If you've been looking for companies to help you publish your book, you may have come across Elm Hill Publishing. Seemingly combining the prestige of a legacy brand company as well as the freedom provided by modern self-publishing, Elm Hill might seem like the best of both worlds. But is Elm Hill actually worth the cost? And is it the right choice for your book?
Elm Hill Publishing claims to combine the expertise and experience of HarperCollins Christian Publishing with the services offered by Accurance. But we want to see what they are really made of.
To help you decide, we’ve created a complete rundown of Elm Hill’s publishing services, how much is required to invest in them, and alternative approaches you might wish to explore instead.
Is Elm Hill a publisher worthy of your time and attention, or a vanity publishing press best avoided?
Let’s find out!
This Full Review of Elm Hill Publishing Will Cover:
What is Elm Hill Publishing?
When it comes to having an impressive track record, few publishers match the longevity of HarperCollins Christian. HCCP began publishing books almost three centuries ago, and today represents more than 2000 authors in over 65 languages.
Equally prominent to HCCP is Accurance, a company that established itself as an early self-publishing service provider around the turn of the millennium.
How exactly do these two major companies combine to form Elm Hill Publishing?
Accurance takes care of the editorial, marketing, and promotional aspect of the operation, while HarperCollins Christian Publishing is responsible for sales and retail distribution.
If your book succeeds with Elm Hill Publishing, it stands a chance of being acquired by the full HarperCollins Christian Publishing imprint.
Let’s take a look at the services on offer and how much you will need to invest in them.
Elm Hill Services
Elm Hill Publishing offers the following service categories for your book, which are then combined into packages in either the New Leaf or Gold Leaf tiers.
Here are the main categories of services provided by Elm Hill Publishing:
- Services That No Self-Publishing Firms Have
Let's take a quick look at each one…
1. Services That No Self-Publishing Firms Have
The company claims to offer “services that no self-publishing firms have.” But is this actually true?
If a company claims to offer something unique, it's worth looking at that claim closely.
Elm Hill claims to offer four types of service that no other publisher can:
- Distribution, Online Retail, and Monitoring for Top Sellers. Elm Hill claims to offer unique distribution abilities. But, when you look closer, it becomes clear that most of the distribution and online retail takes place through easy-to-access platforms such as IngramSpark.
- Sales to Bookstores. Elm Hill books might receive slightly better access through the HCCP sales conference and metropolitan market access, but neither of those things is a given.
- Professional Certified Author (PCA). Elm Hill states it is currently developing a unique book marketing course. But, when you look closely at the topics listed, you’ll notice they are useful but far from unique. It’s possible to learn about them for free online or through plenty of other courses and programs.
- Prelaunch Campaign. The final “service that no other self-publishing firm has” is the prelaunch campaign. If you receive the prelaunch campaign, you end up with 50 Advance Reader Copies and a guide to building some buzz ahead of launch. Again, this is useful for building momentum for your book, but far from something truly unique.
2. Editorial Services
Editorial services is the second category on offer at Elm Hill.
So what’s available?
- Print-to-Digital File Conversion. For authors who only have a hard copy of their work, Elm Hill can scan it and produce a digital file. The original, print book cover can also be recreated digitally or restored.
- Content Evaluation. Due to the moral nature of Elm Hill books, all submitted content will be scanned to ensure it is suitable for the intended audience and doesn’t contain any immoral themes or content that violates quality standards.
- Mechanical Editing. The basic level of editing services, focusing on aspects like grammar, sentence structure, and syntax.
- Substantive editing. Three levels of substantive editing are on offer – standard, premium, and deluxe.
3. Footprint Services
The third category of service available through Elm Hill is footprint services, relating to the time after your book has gone live.
Elm Hill offers:
- Printed copies. To let you check out the final appearance of your book, Elm Hill provides a number of soft and hardcover print copies, depending on the package you end up selecting.
- Library of Congress Control Number. Some service packages include a Library of Congress Control Number. This can be obtained for free, so think carefully about how much value this adds.
- Other advantages. Other stated advantages of working with Elm Hill include the company setting the price of your book for you and the option to use an ISBN they or you provide. These are only advantages if you're happy to give up control of pricing.
- Author royalties. If you read carefully within the author book royalties section, you’ll notice there are some fixed terms regarding foreign and multimedia rights that you need to make sure you’re comfortable with.
It's for every author to make their mind up about whether these footprint services are indeed revolutionary or restrictive, but it's worth taking the time to consider if you wouldn't prefer the freedom provided by full self-publishing.
4. Promotional Services
The final area where Elm Hill can help your book is through post-publication promotional or book marketing services.
It's important to note in these Elm Hill Publishing reviews that these services create the materials needed for promotion, but Elm Hill won't actually promote your book for you – this is still up to you.
Depending on the package you choose, Elm Hill offers:
- Website creation. 3-page, 5-page, and 7-page author websites, for example in the style seen below.
- Video trailer. A short video using your book's visuals. While this may sound cool, it's unlikely to move the needle, as the metric used to measure its success is views rather than sales or anything else.
- Press release. A press release, distributed through PR Web. If this sounds tempting, be aware that it might lead to some exposure and the ability to say you’ve been ‘featured on’ this or that media outlet, but might not be the best investment to make.
- Google Books preview. An optimized listing of your work on Google Books. Allows for search traffic and potential sales based on organic search.
- Amazon preview. Taking advantage of the ‘look inside' feature of Amazon isn't something that's usually considered a premium service, but Elm Hill lists it as one.
- Promotional materials. Business cards, bookmarks, and postcards, like the example below, provided in quantities of 100, 200, and 400 depending on the package you opt for.
Elm Hill Publishing Packages
Now that you know the four categories of service on offer from Elm Hill, let’s look closely at how they are combined into packages, and how much these packages cost.
It's important to understand what you are getting with each package so you can assess your own Elm Hill Publishing reviews based on your specific needs and budget.
New Leaf Packages
There are four tiers of New Leaf package available. Let’s consider how much they cost, what they contain, and if they represent value for money.
- Tier 1A. Costs $1399. Offers Amazon’s Look Inside and Google Books Preview. There’s not much value here other than the slim hope of getting picked up by the wider HarperCollins Christian Publishing brand.
- Tier 2A. Costs $2499. Everything included in Tier 1A as well as a 3-page website and 20 softcover copies. Is $1100 honestly good value for a small website and 20 softcover books?
- Tier 3A. Costs $3799. The contents of the Tier 2A package, plus access to United States HCCP accounts. Your book will be available on FaithGateway, and ChurchSource. You should consider whether access to the HCCP accounts, FaithGateway and ChurchSource is likely to lead to a return on the extra $1300 investment.
- Tier 4A. Costs $4999. Authors get everything from Tier 3A as well as a 5-page website instead of 3 and also access to the HarperCollins Christian Publishing sales catalog. Again, the price increase of $1200 may not represent value for 2 more website pages and catalog access, as merely being in the catalog doesn’t necessarily bring orders.
Gold Leaf Packages
- Tier 5A. Costs $7799. The first gold leaf package will grant access to the Professional Certified Author program described above as well as the chance for your book to be presented by HCCP sales reps to a particular United States metropolitan market. Note that the extra $2800 doesn’t guarantee even a single sale – only that your book might be picked up by a market.
- Tier 6A. Costs $9499. The extra $1700 allows your book to be made available to worldwide markets but once again doesn’t deliver any guaranteed or even probable return.
- Tier 7A. Costs $13499. For $4000 extra your book receives 60-day exposure in independent and Christian bookstores in a US metropolitan market of your choice. You also get access to advance reader copies and a marketing playbook.
Should I Use Elm Hill Publishing?
So when is it right to use Elm Hill, and when is it a better choice to choose a different route for your book?
The only real situation where it would be worth taking the time to build a relationship with Elm Hill would be if you’ve settled upon HarperCollins Christian Publishing as the ideal destination for your book.
Even then, it’s probably worth trying to get a foot in the door the traditional way.
If that doesn’t work, an Elm Hill publishing package is one way to get on the HarperCollins Christian Publishing radar.
Otherwise, avoid falling for the charm of the HarperCollins Christian brand.
Consider how much it would cost to publish by assembling one of their packages yourself, and evaluate if you are likely to experience a tangible return on investment.
Elm Hill Publishing Pros and Cons
So, what are some of the advantages and disadvantages of working with Elm Hill?
Let's break down the common advantages and disadvantages that we've found in Elm Hill Publishing reviews.
Pros of Elm Hill Publishing
- Prestige. If you like being associated with HCCP, an Elm Hill services package is one of the easiest ways to get access to the company.
- Connections. Depending on the package you choose, Elm Hill will allow you to connect with and start to build a relationship with HCCP team members in a metropolitan area of your choice.
- Convenience. If you’re willing to give up a lot of choice over aspects of your book such as its price, your royalty rights, and the style of your website, Elm Hill will take care of those things for you.
Cons of Elm Hill Publishing
- Restrictive. When you sign up with Elm Hill, you give away a lot of your freedom. If you want more choice over what your book will look like, where it will be sold, and how much of the returns you keep, consider self-publishing instead.
- Expensive. Elm Hill is expensive – both in absolute terms and the relative price gaps between the tiers. A four-figure increase in price for a couple of extra website pages does not represent value for money.
- Muddled. A large part of the appeal of modern services such as Hybrid Publishing is to take advantage of innovation. Even browsing through the services on offer is confusing, which doesn’t inspire confidence in the overall experience.
- Dated. If you take a look at some of the websites on offer at Elm Hill, you’ll notice that they don’t exactly have a modern or appealing aesthetic.
Other Elm Hill Publishing Reviews
Of course, when working on something as meaningful as a book project, it’s never worth getting only one take.
Here’s what others are saying online about Elm Hill.
David Gaughran highlights flaws with the licensing and financial side of Elm Hill.
Over at the Better Business Bureau, Elm Hill hasn’t registered a single complaint at this time.
Alternatives to Elm Hill
So, what are some alternatives you can consider rather than using Elm Hill?
Traditional Publishing with HCCP
A large part of the appeal of Elm Hill is the chance to potentially work with HCCP. If that’s the main attraction for you, it’s worth exploring if HarperCollins would be interested outside of the context of Elm Hill.
Alternative Christian Publishing Companies
HCCP may be a very prestigious, legacy publisher, but they’re by no means the only option for faith-oriented authors. Why not check out some other Christian publishing companies?
Rather than opting for a hybrid publishing deal like that on offer at Elm Hill, have you considered going the entirely independent route? If you learn to self-publish, you can build your own faith-based Christian author platform, release your books exactly as you want them to be, and retain full control over rights and returns.
If opting to go fully independent appeals, investing in quality author education such as through self-publishing courses will likely save you time and money.
We’d also like to highlight a couple of the author programs from our partner, Self-Publishing School, that are worth looking at if you intend to fully self-publish.
The Become a Bestseller program will teach you the full process of writing and releasing a bestselling book in under 90 days.
Why not combine Become a Bestseller with PR & Speaking for Authors? With these two complete education programs, you can benefit for a total investment of LESS than the price of the top tier Elm Hill option.
With self-publishing education, you're investing in your entire author career – not just the price to publish your book.
Our Final Rating of Elm Hill Publishing
While the chance of working with HarperCollins Christian Publishing in some capacity will appeal to a lot of authors, most will never receive the opportunity.
As a result, we recommend learning to self-publish and building a platform for your Christian books that is fully under your control.
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If you are planning on writing a novel or a memoir, Elm Hill is not the right fit for you. Instead, you should look for a reputable self-publishing company that works with all genres (or at the least the one you are writing). At self-publishing.com, we can help you write, edit, format, and publish your book – regardless of what you're itching to write about.
If you are interested to learn how to turn your dream book into a reality, contact our team for a free, no-obligation strategy call today.