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The literary world’s most popular authors have found their way into the hearts of readers through their unique, unforgettable storytelling. Some of those authors have also helped other authors through mentoring, offering feedback on manuscripts, and promoting the work of other writers. But a small number of authors have gone even further to bring fresh, fascinating new books into the world: starting their own imprints. Leading an imprint allows authors to uplift the voices of lesser-known writers, and as publishing insiders themselves, authors have critical insight into the work of creating books and what readers are looking for. Below, I’ve highlighted six notable authors with their own publishing imprints.
Some authors have established independent imprints in order to publish their own work, as well as some books by other authors. But each of the imprints below was created in partnership with other publishing companies, including Big Five publishers as well as small, independent publishers. It’s difficult to know just how involved each author is in the selection and editing of the books their imprints release, but these authors have all expressed in interviews that they intend to be intimately involved in the publishing process in some way, whether it’s through reading submissions or editing manuscripts themselves. In any case, these authors, with their own publishing imprints, are doing great work to introduce the world to new points of view and diversifying the literary landscape.
Roxane Gay — Roxane Gay Books
Roxane Gay burst onto the literary scene with her 2014 bestselling essay collection Bad Feminist. She proceeded to spend several years pushing out incredible books across genres at a superhuman pace, including fiction, memoirs, and Marvel comics, plus teaching, penning advice columns, editing anthologies, and writing for the screen. Now, Gay is taking her eye for unique storytelling to her own publishing imprint, Roxane Gay Books, a part of Grove Atlantic. The imprint was announced in 2021 with plans to publish three books per year across fiction, nonfiction, and memoir, with a particular focus on diverse voices. The first three titles from Roxane Gay Books were released this year, all of which are fiction. And based on the fascinating stories they tell, I can’t wait to see what comes next.
And Then He Sang a Lullaby by Ani Kayode Somtochukwu
The first title released by Roxane Gay Books was And Then He Sang a Lullaby, a powerful and lyrical tale of August, a young track star who leaves his Nigerian hometown for college with the weight of his family’s expectations on his shoulders. As August tries to be the perfect son and student, he falls for the kind, beautiful, openly gay barista at a local cybercafé. It’s a stunning debut by an author we’re sure to see more from in the future.
Lush Lives by J. Vanessa Lyon
The second book released by Roxane Gay Books is a vibrant, sexy, queer contemporary romance about an artist named Glory who, while working tirelessly to gain a foothold in the art world, inherits a Harlem brownstone in need of a lot of work. Glory teams up with Parkie, a driven appraiser who also has something to gain from the property, but as they explore the home’s history and hidden treasures, they discover Glory’s late Aunt Lucille had some fascinating secrets.
Hot Springs Drive by Lindsay Hunter
The most recent release from Roxane Gay Books is a layered mystery/thriller about suburban secrets and dangerously toxic friendships. Jackie and Theresa have been best friends since they met in a maternity ward. Theresa has the perfect life Jackie craves: the sweet and well-behaved daughter, the ability to stay thin, and an adoring husband — with whom Jackie has a torrid affair. When Theresa is found brutally murdered, both of their family’s dark secrets come to the surface.
Gillian Flynn — Gillian Flynn Books
Gillian Flynn’s blockbuster psychological thriller Gone Girl changed the mystery landscape, and plenty of crime writers today are still trying to imitate her success. Flynn has also written thrillers Sharp Objects and Dark Places, as well as writing mysteries and crime series for the screen. Now, she’s supporting other mystery, thriller, and crime authors with uniquely gripping perspectives through Gillian Flynn Books, an imprint of independent publisher Zando, which was started by Flynn’s former editor, Molly Stern. Check out their first three releases below.
Scorched Grace by Margot Douaihy
Of course, Gillian Flynn’s imprint is the home of one of the most talked about mysteries of the year, Margot Douaihy’s Scorched Grace. The novel introduces us to a cursing, chain-smoking, tattooed, punk music-playing queer nun named Sister Holiday. When someone keeps setting fires at the New Orleans Catholic school where Sister Holiday teaches, she doesn’t trust the cops to find the truth and decides to find the annoying arsonist herself. It’s the first in a series; the sequel, Blessed Water, is slated for release on March 12, 2024.
The Centre by Ayesha Manazir Siddiqi
Gillian Flynn Books’s second release combines a mystery plot with elements of horror, sci-fi, and satire. Anisa is tired of living off of her parents and translating Bollywood films when her true dream is translating high-brow literature. When she hears about a language school that promises to teach her full fluency in any language in just over a week, it seems too good to be true. Anisa quickly learns that her new school is hiding a terrible secret. It’s a darkly funny, thought-provoking, unforgettable novel.
One of the Good Guys by Araminta Hall (January 9, 2024)
Gillian Flynn’s thrillers have a compelling ability to question what goes on behind closed doors for seemingly normal families. That’s also a powerful theme in this upcoming thriller by Araminta Hall. Cole has always thought of himself as one of the good guys, so he was distraught when the marriage he poured his heart into fell apart. After moving to the countryside, he thinks he might have found his new soulmate in his neighbor Leonora, an introverted artist. But when two young women protesting gendered violence go missing in Cole and Leonora’s area, they find themselves the center of the investigation and realize there’s a lot they don’t know about each other.
David and Nicola Yoon — Joy Revolution Books
David Yoon and Nicola Yoon are a bookish power couple you should know. Nicola Yoon is the author of bestselling YA novels Everything, Everything, and The Sun is Also a Star. David Yoon has written everything from YA romances like Frankly in Love to adult sci-fi thrillers like Version Zero. In 2020, they announced they were embarking on a lifelong dream of leading a publishing imprint dedicated to diverse romance, Joy Revolution Books, in partnership with Penguin Random House. Here are some of their first titles.
Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute by Talia Hibbert
Talia Hibbert gained a cult following with her hilarious and heart-melting Brown Sisters trilogy. And earlier this year, Hibbert made her YA romance debut with Joy Revolution Books. Brad and Celine used to be best friends, but now Brad has gone full-on cool kid by becoming a star football player, while Celine has left high school popularity behind to focus on the viral following of her social media conspiracy theories. Now they’re more rivals than friends. But when Brad and Celine end up in the same survival course, they’ve got to work together to make it through the woods and win a grand prize.
Queen Bee by Amalie Howard
One of Joy Revolution Books’s first releases is a scandalous YA regency romance by Amalie Howard. Queen Bee tells the story of Lady Ela Dalvi, who has been hiding away in the English countryside ever since being betrayed and publicly humiliated by her best friend over a boy. Determined to get her revenge on her traitorous friend, Ela disguises herself as an intriguing single heiress and reenters the social scene. But when she encounters the only man she ever loved, Ela questions if it’s really revenge she wants or something else entirely.
House Party edited by justin a. reynolds
Lots of beloved authors got in on the Joy Revolution Books party with this short story anthology set around an epic house party. Seniors from across the social stratosphere at Florence Hills High all come together for one last blowout at a megamansion, and romantic tensions are high. Stories from Angeline Boulley, Natasha Díaz, Ryan La Sala, and more weave together a diverse portrait of young adults looking for love and connection before taking their next big steps after high school.
Kwame Alexander — Versify
Kwame Alexander is a stunningly prolific writer of children’s prose, poetry, and picture books. He’s won just about every literary award for young people’s literature for books, including The Undefeated, The Door of No Return, The Crossover series, and more. And in 2018, his impact on the world of children’s books got even bigger when he announced he’d be leading HarperCollins’s new imprint, Versify. Versify seeks to publish a wide variety of children’s experiences through diverse picture books, novels, and nonfiction. Check out a few of their most recent releases below.
¡Vamos! Let’s Go Read by Raúl the Third, colors by Elaine Bay
In the latest book in the ¡Vamos! series by award-winning author/illustrator Raúl the Third, published by Versify, Little Lobo and his friends visit the Guadalupian Library’s annual book festival. Each character has a different book they’re hoping to find and also finds something new and exciting to explore. It’s a delightful celebration of reading and the libraries that help us discover new worlds.
Slime Shop by Karina Garcia, and Kevin Panetta, and Niki Smith
This Versify graphic novel comes from the mind of YouTube Slime Queen Karina Garcia. Three friends run a colorful slime shop, but little do they know that at night when the store is closed, the slime comes to life for squishy adventures. It’s a story of friendship, silly humor, and zombie slime. Who could ask for anything more?
The Many Fortunes of Maya by Nicole D. Collier
The Many Fortunes of Maya is a middle grade novel starring 12-year-old Maya, who collects fortune cookie wisdom to help her solve her life’s biggest questions. Maya crafts a “Wheel of Fortunes,” a spinning cardboard circle with her fortune cookie collection to use whenever she feels uncertain of her future. But as she uses it, Maya wonders if she’s brave enough to write her own fortune and shape her own destiny.
Cynthia Leitich Smith — Heartdrum
Cynthia Leitich Smith is a bestselling author of children’s and young adult books, including Hearts Unbroken, Jingle Dancer, the Tantalize series, and many more. A member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, Leitich Smith is passionate about Indigenous stories that center Native kids and teens. She brings even more of these books to life with her imprint Heartdrum, a collaboration with HarperCollins Canada and We Need Diverse Books. These books for kids ages 8+ are especially focused on the present and future of North American Indigenous land and people. Since it was announced in 2019, Heartdrum has released an impressive number of books, including these recent titles.
Two Tribes by Emily Bowen Cohen
This Heartdrum middle grade graphic novel inspired by the author’s own life is a beautiful story of coming of age across cultures. Mia is adapting to life after her parents’ divorce, now that her Muscogee father has a new family in Oklahoma and her new stepdad has brought his Jewish traditions into Mia’s home. As she struggles to fit in at her new Jewish day school, Mia plots to use her bat mitzvah money on a secret bus trip to visit her father.
Jo Jo Makoons: Snow Day by Dawn Quigley, illustrated by Tara Audibert
Dawn Quigley has written three books in the Jo Jo Makoons children’s chapter book series with Heartdrum. In her latest, Jo Jo has been learning about being active and healthy in school. When a snowstorm wins her a day off from class, Jo Jo uses it to get the other children and elders in her Ojibwe community to take part in an epic Winter Olympics competition.
Rez Ball by Byron Graves
In addition to excellent children’s and middle grade books, Heartdrum also publishes excellent YA novels, like this one starring an Ojibwe teen named Tre Brun. After the devastating loss of his brother, Tre throws himself wholeheartedly into Red Lake Reservation’s high school basketball team. He dreams of playing in the NBA, and when Tre’s brother’s friends bring him into their group, the state championship might be within reach.
Rick Riordan — Rick Riordan Presents
Rick Riordan is the author of the massively popular Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, which includes seven books in which Greek gods inhabit the contemporary world. According to Riordan, he was frequently asked by readers to publish new series based on different mythologies. That’s what inspired him to partner with Disney-Hyperion for his imprint, Rick Riordan Presents. Through this imprint, Riordan promotes diverse, adventurous middle grade series inspired by mythologies around the globe. Since launching in 2018, Rick Riordan Presents has released books each year across a variety of series. Here are some of their latest titles.
Fox Snare by Yoon Ha Lee
The Thousand Worlds trilogy by Yoon Ha Lee is a Korean mythology-inspired space opera starring animal spirits in a variety of galactic adventures. This final book in the series follows fox spirit Min and her ghost brother Jun trying to bring peace between the Sun Clans and the Thousand Worlds. But their knowledge is put to the test when Min and Jun find themselves trapped on a death planet with a dragon spirit and a tiger spirit.
Dawn of the Jaguar by J.C. Cervantes
In this second half of the Shadow Brujas duology, J.C. Cervantes takes readers on a magical journey through Mayan mythology. Ren Santiago chose death over becoming an evil queen of the Aztec Lords of Night. Now, she must return to the land of the living to save her friends, but she’ll have to bargain with the queen of the underworld to get there.
Serwa Boateng’s Guide to Witchcraft and Mayhem by Roseanne A. Brown
Roseanne A. Brown introduced the world to Ghanaian folklore-inspired preteen vampire hunter in Serwa Boateng’s Guide to Vampire Hunting. Now Serwa is back, and her world is upended when she learns she’s part vampire herself. She looks to her beloved aunt for advice on embracing her vampire side, and her aunt gives her an even bigger mission: freeing her grandmother’s spirit from a drum in the Smithsonian Museum of African Art.