Getting Pitch Ready Day Two: Identify Your Publisher
How can you get a feel for which publisher might be a good fit for your book? Each publisher has a "look" in what they publish and then each editor has her / his own tastes, history, and background.
Go to a bookstore and see who is publishing the sort of book that appeals to you. See where your book might fit in. Does your book fit a certain illustration style? Not necessarily the same type of illustration, but perhaps the same way of interacting with a reader? For example: sophisticated, quirky, playful, informative. You will see where your book might fit.
Make a list of publishers. Make sure to list the imprints of the bigger publishers. Imprints act like small publishers within big houses. For example: Schwartz & Wade at Penguin Random House was formed by Anne Schwartz and Lee Wade. They publish a very different looking list than other imprints at Penguin Random House.
Identify at least five publishers/imprints that you feel aligned with. Next, you want to see the range of the books on their list within the last couple years. I just found this handy little search option at Brooklyn Public Library. You can search by publisher. When you search by publisher you will see many books from one publisher / imprint. See if you can search by publisher at your local library and order those books. If your library doesn't have that search option, you can search the publisher at Amazon and then order those books from your library. You can also go to the publisher's website and see their current list, but I think you get a better sense from actually reading the books they have produced.
Here is an Amazon search for Schwartz & Wade. Notice I searched in the department "Children's books". The first image is sorted by the default "relevance". The next one is sorted by "publication date". It's more helpful to see the most current books.
It may be helpful to chart your publishers by starting with the big houses to see which imprints are within each house. There are also a growing number of small independent publishers.
Some major publishing houses include:
Penguin Random House
Simon & Schuster
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Here is a chart I found online from 2016 with 5 major publishers and imprints:
(Click on the word chart to access it.)
List: The range of books published within a season by a publisher or imprint of a publisher.
Imprint: Imprints could be described as small publishers acting independently under a bigger publishing house. An official description of imprint: An imprint of a publisher is a trade name under which it publishes a work. A single publishing company may have multiple imprints, often using different names as brands to market works to various types of consumers.