Writers in 2023 are faced with stronger competition than ever before in the literary world. With an avalanche of new releases every single day, the dual threat of saturation plus competition can make the prospect of having one’s work published, an incredibly daunting one.
To provide some context to the state of play, it is estimated that 800 new books are published daily in the United States alone, not to mention both the global market plus all the books that don’t quite make it into the hands of the public.
A company that aims to not only simplify the process but also give confidence to the writers they partner with that their goals are in fact achievable, is Greenleaf Book Group. In fact, the statistic above is taken from their website, which shows you the confidence they have in their offering that it will make writers wish to work with them rather than turn them away.
In this Greenleaf Book Group review, we will explore who they are, what they do and whether or not aspiring writers would find it worthwhile to consider partnering with them to have their work published.
What is Greenleaf Book Group and what do they publish?
Since Greenleaf was founded just before the turn of the century, they have aimed to continually evolve in order to meet the needs of the authors they work with. The core of their business has always been distribution to major bookstore retailers. Over time, however, they acknowledged the increasing need and demand for editing, design and marketing services to complement this. Therefore, they decided to build out a team of experts to provide a full 360 service for their writers.
One of the primary reasons for this as they see it, is that if one link in this chain is broken, then regardless of the talent of the author and the calibre of their work, the book may not be the success it deserves to be. As they self describe it their aim is not to sell dreams but to ‘build brands and create powerful spheres of influence’. This type of rhetoric is more commonly found in the tech or business world, so depending on your perspective it may either be refreshing or off-putting to see such a creative pursuit as writing framed in this way.
With over 25 years of experience behind them now, they have over 50 New York Times & Wall Street Journal best sellers on their books, not to mention multiple awards won by their editorial and design teams.
Their model is commonly referred to as ‘hybrid publishing’ which aims to find the middle ground between self-publishing and a submissions process to a conventional publisher. Greenleaf claims that they are ‘uniquely positioned to offer the benefits of both traditional and self-publishing’ providing unmatched publishing and distribution services, whilst allowing the writer to maintain creative control, intellectual property and the lion's share of the royalties.
A glance through the FAQ section on their website reveals they publish both fiction and non-fiction titles and accept submissions of all genres. However based on the titles showcased or the ones that appear to be best sellers, there’s definitely a trending them towards non-fiction business, self-improvement or similar.
Which authors publish with Greenleaf?
As mentioned above Greenleaf seemingly encourages any and everyone to make a submission, but below we’ll list a selection of the best sellers as per their own website.
- The 29% Solution – Ivan R Misner
- The 9 Steps To Keep The Doctor Away – Dr Rashid A Buttar
- Activate Your Brain – Scott G Halford
- The Amazement Revolution – Shep Hyken
- Ask More, Get More – Michael Alden
- The Authenticity Code – Dr Sharon Lamm Hartman
- Bankable Leadership – Tasha Eurich
- The Courage Solution – Mindy Mackenzie
- Do You Follow? – J C Bidonde
- The Exceptional Presenter – Timothy J Koegel
As mentioned previously, a lot of these books seem to fall under the non-fiction/self-help genre however there is at least some variety with a thriller in this list too.
What is also worth mentioning however is the strength of the cover art and the design of these books. Often when looking at hybrid publishers' websites, they all make similar claims regarding the strengths of their creative teams. One look at the cover art of their books however and these claims fall flat. Not so with Greenleaf, each cover feels modern, interesting and does what all cover art should do; entice the reader to learn more.
Can authors submit to Greenleaf?
Yes, they openly request for submissions as per the FAQ section on their website. It’s worth going into slightly more detail however to fully understand the process.
Greenleaf requests that authors and independent publishers submit a writing sample (a book idea or proposal, a manuscript, sample chapters, or a completed book) and fill out a submission form to be considered for publication or distribution. Once they receive the submission, it will be given a thorough review and the writer can expect to receive a response within 3 to 6 weeks. During the review process, books, manuscripts or proposals are evaluated for content, quality and sales potential by their in-house committee of publishing experts.
Of course, when working under a hybrid publishing model, costs vary depending on the needs of each book and the author’s goals. Once a book is accepted through the review process, Greenleaf will create a custom plan for the book, with recommended services and associated costs.
What are some alternatives to Greenleaf?
Broadly speaking there are three main options for any writer looking to have their work published; self-publishing, hybrid publishing or conventional submission to a publisher.
Firstly, those considering the hybrid publishing route must consider the primary downside; cost. Having likely spent a lot of time and effort on the work itself to put the success of the book into the hands of a team you aren’t first hand familiar with, at a financial cost to yourself may not be appealing. All of the aforementioned upsides that come from the hybrid publishing route are legitimate, but each writer will have to weigh up whether it’s a risk they are prepared to take.
Secondly, a writer could consider a conventional submission process to a publisher. The prestige, financial reward and increased chance of success that comes with this are often considered the holy grail for aspiring writers. But as we mentioned at the beginning, the completion combined with often limited or closed submission windows can make this process a demoralising one. Not to mention the time and effort it takes to create the submission itself with no guarantee that you will even receive a response let alone an accepted submission.
Lastly, a writer could consider self-publishing. This maintains the creative benefits of self-publishing but places more responsibility and the writer with regard to marketing and distribution etc. However, self-publishing has seen an explosion in popularity in recent years, with many writers considering it an increasingly viable option.
Greenleaf Book Group Review – Final Verdict
To sum up, Greenleaf is unquestionably a successful business with their heart in the right place. They have both knowledge and insight into the publishing process and writers would almost certainly benefit from their expertise.
However, there are some things that should give writers pause when considering a submission. Firstly, there are no stated costs on their website. Whilst it’s understandable that each writer will have a different level of service required, the financial outlay may prove to be too costly.
Secondly, it should give anyone caution in any walk of life when someone describes what they do as unique. Greenleaf is certainly not the only hybrid publisher out there, and whilst that absolutely does not mean they are not good at what they do, it’s natural to feel a degree of hesitancy when you see them make unnecessary claims of that nature.
Finally, self-publishing could prove a good combustion of the upsides we discussed earlier whilst minimising any spending required by the author. Greenleaf clearly has a novel attitude to publishing which it must be said is refreshing. Their YouTube explainer video on their model plus their forward-thinking description of how to achieve success certainly speaks to a more progressive approach. But the costs involved combined with the ease of self-publishing may not mean it’s the best path for every writer.
Ultimately if a writer has both time and money on their hands, working with Greenleaf would definitely be a positive experience and improve their work. It’s not however a prerequisite for success.