Buckhead publisher turns writers’ dreams into reality
STORY: H.M. Cauley
As is the case with so many industries, the world of publishing has evolved under the influence of new technologies. Now, manuscripts that might have grown dusty from the neglect of agents and traditional publishers often find their way to readers via online platforms or self-produced printings.
Yet even those approaches have become complex, and as many writers can attest, self-published books often fall short of the professional look and style their authors want. For those who find themselves in need of someone to offer editing, layout, content and marketing advice, Vikki Jones of VMH Publishing wants to fill that void.
From her Buckhead office, Jones acts as a conduit between authors and audiences, but in a way that keeps the key decisions in the hands of the creators. “People may come to me looking for a book publisher or for some self-publishing help, but most are looking for control,” says Jones. “And most people who contact us already have a strong customer base as well.”
What they don’t have is the time or skill set to self-publish alone. Jones shares the tips she’s learned from going through the process herself five times. Her last book, How I Did It: Scaling Business W/O Investors, which debuted a year ago, offers ideas on how entrepreneurs can grow their businesses.
“When I started with my first book 10 years ago, I didn’t have investors or venture capitalists behind me,” she says. “I had to learn marketing, what it took to attract folks to the company and layout. I even visited major book publishers to learn what they were doing to make their businesses stand out. I put all those practical, motivational tips into a book. I did it because I don’t want people to be discouraged.”
Jones, who has a legal background working with a personal injury firm, was close to being discouraged 13 years ago when she couldn’t find a publisher for a work she’d crafted. “I pitched my proposal and didn’t even get feedback,” she says. “I soon found that other people had written books and wanted to get them out there.”
And that’s where Jones identified a need. She launched VMH Publishing and now teams with clients to map out where they want their books to go. “I try to get them to see beyond the immediate audience, so we help with the marketing to some degree,” she says. “We’ll work on content. Maybe the title needs some tweaking. Or maybe they need a website.”
Jones also offers varying degrees of editing, layout design, printing and distribution advice, scaled from a flat fee that starts around $5,000 and goes up, depending on the services an author wants. “That base usually covers editing, layout and copyright services,” she says. “PR and marketing might range from $10,000 to $15,000 on the top side.”
So far, Jones has overseen the publication of about 80 books written by authors from around the country. While most fall into the lifestyle category—cookbooks, children’s literature, poetry—she’s not limiting the list to those genres. But she is keeping the number of books she’ll publish each year to 50. “That way,” she says, “we can really focus on the quality and content. If the content is important enough, I want to pave the way to get it out there.”
3355 Lenox Road N.E.
Atlanta-based writer and editor contributing to a number of local and state-wide publications. Instructor in Georgia State’s Communication department and Emory’s Continuing Education division.