Speaking Volumes Redirects Submissions to Hybrid Imprint

Written by Caitlin Jans

As part of our Guiding Principles at Authors Publish we promise to only review traditional publishers. We have been following our guiding principles for five years now, and we like to think they define who we are as a publication.

We always ask subscribers to update us if a press we have reviewed has started to act in a way that does not align with our guiding principles. We have removed over a dozen publishers from our review archives for changing their submission policy in a way that violates our principles.

Speaking Volumes is the latest publisher that we no longer recommend. Speaking Volumes is an established press that has traditionally published between 30-50 books a year.

Recently, one of our subscribers emailed us with the information that he had submitted to Speaking Volumes, only for his work to be accepted by one of their new hybrid imprints, BeeLine Press. His work was accepted on the condition that he pre-order 75 copies. The copies would be 55% discounted off the cover price. The author wisely declined the offer.

Hybrid publishing is an umbrella term that covers any publishing project where the author pays the publisher, but the publisher covers some of the cost. The line is blurry and ill-defined, and many authors consider hybrid publishing to be a form of vanity publishing.

I contacted Kurt Mueller, the editor/owner of Speaking Volumes, to verify this information and gather more details. It turns out that Speaking Volumes now has two hybrid imprints, BeeLine Press and RazzDoodle. The latter focuses on publishing kids’ books. Both operate the same way.

Now a small number of other publishers that we have reviewed and continue to review have hybrid imprints. However, it is important to note that all of these presses do not redirect traditional submitters to their hybrid imprint.

Speaking Volumes has no way to directly submit to their hybrid imprint. Yet BeeLine Press already has an almost full publishing schedule for 2019 (they will be publishing between 36 and 48 books). All of these manuscripts that are scheduled to be published were submitted to a traditional publisher yet were accepted by a hybrid publisher.

In the opinion of this editor, it is not fair to the authors that submitted to a traditional publisher to be treated in this way. My personal recommendation is to steer clear of Speaking Volumes as long as they continue this practice.

I will say that Kurt Mueller has been open with me and polite during all our exchanges and answered all of the questions I asked.

However, traditional publishers should never charge their authors and authors should always be aware of what kind of press they are submitting to. This mixed hybrid/traditional model is confusing and could potentially do real harm.