Subtlety, Hay House Publishing and The Arrival of Balboa Press

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Sometimes things get lost in the translation. We apply our own expected template on what we perceive we are seeing. Dig deeper, and the subtleness under the surface can reveal the real changes and message being communicated.
There will be some debate about Hay House Publishing and their partnership with Author Solutions (ASI) to create the imprint, Balboa Press, the third such self-publishing service division created by a mainstream publisher in the past year. There are many similarities with the deals done by ASI to run and power the services of WestBow Press and DellArte Press, paid-publishing divisions launched by publishers Thomas Nelson and Harlequin respectively. While the authors and publishers operating under what may be described as ‘traditional models of publishing’ can again refuse to point to the corner of the room and say, ‘there’s the elephant’; the arrival of Hay House Publishing into the realm of paid-publishing with the launch of Balboa Press has some subtle but significant differences.
In light of the debate and criticism of mainstream publishers to develop and enter paid-publishing partnerships with Author Solutions, I discern a subtle shift in what we may see in future partnerships. Hay House Publishing specialize in self-help books, and in many ways, Hay House would actually have been the ideal launch partnership last year for Author Solutions. Though a mainstream publisher now, Hay House Publishing has its roots in self-publishing.
From the publishers About Hay House’ page:

“Hay House was founded in 1984 by Louise L. Hay as a way to self-publish her first two books, Heal Your Body and You Can Heal Your Life, both of which became international bestsellers (You Can Heal Your Life has sold more than 35 million copies worldwide) and established Louise as a leader in the transformational movement. Today, Hay House is committed to publishing products that have a positive self-help slant and are conducive to healing planet Earth.


In 1987, Hay House was incorporated, expanding into a full-scale publishing company. We now publish books, CDs, DVDs, and the well-known card decks that are part of our beautifully illustrated and conceived Lifestyles line.


The subjects that have been covered by Hay House products reflect an eclectic assortment of interests: astrology, alternative health, angels, pet care, finance, nutrition, parenting, psychology, sociology, meditation, spirituality, numerology, color therapy, feng shui, business, autobiographies, social commentary, memoirs, and much more.


Hay House is one of the fastest-growing self-help and transformational publishers in the world, selling our products to more than 35 countries around the world. Our company currently publishes approximately 300 books and 350 audio programs by more than 130 authors, and employs a full-time staff of 100-plus. Hay House is a medium-sized publishing house bringing in big-name authors (including Diane Ladd Ben Stein Suze Orman Carnie Wilson Sylvia Browne Montel Williams Wayne Dyer Deepak Chopra Iyanla Vanzant John Edward Marianne Williamson Barbara De Angelis Tavis Smiley Jim Brickman Stedman Graham and Phil McGraw who are attracted to our innovative approach to 21st century publishing.”

I could of course be proved wrong in the coming weeks and months, but I suspect the Hay House Publishing partnership with ASI is going to pass under the radar of the industry and we are not going to see the kind of outcry and resistance from author guilds and associations so prevalent during the launch of Harlequin’s DellArte Press. This may be in part due to Hay House Publishing not having the same global profile as Harlequin, but I also believe it is because much of the backlash was unfairly directed at Harlequin, while Thomas Nelson, who had been the first to enter the paid-publishing field of play, went about their business with little or no negative press.
One thing that also strikes me as significant is the way all the publishers who have launched paid-publishing divisions are allowing ASI to not just run their new imprints and revenue sources, but the manner in which they have conceded much of the public relations work.

Tomorrow, we will have a closer look at the Hay House Publishing imprint at the centre of this partnership deal with ASI, Balboa Press, and see how it stacks up.
Authors

2 Comments

  1. Victoria Strauss said:

    I agree that the establishment of Balboa Press will probably largely fly under the radar–and I also agree with your assessment as to why. I find this fascinating and a little depressing.

  2. Editor said:

    You know, Victoria, having taken a pretty close look at Balboa Press today, I share some of your depression, not because of the existence of such paid-publishing services from mainstream publishers, but the fact we have yet to see a true reputable model.

    I do believe this kind of model can work – we are just not seeing it deployed by the right companies. I’ve seen enough of the ASI powered model three times over to conclude that they are not going to be a part of an successful future venture. Simply put, you have got two companies looking at the venture as an additional revenue resource.

    What may be required is a mainstream publisher over the coming months to look at the three current ventures (Westbow, DellArte and Balboa) and conclude, they can create a paid-publishing venture internally and without ASI involvement. Hay House could have been ideal for that.

    Perhaps, for all we know, such a venture is already been planned. I am certain that if ASI have managed to woo three publishers, the likelihood is there are dozens more who have turned them down.

    In short, don’t be surprised if someone like Hampton Roads, A&C Black or W.W. Nortons cracks open a paid-publishing venture in the not too distant future.

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