What’s A Publishing Imprint And How Did I Get One?

By Rachel Thompson | Blog

Jan 25

164HSo here I was, all excited that Broken Places finally, finally released (yay!), and I’m in the down and dirty trenches of doing the marketing and setting up the blog tour and connecting with folks on social and blah blah boring stuff you’re already falling asleep, when I get an out of the blue message from the CMO of Booktrope (my publisher), Katherine Fye Sears:

Hey Rach, 

Would you be interested in having your own imprint within Booktrope? One where you can bring stories like yours, about survival and trauma and recovery, to life? Fiction or nonfiction, whatever you think works best. Think of a name. This is your baby.

Blown away.

After I stopped looking around to see if she was talking to another Rach, and then picked myself up off the floor, and shut my mouth that was wide open from the shock of it all, I somehow mumbled a coherent, ‘Okay, sure,’ and then proceeded to jump up and down for awhile til I got a headache and then I sat my ass down and thought: what the hell is an imprint, anyway? (I mean, I kinda knew (I am in this publishing arena and have been a lifelong reader), but my background is marketing, not publishing so…) Hello, Google?

Since many of you have asked me the same question, I thought I’d spend a moment today discussing it and how it affects you, my indie author friends, how you too can submit your book to Booktrope, and maybe even be a part of my new Gravity imprint (cool, right?), because your stories MATTER (told you, cool).

Let’s deconstruct.


An imprint typically has a particular theme or mission. According to former lit agent/author Nathan Bransford:

Basically it’s the name on the spine of a book, usually a division or a group within a larger publisher. The major publishers are made up of literally dozens of imprints, and they’re not all ones that most people know.

People have heard of Penguin. They’ve heard of HarperCollins. They know Random House and Knopf and Doubleday and Harlequin and a few others.

Imprints matter to publishers and agents and somewhat to booksellers as they help organize the company into various divisions. You can get a sense of the “flavor” of a book by knowing who is publishing it, and agents know where to send projects. 

In this case, the focus of Gravity is on stories of trauma and recovery — any kind, either fiction or nonfiction. So far, we have books on surviving domestic abuse, incest, bipolar, anxiety, and an anthology from Stigma Fighters. Booktrope can, and has, published books like this already, like Broken Pieces and Broken Places, but by creating an imprint specifically for these types of books, they are making a smart marketing move — combining my author platform, advocacy, and connections (along with the authors we bring on) with their already established and thriving publishing system. It’s a win/win.

I don’t think that just because they offered it to me and because I think I’m all that — they have other imprints already and have had great success: Vox Dei (Christian), Edge (BDSM and thriller), and Entice (erotica). See all their books by genre here.


Booktrope is a hybrid publisher. That means that the costs of the creation of the book is on them, like a traditional house, and all authors have to submit their work via a screening process, also like a traditional house. What makes them different is their team approach — you can read all the specifics here in this wonderful explanation by CMO Katherine Fye Sears — so I won’t go into it here. Basically, you make more because you are involved in the entire process (typically 33% or more).

Here’s a sample breakdown of their financial revenue split.

If you are an indie author and already have books out, Booktrope will want to take a look, see if they pass muster — they want quality work.Yes, they do repubs. They’ll look at your author platform and social media, because you will be doing your own marketing (with help from a book manager). The belief that once you sign a contract, all your marketing is done for you is a fallacy, even for the big names in traditional publishing. Get over that thought right now! Why do people think that? Even Anne Rice is on Twitter. I mean.

If you have no books out but want to submit a WIP or partial MS or even some essays or short stories, I say go for it. Why not? Their submissions window is open. Take a shot. Here’s the link to submit your work. And if you think your story is appropriate for my ‘Gravity’ imprint, mention that in your submission.*

*To be clear, I do not work for Booktrope and am not involved in the submissions process. All submissions must go directly through them.


It’s cool if this isn’t for you. It’s not for everyone. Or maybe it is, but you’re just not ready yet. What to do in the meantime? Obviously, keep writing. You can’t sign a contract for a book without well, a book, or at least part of one. And your work needs to be great — even if you publish it yourself, it needs to be amazing. That’s a no-brainer, right?

I shared something on Twitter yesterday about editing and a guy responded that he couldn’t afford an editor and therefore was uploading his P.O.S. (his words) as is, even though he knew it was ‘riddled with errors.’ Dude. Just, no. Back the truck up!

I get the ‘can’t afford to’ thing, I do. But he can’t afford NOT to. I recommended he connect with the crowdfunding platform PubSlush, which is specifically designed to help authors raise funding for literary projects. The best part about PubSlush? You keep whatever people pledge, unlike Kickstarter and others that pull the funding if you don’t fulfill.

There is no reason any author can’t afford an editor or great covers or whatever we need to do to make our books great. But first you have to write them!

And start now learning how to utilize social media properly, for all that is holy. I block the ‘buy my book!’ spammers now. I used to try to help them. I don’t have the energy to be yelled at anymore. Don’t be a spammer. Read my articles here, watch what the authors do whom you admire, and learn from them. Build your relationships, your website, your platform, your social…it’s a process, it takes time. Start already.

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo) and entering my free feature giveaway.
Broken Pieces is still going strong, #1 on Amazon’s Women’s (paid) Poetry list. Broken Places is available NOW — yay! from Booktrope.
Don’t miss Author Social Media Boot Camp! Take a look: group sessions for authors on a budget. Now you too can get affordable, effective help FAST! Follow @ASMBootCamp on Twitter and sign up today here!  
All content copyrighted unless otherwise specified. © 2015 by Rachel Thompson, author. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author. 
 Pictures courtesy of http://www.gratisography.com/

About the Author

Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge: How to energize your book sales in a month - created to help authors market their book. She is also the author of Broken Places (one of IndieReader's "Best of 2015" top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in the San Francisco Book Festival), and the multi award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post IndieReader.com, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly. Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs and two live Twitter chats: #BookMarketingChat (co-hosted with TheRuralVA, Emilie Rabitoy) and #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with C. Streetlights and Judith Staff. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.

Leave a Comment:

(16) comments

Scarlet Darkwood January 25, 2015

Very nice post, Rachel. I self publish. But it’s nice to know there are some groups/publishers taking submissions for those who want to “give it a shot.” I’m seeing more openness from publishers, especially smaller ones, these days. I saw an event launch for a new one yesterday, and they are excited about receiving submissions. Thank you for reminding many people there’s hope!

    Rachel Thompson January 25, 2015

    Hi Scarlet! thanks for the reply. It is a good option for so many authors who have self-pub’d (as I did for 4 years) and want more exposure. There are many, many small presses who want money up front and I don’t believe that’s the right option. If they want us, they should pay. That’s why I’m a fan of the hybrid model. They invest in us, and make money if our books sell — so there’s motivation on everyone’s part (involved in that author’s team) to make the book amazing, and to help market it also.

    Booktrope has an angel investment from Amazon also (something I covered in previous articles), so their growth this year has already been phenomenal, and many authors have been picked up by Amazon publishing. That’s a wonderful option, too, and motivating for everyone involved to do great work. There is hope, for sure!

Susan Allison-Dean January 26, 2015

Hi Rachel 🙂
Thank you, as always, for sharing so graciously as you do!

1. If my books have already been independently published, but I want to partner with Booktrope (assuming they would accept my books), what added value would they bring? Do my books have to go through all the creative talent they have or would they tailor the process since my books are already done?

2. Distribution: What do they offer to help distribute my books that I can’t do myself?

If there is someone at booktrope that I should talk to/email directly on these, I’m happy to do that if you could share a name/contact.

Best of luck to you with your new book!

Warm Regards,
Susan Allison-Dean

    Katherine January 28, 2015

    Hi Susan,

    I would be happy to answer your questions! It is probably simplest if I direct you to some documents we have online for authors considering us. The Author Frequently Asked Questions address these questions and many more. You can find the Author FAQ’s here: http://bit.ly/1EqRIqB

    If you still have questions, please let me know and I will be happy to answer them.


      Susan Allison-Dean January 29, 2015

      Thank you, Katherine! That link was very helpful. If my books were approved, ‘as is’, could I sign up for just a book manager on my team for my current two books and then use the full booktrope team for future books?
      Warm Regards,
      Susan Allison-Dean

        Rachel Thompson February 5, 2015

        Hi Susan — Booktrope usually requires a full proof — if it doesn’t pass, then a full edit is required. and then they look at the cover to see if it meets their standards. So they do repubs, but it still has to pass their standards. A project manager walks it through (they get only 4%, but they help quite a bit to get it through the process). Then yes, a BM takes over for promo.

        hope that answers!

          Susan Allison-Dean February 9, 2015

          Thank you, Rachel, yes that helps a lot. I like their profit sharing model, keeps everyone vested in creating the best outcome.

Lloyd Lofthouse January 26, 2015

I never ask anyone to buy my books even when I attend a monthly meeting of the California Writers Club where there is one table dedicated to members selling their work. I never take my books or even a business card to hand out.

I admit that I am an author, Blogger, Tweeter—etc, for better or worse—but I’m not a retailer. I’ll leave that job to Amazon, Nook, The Apple store, Scribid, Kobo, and traditional book stores.

And for other authors asking me to read their books, I wrote a Blog post about that explaining how many books I have to read and the little time I spend reading them because I’m writing most of the time for my Blogs and next book.

    Rachel Thompson February 5, 2015

    Thank you for weighing in, Lloyd. It’s true, we are not retailers. I rarely read other author’s books as well, mostly because I just have so little free time anymore. If I do read them, I’m happy to review, but for me, I can’t make that commitment because my first commitment is family and work, then writing. Sadly, reading has dropped very low on my priority list and to promise someone a review…it will be a promise I will break, so I don’t make it anymore.

    again, thank you for your insights. I read your blog posts for #MondayBlogs and appreciate your insights there as well.

      Lloyd Lofthouse February 5, 2015

      You are welcome.

      I should have mentioned that most of the books I do read, I read with my ears when I’m in the car and that is usually on Tuesday when I drive to a local farmer’s market to shop. On the way home I stop at Costco, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. By the time I’m done, I usually get in a couple of hours of reading with my ears. I probably listen to four or five books for every one that I read with my eyes.

      One of the audio books I recently finished was “The Innocent Man” by John Grisham, but I haven’t written the review yet becasue I’m too busy writing for my Blogs and next book. :o)

        Marj February 21, 2015

        Lloyd: Oh that’s a great way to describe something “read with my ears”. I love it!

Charli Mills January 26, 2015

Congratulations on your imprint, Gravity! Almost tempts me to write about my childhood. I’ve considered it before, but my memories are so shattered, I think it’s just not possible to write a “normal” memoir. Yet, reading about your imprint, an idea came to me: a series of essays that seem random but would reflect what it’s like to have a shattered past. Maybe the seed will grow in the future. More importantly, congratulations on your second Broken series launch because you have a strong and confident voice that helps survivors and speaks to what it is like not to have a voice. You also share amazing marketing information with all writers who are willing to see the great gift that your knowledge is. Thank you for putting out such a strong brand that matters.

    Rachel Thompson February 5, 2015

    thank you so much, Charli! I’m so excited to have my Broken books out, and to be carrying that forward to other authors and their stories.

    I hope you at least consider working on your own story — if not now, in the future. All of our stories matter. Working with an editor helps SO much in helping to organize our thoughts, but I’ll tell you this: get it down first, even if it makes no sense. At least you have something to work with. I call the first draft ‘word vomit’ and that’s okay. Nobody will see that (except maybe your editor). But it’s a start! You can do this.

Rick Gabrielly January 29, 2015

Hey Rach,

LOVE LOVE LOVE your post, and your work, big fan right here!! As I read “The Mancode Exposed” last year, I knew I was hooked! Now I look forward to reading your posts and blogs. This one is infused with hope and celebration for all us authors.

Thank you for tirelessly pushing the edge both in your work and for the indie author community. Congratulations on Gravity, seems like the perfect word for your power! Sending you love and support for the journey ahead. Grateful to be on this path with you!!

xxoo Rick http://www.theMarriageBOSS.com

    Rachel Thompson February 5, 2015

    You’re too kind, Rick, thank you! I am such an author fan and book geek — there can never be enough stories in the world, and I believe the more the merrier.

    I’m so excited about Gravity and bringing those stories out. Such important work! thank you again


[…] standards but hey, I’m a busy girl, what with running a business, being a mom, and now, directing the Gravity Imprint for Booktrope). I can tell you that getting all four of my books to #1 best seller status on Amazon didn’t […]

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