publishes the winners of its national poetry competitions, as well as manuscripts accepted through general submission. Awards given by Tupelo Press include the Dorset Prize, the Berkshire Prize for a First or Second Book of Poetry, and the Snowbound Series Chapbook Award. They have a lot to offer as an independent book publisher.

Graywolf Press

Graywolf Press is an independent, non-profit publisher located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They publish fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Graywolf Press currently publishes about 27 books a year, including the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize winner, the recipient of the Emily Dickinson First Book Award, and several translations supported by the Lannan Foundation. Their published work is bold and award winning.

New Directions

New Directions was founded in 1936 and they publish about 30 new titles a year. They publish anything regarding literary fiction, poetry, memoir, nonfiction, and their annual revenue is roughly $1 million per year. It was the first American publisher of Henry Miller, Vladimir Nabokov, and Jorge Luis Borges, among others.

Tin House Books

Publisher of award-winning books of literary fiction, nonfiction, and poetry; home to a renowned workshop and seminar series; and partner of a critically acclaimed podcast, Tin House champions writing that is artful, dynamic, and original. While they only publish about two dozen books per year, they are all astounding, and you can learn more about their small operation here.

Europa Editions

Europa Editions is an independent trade publisher based in New York. The company was founded in 2005 by the owners of the Italian press Edizioni E/O and specializes in literary fiction, mysteries, and narrative non-fiction. They have a few imprints, namely Tonga Books, and a series for mysteries known as Europa World Noir.

City Lights Publishers

Known for publishing Howl and other poems by Allen Ginsberg, City Lights Publishers is a great independent publishing option. Founded in 1955, with nearly 300 books in print, City Lights publishes cutting-edge fiction, poetry, memoirs, literary translations and books on vital social and political issues. For over fifty years, City Lights has been a champion of progressive thinking, fighting against the forces of conservatism and censorship.

Forest Avenue Press

Forest Avenue Press, founded in 2012 in Portland, Oregon, publishes literary fiction on a joyride and the occasional memoir. While they are currently a small-scale operation, they are growing in popularity in the Pacific Northwest.

A Publisher For Every Writer

While I hope you found a few excellent book publishers from this list, do keep in mind that there are many more that are worth your consideration. Whether you have an agent or not, there are always publishers seeking the best new stories out there. Yours could very well be one of them!


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