Have you ever thought about whether you would want to write a book? I sure have! Through my research, looking into the different options for when I do write a book, I discovered hybrid-publishing.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Athena Dean Holtz from Redemption Press. Athena was named publisher of the year in 2022, has authored books Full Circle: Coming Home to the Faithfulness of God, and co-authored Together for a Purpose: Love and Mission in Marriage and Ministry with her pastor husband. She has also founded the She Writes for Him movement. Talk about a fountain of knowledge!
If you want to write a book, read on to get all the details on how to get your book into the world and the different options that are available in the publishing journey.
How Hybrid-Publishing Will Help if You Want to Write a Book
Athena’s Journey with Publishing a Book
Athena: In 1986, I was helping my then-husband who was a Vietnam war veteran, develop and build a ministry for Vietnam veterans, their wives, and their family members. It was about educating them on PTSD really before it was a thing. Out of that came a desire to write a book that would be a layman’s explanation rather than a medical piece of writing.
My husband wrote a manuscript where he shared his testimony. We then sent the manuscript to all the publishers and received a whole bunch of no’s. Finally, we met a guy involved in publications and he told us that the manuscript needed a lot of work and needed to be rewritten. He offered to do the rewrite, get someone to design the cover, and get the text formatted. He told us he would get us 10,000 copies for $1 per book.
We took that as an answer to prayer. Then within a week, a Korean veteran walked into our ministry offices and told us he had heard about our work and was really supportive and wrote a cheque for the entire amount. Talk about a faith-building moment!
We went through the steps, got the 10,000 books, took them as a tool for our ministry, and went through 10,000 copies in 2 years. We gave away about 2,000 copies but we sold the other 8,000 copies.
Then we met a guy that said that if we had sold that many copies in that time, he could get a publisher for us. He became our agent and pitched the book to a publishing agency, they wanted it and went on to sell 40,000 books over the next 8 years before they gave us back the rights. To this day, there are over 250,000 copies that have been sold and a million in print as we gave the rights to many veteran organizations to print and give away.
Athena’s Experience with Creating a Publishing Company
Athena: This experience led to many asking if I could help them in their publishing journey. That began Winepress Publishing which was the first credible hybrid-publisher. We then had big editors send writers to us instead of sending them rejection letters.
Along the line, we published a book for a false shepherd and we ended up losing Winepress Publishing to him and his wife. So I lost everything. My marriage, relationships, my business, house, and credit rating. EVERYTHING! I almost lost my faith.
Redemption Press is God’s redemption and restoration. He allowed me to again dive into publishing and create a more author-centric model. So instead of only making money from the author which a lot of publishers are only concerned about, it became about also blessing the authors. Redemption Press is now 9 years old. I’m not the perfect leader, but God has pruned me and rebuilt me. Many in my position would have walked from God. But through God, He gave me the strength and the courage to rebuild and work out that call on my life to help people tell their stories.
What are the different types of Publishing?
Traditionally, if you want to write a book, you would find a publisher to help you do it. The Publisher pays for everything, they are buying the rights to your content. They’re the investor and you are the talent. To give you an example. With the 40,000 books that the publishing agency Athena used, she made $21,000. That’s 50 cents a book. The 8,000 copies that she actually sold by asking for any donation of $8 or more, she made around $40,000. So, whoever takes the risk is the one who takes the profit.
Today, when you go the route of publishers paying for everything, you are expected to bring a big following to the table so they are guaranteed to make money on the book. If you need to do that, why do you need them?
This is the total DIY option if you want to write a book without being attached to a publisher. You write your manuscript, you choose whether you get it edited or not, you can go to Amazon, Lulu, or Book Baby and upload the file, you can make your own cover, press publish and you are an author!
Athena: The problem is there is no gatekeeper to say ‘you’re not ready.’ If Amazon had been around when we did our book, we could have easily published something that wasn’t excellent. But we had someone in the publishing realm tell us it needed to be rewritten. There are too many books out there now that aren’t edited and the covers look amateur.
I have been there. In the first book that I wrote, I designed the cover and it was cringe-worthy. I wrote as I spoke and didn’t use any of the techniques that good writers use to tell the story, like dialogue and description.
What is Hybrid-Publishing?
Hybrid-publishing is a publishing model that takes the best of traditional publishing and the best of self-publishing and melds them together. So you have a team, you are not alone.
The Features of Hybrid-Publishing
Hybrid publishing means:
You have someone that will treat you like a traditional publisher
They help you write, brainstorm, offer ghostwriters if you need help crafting your manuscript, and offer different levels of editing to make the book the best it can be
As the author, you get to have control of what is in the book rather than having to take things out as a traditional publisher has the right to do
They bring the promotion and publicity that a traditional publisher offers
The difference is that the author pays a hybrid publisher more upfront because they are going to retain all the rights in the future. They also own foreign translations, potential movie deals, and audiobook rights. The author owns all of that and you own the profits, not just the royalties
You can try to do this DIY as you can with many things, but to create a premium product, it is wise to invest.
How do you start if you want to write a book?
We are currently in the middle of a ‘Write your book in 5 days’ challenge. All of the tools are provided for you to be able to create a 25,000-word manuscript in 5 days. These are done 2-3 times per year.
We also have some group coaching, and some one-on-one author coaching where you work with professional authors that coach for traditional publishers as well as Redemption Press. The coaches and editors are vetted to ensure you get great quality professionals who will be honest with you to make you look good instead of an amateur.
So if you have an idea and want to write a book, we have author coaching where you get advice on how to structure the writing, formulate the main theme and point of the text, and how you are going to engage the reader.
Or maybe you already have content and you want to re-purpose it, which requires a cooperative rewrite. An editor will help fill in the holes, to add value to make it a great product. We also have free video training that helps you understand the realities of publishing.
Athena’s advice to People’s Excuses
I don’t have time to write a book
There are a couple of ways you can approach this.
If God is nudging you in that direction and you know you want to write a book, but you don’t see how you can pull it off, look at the content that you do have. Is there content that you can reutilize and repurpose to be your first step to create something to minister to others or help bring recognition to your business etc?
If you have something that God wants you to write, the enemy is not going to be happy about that. He will feed you a whole lot of lies to deter you. He is going to try to intimidate you into silence.
Are there ways you can create time? Maybe get up before the kids to write for 15 minutes before they wake.
If you have a call, it’s an obedience issue. You just need to start. Sometimes in those moments where you do start, God molds the next steps. So you’ll hear from Him when you move. Take some messy action and allow God to work through that.
Athena was amazing to interview. I hope you were blessed with what she shared. If you want to write a book, she is an excellent resource and has so much information to help you get started! Check out her podcast, ‘All Things’, where she interviews authors discussing how God has taken a bad thing in their life and worked it for good. If God is calling you to write a book, take that messy action and step out in faith!