Going with a hybrid press – Jenna Patrick

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By Jenna Patrick

Let me start out by saying that never, in a million years, would I have thought I’d be writing this article. I believed with all my heart that one day I would get “the call,” and my dreams would come true. I believed that if I improved my craft enough, wrote enough books, sent enough queries, endured enough rejections, it would all pay off.

Flash forward 7 years, 3 manuscripts, 368 queries, and 72 agent requests later.

I came so close I could smell the ink of my non-existent contract, but in the end, the same three rejections continued to come back.

  1. I really loved this story, but I’m worried the multi-POV will be a hard sell for a debut.
  2. You’re a talented writer, but your voice is too literary for our commercial line (or vice versa).
  3. It’s amazing, but I just don’t know where I place this.

So, I tried writing from one POV, but I grew bored. I tried adding more romance to be more commercial, but it felt forced. I tried removing plot threads, but the story dragged. I was miserable. I loathed writing. Nothing flowed. By trying to fit into someone else’s box, I lost my voice and my love of writing.

That was when I came across SparkPress.

SparkPress is a hybrid publisher, which basically means they offer all the benefits of a traditional press for a fee to indie authors. They do everything, from editing to proofreading, cover design to book layout, file conversions to uploads. And while there are many presses that will do some or all of these things for a fee, there are a few things that set SparkPress apart.

First, they vet their submissions and are committed to putting out high-quality books. Because of this, they have built a good reputation in the industry and have secured a deal with Ingram for traditional distribution. This means they have a salesforce that pushes their books out into the industry, just like traditional presses have, so their authors have the same chance as a traditional author of sitting on a shelf in a bookstore.

9781943006182_fcBeing a born cynic, I was hesitant at first. So I did my homework. I spoke with the company president and I asked A LOT of blunt questions. I talked to random SparkPress authors I found on Facebook to get their take, and I started reading SparkPress books to make sure they were the high-quality fiction they claimed to be. What I found was that many of the authors were just like me – writers with great stories to be told that didn’t fit into a traditional box.

After HOURS of contemplation, I finally sent my manuscript in for review. A few weeks later I was asked to become part of their spring list. And … here we are.

So far, I’ve had an amazing experience with SparkPress. It’s been the perfect fit for me and for my writing. But that’s not to say a hybrid publisher is for everyone. If you’re considering a hybrid publisher, here are three big questions to consider before you make the leap from the traditional path.

1. How important is it to you to write what and how you want to write? Through the years I’ve seen traditionally published friends bend themselves into knots to fit what their publishing houses want. Having control over my writing was very important to me personally and to my creativity. If your writing fits well with what the traditional houses are looking for, or if you can easily adapt, you may decide to keep pursuing the traditional route.

2. How much time can you devote to writing? I have a very busy life. I have a day job, two daughters who are competitive gymnasts, and I homeschool one of them. I can’t write 3 or 4 books a year without my stress reaching nuclear levels. I know many writers who can easily pump books out at that rate, and if you can, this may not be an issue. It was for me.

3. How much money can and are you willing to invest? I say invest instead of spend, because that’s really what you’re doing – investing in your writing. The upfront cost of going with a hybrid press isn’t cheap. Add on the cost for a publicist (which I HIGHLY recommend), and it’s a big chunk of change to publish your book. This is why most publishing houses stick to those boxes and don’t take risks. By using a hybrid press, you are essentially taking on that risk yourself. The upside is that your earnings per book will be higher and you won’t be giving a cut to an agent. If your book does well, this could also be a big chunk of change.

The road to publication might not be the way you foresee, but that doesn’t make your story any less of a masterpiece. No matter what path you take, I encourage you to do your research, listen to your gut, and, in the end,

ALWAYS remember WHY you write…

Because you have a story that needs to be told.


Raised in northern Ohio, Jenna Patrick moved to North Carolina in 1998 to attend the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where she received a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering. After ten years of devoting her brain to science and math, she returned to her true passion: writing fiction. She and her husband reside on Lake Norman with their two daughters and two rescue dogs. Her debut novel, The Rules of Half, hit shelves on June 6, 2017.

jennapatricknovels.com

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