San Juan Books: Our Hybrid Publishing Division
San Juan Books is the hybrid publishing division of MSI Press intended to help new writers break into print. Hybrid publishing allows us to take on writers or books otherwise too risky for us to publish. Hybrid publishing also makes possible the dream of first-time authors of breaking into print with a traditional publisher. MSI Press is a traditional small press; SJB is its untraditional approach for new authors, an approach that was designed to allow us to continue highly personal (and, frankly, old-fashioned) interaction with and support of every one of our authors, especially authors new to the field of publishing who often need in-depth explanations and personalized support through the publishing process that previously published authors do not require.
Why hybrid publishing?
First-time writers generally do not have adequate networks, platforms, writing skills, or marketing expertise to ensure that their books will sell well, and while we like to support first-time writers, our experience is that we do not receive a sufficient return on investment to cover expenses. Hybrid publishing allows us to share expertise and expenses with the author so that the risk is equally experienced in a fair way and so that the profits are also shared in a fair way.
While authors can do well with self-publishing, the costs are likely to be higher than with assisted publishing and the level of expertise lower, resulting in a lower quality product. This is not always the case. Some authors have all the talents required to do their own publishing, and in these cases, probably should. Most first-time authors (or previously self-published authors with poor outcomes) need the help of experts to end up with a high quality book that meets professional norms.
How does this work?
In many ways, this works just like traditional publishing. The publisher assesses the work. Where interested, the publisher offers a contract. The publisher provides editorial, production, and marketing services. And the author is compensated.
The difference between hybrid publishing and traditional publishing is in the requirement for the author to take on some of the risk through one of two means: (1) pruchase of a specific number of books in advance at author discount that the author can then sell at full retail or (2) purchase of specific editorial, production, and marketing packages. A second difference is in the shared marketing efforts.
The process outlined below is a generic one and is individualized to each author and circumstance.
- Evaluation. We will assess your book for quality. Our judgment could be any one of the decisions listed below, depending upon how well, in our opinion, your book is written.
- Rejection. We do not believe we can market your book because of your lack of recognition as an expert in the topic about which you are writing, the format of your work, or the nature of the writing/content (e.g., we would not publish something that uses a lot of profanity, reflects an anti-spiritual bent, or that reveals prejudices against racial, ethnic, or religious groups); we also very rarely publish poetry or fiction and are selective about books in foreign languages because of limited production and marketing capacity for foreign languages. In such cases, we will reject your book outright.
- Future reconsideration. Your book needs a lot of work on content, writing style, or both before it would satisfy our minimum standards. In that case, we will reconsider your work after you have reworked it. In such cases, we can refer you to a developmental editor (it is up to you to work out payment and other contractual commitments — all of this is between you and the editor), you can find a developmental editor on your own, or you can try to rewrite the book yourself.
- Conditional acceptance. This is the general way in which we accept all books. Based on this conditional acceptance, we will issue a contract with a final manuscript delivery date. The final manuscript must meet our standards.
- Accepted. Your book meets our minimum standards; this comes after you provide us the final manuscript in accordance with your contract. At that point, we will begin the publication process.
- Contract. If (or when) your book meets our minimum quality standards, we will prepare a draft contract in which we will specify the conditions of publication. There may be some room for negotiation in the contract. We will also send a sample contract, if requested.
- Publication process. We handle all the professional aspects of publication: editing, copy-editing, typesetting, proofreading, cover design, printing, distribution, and subsequent e-book production. Author responsibilities during the publication process include
- Final manuscript. Authors are expected to provide a final, high quality manuscript at the time stated in the contract (though extensions can be negotiated).
- Prepayment of purchased packages if being published through SJB. Editorial and Production package purchase is required; Marketing packages are varied in cost and content and are optional but highly advised.
- Entering galley corrections. Generally, we expect a 2-week turn-around time on galleys. Extensions can be negotiated.
- Marketing. We work together with the author on marketing. We will handle some basic tasks, such as getting some reviews, some direct marketing, and inclusion of the book on our website and in our catalogue (as well as in our wholesaler’s catalogue). We offer other marketing opportunities to authors on an as-desired, not-required basis, through specific advertising packages (see General Information), and expect authors to build a platform if they do not already have one. We will embrace advertising, enter the book in contests and conference exhibits, and support book events, with the expectations that we will do the paperwork, prepare the press materials, make the contacts, send in books, and track the results; we expect any associated fees to be covered by the author.
- Filing. Copyright belongs to the author; we ask that authors file their own copyright paperwork with the Library of Congress within 90 days of publication; we will provide a copy of the paperwork and help you with filling it out (but may need to refer you to the LOC for complicated questions).
- Rights. We buy worldwide English language rights for print (paperback and hard cover) and digital versions of your book for two years. If a book is published in a language other than English, we buy the worldwide rights for that language, and English language rights remain with the author although we will consider publishing translations into English of books we originally publish in another language (and vice versus); this is not the same as translation rights. After two years, the original contract continues until such time as MSI Press or author wish to end it, at which time we will revert all rights to the author.
- Translations. We do not buy translation rights, and you are free to sell translations to other publishers.
- Audio books. We do not buy audio rights, and you are free to sell those rights to another publisher or to make your own audio books. We do have the capacity to contract for audio book producers and will do that on behalf of the author if the author bears the cost of the production.
- Related products. We do not buy rights associated with any non-book products (other media, toys, etc.), and the author is free to supplement book sales with sales of realia.
- The right numbers
- ISBN. We will obtain an ISBN for you. This is necessary for a book to be marketed and sold. We bear the cost of the ISBN,
- LCCN. We will obtain a Library of Congress Control Number for you. This makes it easier for libraries to shelve your book and opens the door to some pre-publication reviewers, such as Library Journal.
- Book copies.
- Author copies. We will provide you 15 author copies gratis.
- Author discounts. We offer 40% author discounts on book purchases. (Shipping costs must be borne by the author.) If an author purchases 50 or more books at one time, then a 50% discount and free shipping apply.
- Amount. Our typical contract will pay 10% of list price on print books that we sell (10% net for bulk sales, which sell at prices below retail) and 50% of net on e-books. We will also pay 50% net on paperback and hard cover books if the author prefers, but our sales statistics show that authors end up with more money in pocket with the 10% list contract.
- Payment schedule. Minimally, royalties are paid annually, in February of each year. We do pay quarterly royalties on high-earning books.
- Book copies.
- Pre-publication reviews. Depending upon author preference, we will send out books for potential review to the major pre-publication reviewers (requires at least a four-month pre-order period) or go straight to book release once the book is ready.
- Post-publication reviews
- Free reviews. We send our books to as many free review sources as we have in our data base.
- Fee reviews. We will send authors’ books to any review-for-fee reviewer if authors pay the fee (we provide the book, pay the postage, and prepare the paperwork).
- Award competitions.
- We send all our traditionally published books to one award competition in the year of publication.
- We will send any book to any competition for which the author will pay the fee; we take care of the paperwork and book/shipping expenses.
- MSI Press books have won awards every year; you can check out our awards page for the kinds of awards they have won. In 2021, we published 10 books; they won 37 awards.
- Author choice exhibitions. With reasonable lead time, we will send an author’s book to any exhibition for which the author pays the cost. We will take care of the paperwork and communication and will provide the book and shipping.
- MSI Press shelves. MSI Press sometimes purchases “shelves” at exhibits, where it is cost-effective to do so. In those cases, there are discounts for exhibiting individual books. We will pass that discount along to SJB authors who wish to have their book exhibited.
- Press releases. We will prepare a press release at our expense and will provide authors with a Word and pdf copy. Authors may alter it however they wish and send it wherever they wish. We will also distribute it to our usual outlets (240+ sites) and to any local media outlets identified by authors.
- Book launches and book events. These are entirely up to authors, both what they do and the cost of doing it. We will provide a sufficient number of books at author discount, will help with guidance (insofar as we have experience in your particular area), and will talk or provide documentation to event organizers as needed and as time permits to facilitate a successful event.
- MSI Press webstore. SJB titles are included in an online MSI Press catalogue (webstore); we offer discounts, sales and special purchase options to potential purchasers.
- Radio, television, and print interviews. Within time availability, we will make available the MSI Press publicist’s efforts and expertise to you for setting up interviews. We bear the cost for this.
- Author’s publicist or social media specialist. You may wish to hire your own publicist or marketer. That is highly recommended. We will work with your publicist, if desired, to the extent possible.
- Advertising. We advertise in print and electronically, individually and in cooperative catalogues. We will make all advertising means we traditionally use for MSI Press books, as well as any special opportunities that arise, available to SJB authors on a cost (or shared cost if part of a larger advertisement) basis.
What are the advantages?
If you are considering self-publishing, San Juan Books may be a better alternative for you, both financially and professionally.
What you get from San Juan Books is the acknowledgment of being an MSI Press author, a publishing house known for its quality books. Your book will be of that same level of professional quality because we will not go to press until it is; we will work with you until your book is something that you and we can both take pride in and that stands a fair chance of winning awards and garnering excellent reviews.
The cost of producing your book and marketing it widely is considerably reduced when you share the cost with the publisher. In addition, more marketing opportunities become available through assisted publishing than via self-publishing.
Most important, you will get some benefits that are hard to find elsewhere:
- considerable say in the final product — how your book looks;
- considerable say in the marketing — the quantity of marketing and the venues for advertising and sales;
- elimination of some possibly very high expenses (e.g., cover design) that are encountered in self-publication;
- access to our in-house author forum on Face Book (authors helping authors) and monthly notes (updates, information, and marketing suggestions);
- presence on our website, at our exhibits, and in our catalogues; and
- a helping hand that wants you to succeed and is only an enote away.
If your book sells well, we will consider a traditional contract for any other books you write or for second editions of the book.