How to publish a book (not mine) without doing all the publishing?
May 23, 2017 9:17 PM   Subscribe

I have money and I know of an in-progress book that I'd like to publish, but I'd like to get more concrete on how to go about it before I approach the writer. Is there a concept of partnering with an existing publisher where they do the work but I bear the cost? I'm really not interested in starting a from the ground up publishing company, but self publishing tools don't seem right for this.

No need to warn me as to how it won't be profitable as this isn't intended to need to be a profit-making enterprise, but I'd want the quality of a "real" publisher. Am I looking for a ghost publisher, does that exist?
posted by haveanicesummer to Writing & Language (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I am unclear on your relationship to the author in this context. It sounds like a vanity publisher would fulfill your needs.

Publishing this way is unlikely to make money, and you say that isn't an issue for you, but would it be a problem for the author?
posted by shalom at 11:47 PM on May 23, 2017

What tools do you want them to provide? Editorial, design, production/manufacturing, publicity/marketing, distribution? All of these are services available outside a traditional publisher, but it's hard to advise without details.
posted by (Over) Thinking at 1:10 AM on May 24, 2017

Response by poster: The purpose of the book would be more influence than profit. I don't have a relationship with the author but I wanted to get a little more of an idea what options I might have before I proposed forming one. Indeed of course they may show no interest but I wanted to gain a little insight and have some more concrete proposal before going to them.

A vanity press just seems like another version of self publishing, which gives me concerns about the quality of the output.
posted by haveanicesummer at 1:15 AM on May 24, 2017

The difficulty with what you're proposing is that any legitimate publisher will want final editorial control. They might take one look at the manuscript and decide it's not good enough for them. It is, after all, their reputation on the line. If you're looking for a great-looking book and you have money, it's easy to simply have books printed. You'd need to hire a graphic designer who's dealt with printers before, and you would give them the final manuscript, and they would offer you various cover designs, and work with you to create wonderful cover copy, etc. They would be unable to secure distribution, however, and the book would unlikely to be reviewed, and if you wanted to launch the book anywhere, you would have to organize all that. So that is what access to a traditional publisher can bring you - production, distribution, legitimacy. But few legitimate publishers would want to publish a book that you finance. And if word got out that they did this, they risk their reputation, but also risk any grants they might receive from funding bodies. I guess my further question to you is what you really are after here - do you want the book to simply be printed real nice? What kind of life are you hoping this book to have? What sort of cultural legitimacy do you want for it? Or do you simply want the object?
posted by Sully at 1:16 AM on May 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Ideally perhaps the latter three (production, marketing, distro), whereas editorial and design are areas I would be more comfortable dealing with separately.
posted by haveanicesummer at 1:17 AM on May 24, 2017

Response by poster: Yes I'd want it to be as legitimate as possible, not just the object. I think it'd be potentially a valuable and important work, albeit in the fairly narrow area it covers. So influential but with a likely limited audience,

I suppose I was hoping it was more common practice to do a co-publish or something with an existing indie publisher but it sounds like that isn't likely.
posted by haveanicesummer at 1:21 AM on May 24, 2017

Best answer: What you're proposing to a publisher is very unusual. The challenge for them is that while you might be willing to take all the financial risk, they are taking every other risk - largely to their reputation. While private schools have a policy of accepting large donations and then accepting whoever they want into enrollment, publishers have a lot of filters, and quality control. The big 5 publishers only look at manuscripts from agents, who are innundated with manuscripts and pitches daily. What I would suggest is (1) find a book that does something similar to the book that you are looking at. Maybe it has the same amount of influence, but in a parallel genre or field. Approach that publisher with your unusual request. Your offer might be interesting enough that they will take a real look at the work you are pitching, and you don't need to go through the usual rigamarole. Or (2) approach a larger publisher about piggybacking with them. I have heard of things like this happening before. Usually with a publisher who is no longer publishing, but who has a large backlist - then those books become absorbed into the still-operating publisher's catalog and distribution. Piggybacking might be the best thing for you. If you have money, what I would suggest is that you actually approach the graphic designer of the publishing house, and ask them to work for you freelance. They will be familiar with the usual channels of production. THen you make the book, print it, and then piggyback the book with a regular publisher. But I gotta warn you - they will be deeply skeptical of this arrangement. You may be hard-pressed to find any publisher that will let you piggyback with them. This is a lot like approaching some random person on Facebook and saying, look, I'll pay you money to introduce me personally to all your friends. What's more - you want to friend each and every one of them. This just ins't how the publishing world works these days. They're not gonna vouch for your book unless they believe in it themselves.
posted by Sully at 1:44 AM on May 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

Check your memail.
posted by Gotanda at 1:54 AM on May 24, 2017

What you're looking for is a hybrid publisher. Here are a couple of links for further research, from sources I trust:

What is hybrid publishing? - written by Brooke Warner of She Writes Press (a hybrid publisher) - she is also an author and has been in the publishing business, both traditional and hybrid, for many years.

Indie Author's Guide to Hybrid Publishing from Publisher's Weekly
posted by lyssabee at 10:33 AM on May 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Book in a Box is probably not what you need, because they specialize in actually writing the book. But you might want to take a look at their website just in case. They handle the whole publication process, although the marketing they provide is pretty light.
posted by Surprised By Bees at 9:10 PM on May 25, 2017

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