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New York Major Publishers

This list, my friends, represents the Big Bad New York Publishing World.

Yes, this is it. Within the professional literary community, these major publishers, which were formerly as "The Sister Six" — until Random House swallowed up Penguin Group at the end of 2012. Now, they're "The Sister Five".

Not as awesome as you might imagine, especially considering there are only about a half dozen of them. But within each one has a slew of divisions and imprints, generally organized by category and genre of the books that they publish, distribute, and market (<--click the link if you really feel a burning desire to understand "the slew"). And several of these New York Major Publishers are under the control of a massive, parent-media conglomerate. For example, publicly-traded News Corp. owns HarperCollins and CBS Media owns Simon & Schuster. So, yeah... deep pockets.

In addition, there are several mid-sized publishers to which literary agents regularly sell their clients' work because these mid-sized publishers also pay decent advances, have a strong distribution network, and a good track record for significant sales.

Do we believe that this list represents the "end-all, be-all" of publishing?

Absol-freaking-lutely not.

Independent Presses and Literary Magazines offer alternative publishing opportunities for published and non-published writers alike. Moreover, it's hard to ignore that persistent Seventh Red-headed Step-sister,, who increasingly finds new ways to crash the publishing party of her more traditional Publishing Sisters who still love the look, feel, smell of a printed book. The explosion of eBooks, eReaders, iPads, and PC Tablets means that previously unpublished writers can become "published" by simply converting their manuscript into a digital file and uploading it for sale on the internet with only a few clicks of a button.

But ultimately, it's a book deal with the The Sister Five Publishers (and technically, one of their many imprints) that your literary agent should attempt to chase—first and foremost—on your behalf. It's the Sister Five who have the deep pockets to pay the hefty six-figure advances, rent space on tables in Barnes and Noble to advertise their prized books, garner book reviews in the most prestigious of glossy magazines, and whisk their rising-star authors around the country on a fifteen city book tour—all in a frenzied, frantic push to sell, sell, sell the most “units” of their newest release. For most wannabe writers, this is the fantasy — our book in major bookchains, an author’s tour, and of course, the I-can-quit-my-dayjob-mega advance.

For this reason, these Major Publishers still dominate the traditional print publishing scene — a churning indomitable black hole sucking in commercial matter from every corner of the publishing universe.

And so, we offer this list to educate you. We don’t offer this list as a means for you to research each Major Publishers' imprints and their editors in order to send off your unsolicited manuscript straight into their slush piles. Please don’t do that. You will regret it. Spend your time writing, revising, and finding a good literary agent who will navigate the New York Publishing Big Boys for you. A good literary agent will help bring you into the popular crowd by representing you and your manuscript to the editors who will buy its rights and publish your book.