My Experience with Mascot Books, A Hybrid Publisher
On February 2, I had the thrill of the launch of my second novel, Chasing the American Dream. It’s a story in the genre of historical fiction, set in 1955. In a couple of sentences: David spots the martial stride of a brutal ex-S.S. Major he’d sent to Nuremberg. He reverts to habits he mastered in the Office of Strategic Services in a quest for justice yet finds himself in a fight with the U.S. government which threatens his own American Dream.
Do feel free to order a copy, from Mascot or Amazon or Barnes & Noble or your favorite local bookstore!
But in the meantime, I’ll tell you about my experience in the realm of hybrid publishing, a venture I expect many of this community of authors may be considering. I’ve published two novels thus far with Mascot Books, which advertises itself as “a full-service hybrid publishing company dedicated to helping authors at all stages of their publishing journey create a high quality printed or digital book that matches their vision.”
My experience is that they take very seriously that last phrase of working hard to help authors “realize their own vision for the work.” First, Mascot’s acquisition team reads the manuscript to be sure it measures up to their quality standards. I appreciated this stamp of approval, as I certainly want to publish books that others agree are of good quality. Second, the production staff begins each step by asking what the author wants for the book. Think title, cover, font. They then send options and are open to trying out proposed changes.
My first book cover (Uncovering) was drawn by one of their graphic artists and was more creative and appealing than what I initially suggested, as though the artist had invested his time reading and absorbing the ambiance of the story. The editorial staff did an excellent job of copy-editing both of my books, with the addition of a summary of each book that, in one case, suggested an interesting shuffling of chapters. I loved the idea. In addition, I was pleased that the manuscript returned to me after each set of changes, with staff always making sure they were appropriately following through with my requests. They kept me up to date on what was happening, graciously responding to my numerous emails and calls. They truly produced products that “matched my vision.”
So far it may seem that this hybrid publishing business is everything an author could ask for: a process ensuring quality carried out by responsive individuals in a timely manner. All true. There are, of course, limits, largely in the task of publicity. Mascot offers multiple levels of involvement for their publicity staff. The basic level has them producing documents such as a PR page to send out to announce the publication and an order form. They send these along with a Marketing Guide and a Sales Guide to suggest the actions an author should take to publicize the book. The guides are full of useful information, no question. The “problem” is that, as is true these days even for traditional publishing houses, the onus of publicity is clearly on the author. It is possible to purchase a higher level of publisher involvement from Mascot, in which their staff contact local bookstores, potential reviewers and bloggers, and media outlets to set up launch events. However, in the three months publicity staff were working for me on my first book, they managed to schedule only one signing event and one review. I decided the investment wasn’t worth it for my second novel and have been more successful making my own contacts.
I hope these paragraphs give you a sense of the potential advantages and disadvantages of publishing through a hybrid—or at least this one hybrid. If you are someone who likes being in charge, who might balk at an editor’s suggestions of major changes to your manuscript, you might seriously consider the hybrid option. Do check on what each hybrid publisher will take on and what remains with you. And certainly check the costs. This isn’t an inexpensive endeavor. But following the path of hybrid publishing does ensure you have a great deal of control and your book is published in months rather than years.