I believe that stories are powerful. And I love making them more powerful, and making sure that they are shared.
That's the role that I see publishing playing. And that's why I publish beautiful books about Buffalo and by Buffalo and Western New York authors and artists through Buffalo Heritage Press, part of a new, hybrid approach to publishing.
That's also why I gladly agreed to be part of So You Want to Write a Book, a four-week course sponsored by The Buffalo History Museum. The final Saturday session is called Meet the Publishers, and will take place from 10:00am to Noon on Saturday, February 24. I will join Cynthia Van Ness, Brian Meyer and Leslie Taylor for the grand finale of this informative workshop that has drawn more than 50 enthusiastic participants in the Museum auditorium each Saturday morning.
Like me, Cynthia Van Ness, director of Library and Archives at the History Museum, finds herself spending many hours answering questions from and guiding would-be authors. They arrive looking for historic photos and end up getting an earful about copyright, permissions and publishing. Likewise, I meet with at least a dozen authors a month. They arrive looking for a publisher and leave knowing what the publishing landscape looks like these days and the many options open to them.
I attended the first Saturday session called "Copyrights & Copywrongs" primarily to get a feel for how the sessions were set up. Were Powerpoints being used? How is Q&A being handled? Number of attendees? But I stayed for the excellent information being provided--and returned the following Saturday. I thought I knew all about copyright and permissions. Au contraire. I found myelf taking copious notes.
I do, however, bring expertise on the publishing process to the table on Saturday, based on nearly 30 years of book publishing experience in two states. It's been exciting to be on the leading edge of an industry in transition as I have transformed Buffalo Heritage Press from a small university press into one of the first hybrid presses in the nation. So much has changed since I joined Joe Bieron in saving the important legacy of Canisius College Press (think Classic Buffalo: A Heritage of Distinguished Architecture, now sadly out of print) by taking the press off campus in 2006 and forming an independent publishing venture to build on that strong foundation.
What is "hybrid publishing" you ask? According to the Independent Book Publisher's Association, which just released the first ever hybrid publisher criteria, "Hybrid publishers behave just like traditional publishers in all respects, except when it comes to business model. Hybrid publishers use an author-subsidized business model, as opposed to financing all costs themselves, and in exchange return a higher-than-industry-standard share of sales proceeds to the author. In other words, although hybrid publishing companies are author-subsidized, they are different from other author-subsidized models in that they adhere to professional publishing standards. Regardless of who pays for editorial, design, and production fees, it is always the publisher that bears responsibility for producing, distributing, and ultimately selling professional-quality books."
Buffalo Heritage Press books win awards and reach readers across the country and around the world. They get the Buffalo story out far beyond the city limits. Albright: The Story of John J. Albright by Mark Goldman tells the story of one of Buffalo's most influential industry leaders and philanthropists. Allentown: A Photographic Journey in the Heart of Buffalo by William Faught won Gold in the prestigious national Benjamin Franklin Awards last year, making it one of the top gift books in the nation. Remarkably, B is for Buffalo: An Aerial Alphabet by Christopher Hyzy won silver in that same award category! Buffalo Heritage Press publishes gifts that are cleverly disguised as books, and these include children's books, cookbooks, and more.
What's your story? Even if you think you know everything you need to know to tell your story, spend two valuable hours at Meet the Publishers this Saturday. If you can't make it, just let me know. Cynthia and I expect to continue spending lots of time with our many local authors.