SP#2: A Visit with Mark Levine, Hillcrest Media CEO

The Fine Art of Self-Publishing by Mark Levine

I previously posted (on July 19th) about my intentions to learn more about self-publishing, starting with a book called The Fine Print of Self-Publishing, by Mark Levine, who to my surprise is right here in the Twin Cities.  Since I want to explore various local options, I decided to contact Mark, who was generous enough to meet with me.  He’s the CEO and independent publishing Czar of http://www.hillcrestmedia.com.  Mark turns out not to be a serial killer at all, but a heck of a nice guy and an impressive entrepreneur in the rapidly evolving world of book publishing.  His offices are in a wonderful old converted warehouse, The Colonial Warehouse, in…you guessed it…the warehouse district here in Minneapolis, and the place was tony, hip, and busy as the proverbial beehive.  The Hillcrest empire employs about 25 full-time people, and consists of a number of imprints.

Bascom Hill is their high end publishing arm (http://www.bascomhillpublishing.com/).  You have to be assessed and accepted to be published by Bascom, and that means you have to have a national platform, be a celebrity of sorts, or have subject matter with a strong national or regional appeal.  The company also publishes its own titles in this imprint, including books by Don Shelby and Jason Lewis.

Two of their other imprints are Langdon Street Press (http://www.langdonstreetpress.com/default.aspx  and  Mill City Press, (http://www.millcitypress.net/) where authors can get print-on-demand publishing. Both these websites provide extensive information about their services.

Books published through traditional sales channels need strong sales and marketing support in order to have a chance with retailers.  Hillcrest recently hired Doug France, the former national sales director of three large traditional publishers.  Hillcrest is approaching book sales the same way any traditional publisher would.

Hillcrest Media also has an in-house editor they brought in from Simon and Schuster who heads up a three person in-house editing staff.  Their Bascom Hill and Langdon Street books receive both editorial and copy editing review.  Authors publishing with Mill City Press can add on various services available in-house, such as editing, marketing, publicity packages and distribution/fulfillment aspects.

Mark oversees this whole kingdom and has all sorts of irons in the fire for future plans related to independent publishing and marketing.  He said he thinks he has a big advantage in terms of his business, because he was an author first (two novels in addition to his self-publishing book), so he operates from the viewpoint of “What kind of services can I provide that I would want and can pay for.”  We ranged over a lot of stuff, too much to cover here, so much so that my head was spinning when I left.  I went across the street and had a lovely lunch on the patio of the Monte Carlo, my idea of a successful conclusion to any meeting.

Mark gave me five of his books on self-publishing to give away for FREE.  I would like to send them to people who are seriously thinking about self-publishing, rather than folks who just like free stuff.

So if you’d like one, and are one of the first five to ask, send me your mailing address via my website contact form and I’ll shoot you a book. 

I should have had him autograph them!


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