When I self-published my first five books, I kept running up against what my mentor calls “unconscious incompetence.” Essentially, you don’t know what you don’t know.
After helping a number of friends through the maze of self-publishing with their books, I ultimately started my own publishing company, Emerald Lake Books.
The way I see it, not everyone enjoys or has the skills to clean their own homes, balance their own checkbook, grow their own food, or repair their own cars. And so that’s why house cleaners, bookkeepers, accountants, farmers, garages and mechanics became viable professions.
That’s why I started my own hybrid publishing company. I was willing to dig into how to publish books successfully. It was a topic that interested me, but I realized it wasn’t something that everyone would want to dive into to the same extent I was willing to do.
With publishing, there’s a middle ground between having a traditional publisher publish your work and having to figure it all out yourself (which is likely to be frustrating, ineffective and unenjoyable for many). Unfortunately, that middle ground is often maligned by people who believe that paying to have your book published is wrong.
While there are many who will tell you that if you have to pay a publisher to publish your book, it’s a scam, that’s an outdated notion. Yes, unfortunately, there are companies out there that will scam you, as with any profession. But there are also many reputable hybrid publishers in existence as well.
Not everyone is interested in learning how to publish their books themselves. They may have a business to run or a family to take care of. Or they just want to preserve more time for writing. For these people, going through the process self-publishing would take precious time away from things they care more about.
At the same time, not every book is viable for a traditional publisher to pick up. Perhaps your platform isn’t big enough yet or your marketing plan needs more work. Or maybe you simply don’t want to give up so much of the creative control over your book or to wait a couple of years before it comes out.
That’s when working with a reputable hybrid publisher can be a real benefit to authors. For those authors who want more creative control or shorter timelines, working with a hybrid publisher might just be the solution they’re looking for. It’s a great idea too for those who want an experienced project team to produce a quality book from the manuscript and ideas they’ve written, but don’t want to have to do it themselves. That’s where companies like mine fill a genuine need.
It’s no longer true that every publisher who charges you to publish your work is out to scam you. The Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) has put together nine criteria that define a reputable hybrid publishing company. (You can view the criteria at IBPA Hybrid Publisher Criteria.)
The IBPA’s Hybrid Publisher Criteria points to functions that a reputable hybrid publisher is expected to perform, including:
- Define a mission and vision for its publishing program.
- Vet submissions.
- Publish under its own imprint(s) and ISBNs.
- Publish to industry standards
- Ensure editorial, design, and production quality.
- Pursue and manage a range of publishing rights.
- Provide distribution services.
- Demonstrate respectable sales.
- Pay authors a higher-than-standard royalty.
I’m happy to say that Emerald Lake Books adheres to all of these criteria.
Not everyone is cut out to publish their own work. And while many people enjoy it, don’t feel bad if you don’t personally or if you’d rather hire someone to help you get it done. There are other solutions out there. (I’d be happy to have you consider us.)
Do your homework before you chose anyone to work with, and you may just find the best of both worlds: a ready-made team to partner with you to produce the book you’ve always wanted!