Quickly, within my writing community, I started to hear others talk of their own confusion with Julie's project. Others had questions too. It was then that I approached Julie, who graciously answered every single one of my
Julie was able to answer all of my questions, relieve any doubts I had and EVEN turned me from skeptic to backer!
It is my pleasure today to be able to share all of this with you, as Julie has offered to answer my questions (and maybe your's) on the blog. That's right! Today, I put my friend in the Hot Seat.
I hope you can read this interview with an open-mind. There is a lot of good information here. And with 6 days left to Julie's campaign, perhaps you can find it in you to join me as a backer for this very special project!
|"Wood Ducks" by Susan Eaddy, illustration for MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN|
I understand how this project is not self-publishing, seeing as you have a publisher behind you. However, how is this project different from publishing with a vanity press?
Great question! The author/crowdfunding consultant I’ve been working with throughout this campaign, Scott James, defined hybrid publishing as the following:
1. The publisher has the right to accept or reject the manuscript
2. The publisher has the ability to distribute the manuscript widely to online and physical bookstores.
3. The publisher offers all services required for publishing, including editing, book design, graphic design, art direction, etc.
Little Bahalia, of course, meets all three of those criteria, and I’m glad they accepted my manuscript! In my mind, the biggest difference between hybrid publishing and publishing with a vanity press (or self-publishing), is that you pay the vanity press or self-publishing service and they publish the work without regard to the content. Which by the way, doesn’t mean the content is bad, it just means it’s not vetted by the company offering the publishing services.
What roles have your agent and the publisher played in this project?
My agent was heavily involved in helping me negotiate the contracts between myself and the publisher and the illustrator. Likewise, Little Bahalia played a huge role in providing the contractual structure for the project since it some of the initial financial terms are different from a traditional deal.
Little Bahalia also provided editing of the manuscript, and is now doing art direction with the illustrator, Susan Eaddy. Once the illustrations are complete, they will design the book, produce it, and print it - just as all publishers do.
What about the Kickstarter model was of interest to your publisher? To your agent? And why was Little Bahalia not able to take this on traditionally?
For my agent, this provided a way for her to help me get a book published that we both felt had merit and would be well-received by readers, but for reasons I explain in this video, might not have been picked up by a major publisher. By assisting me in this non-traditional, hybrid deal, she’s kept herself relevant to me, to my career, and she will of course earn her standard 15% commission once the book is in print.
For Little Bahalia, this was an opportunity for them to publish a title they loved but was a bit outside their typical publishing model (digital-first, then print). As an indie publisher with limited resources, as much as they loved the manuscript, Little Bahalia would not have been able to front the initial costs of publishing due to their existing commitments and the nature of their list.
So it really did end up a win-win-win for everyone. I get to publish another book, my agent earns a commission while at the same time learning how to navigate the waters of hybrid publishing contracts, and the publisher gets to publish a book they love and believe will sell once it is in print.
Today publishers are asking their authors to do so much more in terms of promotion for their book. Do you see this model as yet another way that the bulk of “the work” falls on the author?
But make no mistake. Unless you are already a well-established, multiple bestselling author (and in some cases even then), authors must work if they want their books to do well. We can cry all we want about it, but while writing is an art, publishing is a business. I don’t feel I’ve done less work to support A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS than I have crowdfunding MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN.
In other words, the way we work and advocate may vary from book to book, but the fact that we must work and advocate changes not. :-)
What I think is exciting about crowdfunding is that, while it is certainly a huge amount of work, it is an empowering option for authors with great books, solid platforms, and the willingness to “just do it.”
This model sounds like a ton of work and in some cases, stress. What is the benefit for authors versus the traditional publishing model?
In my “Why I am Crowdfunding My Next Picture Book” series on my blog, I discuss several major benefits of crowdfunding (I believe I’ve already addressed the amount of work in the previous question.) They include: creative control; experimenting with new publishing models and sharing with other authors in the process, the time to market, and the ability to demonstrate demand prior to publication. I would encourage your readers to go through that series if they are interested in all of the details.
I am in love with my kidlit writing community. However, my biggest concern is that the writing community becomes a place where fellow writers are constantly asking me for money for their projects. What are your thoughts on this?
Well, when authors promote their books, they’re asking you to buy them. In other words, they’re asking you for money. Crowdfunding is no different except that the request for $ comes earlier in the publication process. In the same way that we couldn’t buy everyone’s book in the kidlit community, even if we wanted to, we can’t contribute to every project that comes along. We buy the ones, or back the ones that resonate the most with us and/or were written by the people closest to us.
The number of people in my network/platform is in the thousands. As I write this post today, there are 154 backers of MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN. Some of them didn’t even come from my network. Clearly there are MANY people in my orbit who chose not to back this project (or never got the word on it or forgot, etc. etc.). And you know what? That’s perfectly okay! I certainly did not have the expectation that everyone I knew would back this project, and I take ZERO offense. I really mean that.
Besides, given the amount of work and initiative it takes to pull off a successful crowdfunding campaign, I think we’re still quite a ways away from it becoming a “commonplace” strategy for authors.
Often a complaint about self-published books is that they “published” before they are “ready.” How does this model uphold the high quality standard that publishers have had in children’s literature?
This model is quite traditional in that the publisher had to accept/acquire the manuscript on its merit.
Furthermore, my agent would not have elected to take this on if she did not believe the book was “ready.” And again, although the funding comes from a different source, everything else (editing, art direction, book design, production) remains the same - conducted by a publisher with vast professional experience with these skills.
Here I must add that all of this CAN be done well with self-published books too. The key is that the author must put together a team to make sure every piece of the publishing puzzle is handled with the same level of expertise and professionalism that comes from a traditional publisher. Some authors may possess some of those skills themselves, but where they are lacking, they need to hire experts to fill in the gaps.
There are very few distribution options for self-published books. Will your book be available in Barnes & Noble, indie bookstores, etc?
Yes, yes, and yes! One advantage of having a publisher is that the published books go into the major book distribution databases and become available to every online or physical book retail in the country.
Julie Hedlund is a Children’s author. She’s had two books published as interactive storybook apps for the iPad by Little Bahalia Publishing -- A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS and A SHIVER OF SHARKS. A print version of TROOP was released in fall 2013.
Julie is the creator of Julie Hedlund’s Template for Storybook App Proposals and the founder and host of the 12 x 12 picture book writing challenge, with more than 500 members. She is a monthly contributor on Katie Davis’ Brain Burps About Books children’s literature podcast, a PAL member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), and a contributing editor on the subject of 21st Century Publishing for Children’s Book Insider (CBI). She has been a speaker at SCBWI, O’Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing, and other industry events.