Mainstream American Publishers Launch Large Number of Imprints Focused on Black Books at the Start of the 21st Century

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Editor’s Note (August 8, 2015):
The publishing world has changed a great deal since this page was originally created back in 2000.  The “Big Six” publishers (now “Big Five” with the merger of Penguin and Randonhouse in 2013) continued to increase their investment in Black books by launching several imprints led by Black editors.

This investment did not last, and was subsequently scaled back. Several of the newly launched imprints, including a few listed below did not last more than a few years.  As a result, many well known African American authors found it increasingly difficult to get new books published.  Those that did get deals recieved smaller advances than in the past. Black editors and other professionals, in the large publishing houses, began to lose their jobs.

Some independent publishers, like Akashic books, picked up the slack by publishing talented writers like Elizabeth NunezBernice McFadden, Colin Channer, and Preston L. Allen.

However, the reduction in the number of Black owned bookstores, websites, and print publications, who traditionally provided a platfrom for Black books has greatly reduced the visibility of the books that were available.  This gave readers the impression that fewer good books were being published. Today Amazon sells the vast majority of new Black books and more than 2/3's of the most popular books read by African American readers are published by just 3 conglomerates

All of this contributes to making the environment for Black books more challenging than in the last 15 years.’s publishers section contains information on publishers who express an interest in, or exclusively publish the work of African American authors.

New York, NY (September 21, 2006)—VIBE Media Group and Kensington Publishing announced today the acquisition of the first title in the VIBE Street Lit franchise, Death Around the Corner, by famed rapper C-Murder. The inaugural title will be released in trade paperback on December 26, 2006.

G-Unit Books, Hip hop star 50 Cent's new book publishing line at MTV/Pocket Books.  Roy Glenn associate publisher of Urban Books introduces Urban Soul to debut in Summer of 2006.

One World Launches Nikki Turner Book Line - Nikki Turner Presents  "...Nikki Turner Presents, a line of urban fiction titles written by new and original authors. The line will publish two to three books each year beginning in 2007. Turner joins such African American writers as Zane (at Strebor at Simon & Shuster) and Carl Weber (Urban Books at Kensington) who have set themselves up as publishers aligned with, and supported by, large houses."

"Growing Publishing Market For African-American Readers"
Imprint or sub-imprint Parent Company Books 
Amistad Press Founded 1986 HarperCollins  Under new ownership First books 
One World Founded 1992 Ballantine/Random House Now expanding into commercial fiction and more 
HarperTrophy HarperCollins Long-established imprint to add women's romances 
Jump at the Sun Founded 1998 Hyperion/Disney Publishing 20 children's books a year
Dafina Books Kensington Publishing Fiction and nonfiction debuted in September [2000]
Walk Worthy Press Warner Books Christian-themed novels debuted in September [2000]
Strivers Row Villard/Random House  Fiction debuted in January [2001]
Harlem Moon Broadway/Random House Originals and reprints, debuts 2002 fiction and nonfiction
Principal source: New York Daily News, Tuesday, December 12, 2000 


Pros and Cons of Mainstream and Self-Publishing

by C. Liegh McInnis

There are two basic routes to getting published, mainstream and self-publishing.  Mainstream is when you submit your work to a publishing company to have them publish it.  Self-publishing is when you decide to publish your own books.  They both can be equally effective although the mainstream manner is the most respected because it has an aura or illusion of validation.  Where self-publishing does not offer the validation from the establishment, it offers a satisfaction of artistic and economic control of one's work.