I’m about five months away from the launch of my first novel, When Willows Weep (expected publication in August 2021). It’s a young adult modern fantasy about a girl in the sixth grade of a Waldorf school who finds herself in the midst of an epic battle between good and evil. She discovers she has divine gifts of Sight, Light, and Fight, which she must use to help save her school and community from powerful demonic forces threatening to overwhelm all that is good.
I’ve been writing this novel with the help of Creator Institute, a program that provides weekly instruction on writing the first draft of a book in about sixteen weeks, with the help of a developmental editor to provide feedback on the writing along the way. Based on my progress, I was offered a publishing contract by New Degree Press, which is a hybrid publisher. I could have tried any number of routes to publish my first novel, but I’m committed to this particular hybrid publisher and its specific model for hybrid publishing. This article explains why.
First-Time Authors: Choose Your Method
Lots of people dream of being an author, though very few end up actually writing a book. For those that do, the question then becomes how they should go about getting it published. There’s a whole spectrum of publishing options, but I find it helpful to think of them in four broad categories:
- Traditional Publishing: This is the route most people have in mind, hoping they can somehow get a foot in the door of one of the well-known publishers (Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, etc.) and their many different imprints. While traditional publishing covers book production costs, they then take a significant cut of every book sold in perpetuity and control the rights to the book as well.
- Self-Publishing: With the self-publishing platforms offered by Amazon, it’s easier than ever for an author to offer their book for sale online, including both paperback and eBook editions. You can do this with very little money up-front, but whether or not you end up with a quality final product is the big question.
- Vanity Publishing: This one is for people who have the money needed to cover all the costs of producing a book and are willing to pay up-front, out-of-pocket to get their book published.
- Hybrid Publishing: New Degree Press (NDP) has an interesting model where they support an author to crowd-source funding for book production costs and publishing the book, but doesn’t take a slice of any book sales post-publication and the author retains full control of the book.
The Problems with Traditional Publishing
It’s extremely difficult for any first-time author to get picked up by a big publishing house. Sure, it happens, but it’s very unlikely. Most first-time authors would need the help of a literary agent to even have a chance, and that agent is going to take a slice of every book sale after publication if it happens. That’s on top of what the publisher is also going to take from every book sale.
And the traditional publishing house probably isn’t going to do much of anything to promote your book because you’re an unknown quantity. They only pour money into book promotion for well-established writers they know they can bank on. Many a writer has gone the traditional route only to discover they have little to no control, little if any marketing, and get next to nothing from meager book sales after everyone takes their slice of the pie. What’s left for the author? Mere crumbs, really, and it doesn’t seem right.
Keep in mind I’m talking about all this within the framework of a first-time author. Plenty of people have found great success in traditional publishing, but few would say their experience as a first-time author going the traditional route was satisfying.
The 800-Pound Gorilla in the Room: Book Production Costs
The driving factor around the different publishing models is who is going to pay for the book production costs? If you want to put out a quality product, you need professional help with editing, proofreading, cover design, paperback book interior design/layout/formatting, eBook formatting, hardback design/layout/formatting, and so on. To do all this right in order to have a professional-grade final product, you’re talking thousands of dollars.
In traditional publishing, the publishing house takes care of all those costs for you, but you sign a contract in which they spell out the percentage of every book sale they will take in order to recoup those costs. And if you needed the help of a literary agent to land a publishing deal, that person will also take a significant percentage of every sale. A first-time author in this scenario might see only a couple bucks coming their way out of every book sale. Ouch!
In the self-publishing model, you have to cover those costs yourself, and there is the temptation to cut costs, which can end up resulting in a subpar, less-than-professional final product. And in the vanity publishing model, the first-time author has money to burn and doesn’t mind shelling out to cover book production costs.
The NDP hybrid model provides all the professional services a first-time author needs to launch a quality, professional book. But someone still has to pay for all that. What NDP does is provide guidance to first-time authors in building an audience for your book. You set up a fundraising campaign and pre-sell signed copies of your paperback to people who want to support your publishing journey as well as giving them the opportunity to participate in that journey as beta readers, choosing a cover, and so on. I like this particular hybrid model because it feels like it’s a way to “democratize” publishing for first-time authors in a way that empowers them and allows them to retain full control of their book after it’s published.
And Now, How You Can Help!
So there you have it, folks—the reason I’m going the hybrid publishing route with New Degree Press. And if you’ve read to this point in the article, then I’m asking you to support me and join me on my publishing journey. My pre-launch campaign will be live during the month of April at https://igg.me/at/Sherman2021. Choose a level of support that’s right for you and you’ll become a part of my exclusive author community in which you can participate as much or as little as you want as I go through the publishing process. Your support would mean the world to me. Onward!