Large and Small Publishers from Pete Masterson

Large and Small Publishers from Pete Masterson


Brenda and I felt our focus on Success Tips was more popular than our longer posts. Google Analytics disagrees. I willing to do longer posts if that is what you prefer. I gain a wealth of knowledge from various publishers and most are willing to allow me to pass it on. In this industry, I think you need to rely on continual learning from those who have knowledge and opinions to share. I’m happy to post longer blogs.

In this case, the questions was asked about who are the top publishers and small publishers. Pete Masteron, Author of Book Design and Production:A Guide for Authors and Publishers , has provided one of the more complete answers I’ve seen. Pete gave us permission to use his copy.

Figures below are from various years, the Largest world-wide are from 2007, the market share list is from 2008, if I read my notes correctly. There are a dozen or so mega-publishers (owned by large media companies).

For example, Thomson ($7+ billion revenue), Pearson ($7+ billion), Bertelsmann ($6+ billion), Reed Eisevier ($6+ billion), etc. http://www.scribd.com/doc/4207879/top-guns-publishers> for a list of the top 15 publishers in the world based on total revenues. The ten larges US Publishers (by market share) are: Top Ten Trade Publishers Rank Publisher Market Share 1 Random House 17.2% 2 HarperCollins 13.3% 3 Simon & Schuster 9.2% 4 Penguin 8.7% 5 Hachette 5.9% 6 Thomas Nelson 4.8% 7 St. Martin’s 3.2% 8 Tyndale 1.9% 9 John Wiley & Sons 1.7%
10 Scholastic
1.6% Total Top Ten 67.5%.

Most of these to 10 US publishers are owned by the publishers in the first list I referenced. So, most of the household publisher names you might be familiar with are owned by one of these 10. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_UK_book_publishers> for the largest UK publishers (some are also the largest US publishers). These large publishers have been buying up some of the medium size publishers. For example, 10-Speed Press, a Berkeley CA based medium sized publisher, was bought out by the Crown Publishing Group, which is a division of Random House (the Largest U.S. publisher).

Note that the top 10 US publishers have about 2/3 of the market of all books sold. That leave 1/3 of the market to the medium size and small size publishers. There are, perhaps, a hundred or two hundred medium sized publishers (depending on how you classify the relative sizes). These are often specialty publishers — some having started as single book publishers or self publishers. Nolo Press and Stone Bridge Press (both in Berkeley, CA), both started as self-publishers more than 20 years ago. Each has grown into a specialty publishing company. Nolo specializes in legal books for consumers (and there are some good titles on Copyright that small publishers on this list might use) while Stone Bridge specializes in the language, art, and culture of Japan (in English).

Finally, there are thousands of small or self publishers. These I classify as those who have published fewer than 10 titles and who have, in many cases, only published work authored by the owner or a close relative. (I fall into this category.) If you are seeking a publisher, you can try at all levels. Keep in mind that smaller publishers may not offer the advance that the larger publishers offer — but they are more likely to work to make your book a success — and give a title time to reach its market and sell.

The largest publishers often cast aside books after 90 days or so, removing them from active sales or even sending them out of print, unless sales are very strong.) [MDH note: I’ve found some cast aside after 30 days.]

Some of the medium size and small size publishers may be willing to publish on a “co-publishing” arrangement where cost and risk is shared with the author. You need to be very careful to consider such offers to ensure that it isn’t just a “subsidy” publishing deal. The publisher’s list should be substantially all “traditional” titles with less than 10% falling into co-publishing deals.

The publisher should have enough into the deal that they really need to sell a reasonable quantity of books to make the deal pay off. I strongly recommend reading the following books so you can better understand publishing:

The Self Publishing Manual — now in the 16th Edition Dan Poynter Para Publishing ISBN 978-156860-142-7 Currently $13.57 at Amazon.com.

Dan Poynter is often considered the primary guru of self (independent) publishing. He was involved in the birth of what is now IBPA (see http://www.ibpa-online.org) and he has been highly supportive of independent publishing for many years. He has several other books on publishing and writing that are worthwhile as well.

The Complete Guide to Self Publishing — 5th Edition to be released 2010 Marilyn Ross and Sue Collier Writers Digest Books ISBN 978-1582977188 Tom and Marilyn Ross are founders of Small Publishers of North America (SPAN). Visit the SPAN web site at http://www.spannet.org. Marilyn Ross wrote the 5th edition with Sue Collier as Tom has ceased writing following a stroke.

The above two books cover the same ground with a fair amount of detail. Some find one or the other more to their liking. Many find it helpful to read both as the topics are covered a bit differently by each author.

The Publishing Game: Publish a book in 30 days Fern Reiss ISBN 1-8932908-5-9. Fern Reiss has written a series of books under the general title of “The Publishing Game”. The books address various aspects of publishing. This title covers self-publishing. It is a different approach than the other 2 books. It’s somewhat shorter, but more directed with specific steps to accomplish day by day. (Note, the “in 30 days” requires almost single minded effort — but most find her books useful as a step-by-step guide, even if it takes a bit longer than “in 30 days.”)

Book Design and Production: A Guide for Authors and Publishers Pete Masterson, Aeonix Publishing Group ISBN 0-9669819-0-1. See http://www.aeonix.com for information and to order. This is, “my” book. All of the preceding books gloss over the book production aspect of publishing — probably because none of the authors have been that involved with the process. I wrote this book to fill the gap. Dan Poynter wrote the foreword. Currently, the book is available for $19.77 (a 34% discount) from Amazon.com.

Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers Shel Horowitz AWM Books 978-0-9614666-3-3 Shel Horowitz is an expert at marketing and has published several books on affordable, ethical, effective marketing methods and strategies. This is his first book directed specifically for authors and publishers. Includes two full-length marketing plans — very helpful to those starting out… 1001 Ways To Market Your Book (6th edition is current) John Kremer Open Horizons ISBN 0-912411-49-X This is the book of books for book marketing. Out of a thousand (and one) ideas, there are surely a few that will apply to your project. This massive book is the “bible” of book marketing. Of course you won’t use all 1001 ways — but surely there are a number of activities you’ll find that can help you sell your books or even just write an effective press release.

The Publishing Game: Bestseller in 30 Days Fern Reiss ISBN 1-893290-88-3 Similar in style to the other books by Fern Reiss, this book looks at the publicity aspects of selling your book. Fern’s books tend toward check lists and step by step (daily) suggested actions. As with all of her “… in 30 days” titles, the schedule my not be practical for most — but taken at a more moderate pace, the suggestions are likely to generate good results for most publishers, even if it takes a little longer to accomplish.

The Prepublishing Handbook (now out of print — check your library!) (used copies also available through Amazon.com Marketplace) Patricia J. Bell Cat’s-paw Press ISBN 0-9618227-2-4 This book is more of a listing of the negatives of self publishing. It’s a good “reality check” although it’s a bit dated. It’s out of print, but you may be able to find it at a library or get a used copy from Amazon. You should be able to order these books from your favorite local or online bookseller or get them from a library.

You can contact Pete Masteron, Author of Book Design and Production:A Guide for Authors and Publishers through www.aeonix.com.

Naturally, I would like to add our book, “Success, Your Path to a Successful Book.” You can see Dan Poynter and Brian Judd’s endorsements on www.booksbyhills.com.


Maralyn D. Hill, President
International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association
Books By Hills
Success With Writing Where & What in the World
Member: Society of Professional Journalists

Finalist in the Writing and Publishing category of the 2009 Next Generation Indie Book Awards,
“$uccess, Your Path to a Successful Book,”

4 Responsesto “Large and Small Publishers from Pete Masterson”

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