No Agent, No Problem

A husband-and-wife team helps self-publishing authors do it
in a more professional way

Photo: George and Carolyn Arnold, founders of Hibbert & Stiles Publishing  

WHEN AUTHOR CAROLYN Arnold started self-publishing her series of crime novels in 2011, she turned to her husband, George, a graphic artist by trade, to design her book covers. “Everyone does judge a book by the cover,” says George. “It has to convey a strong message about the book at a glance.”

He did such a good job that it wasn’t long before another writer was asking him to design his book cover. George was happy to oblige. In the meantime, sales of Carolyn’s books were taking off—to the point that, in 2014, she quit her day job to focus solely on writing, in addition to self-publishing and self-marketing—two disciplines she will tell you require totally different skillsets than writing.

In order to market her books under a professional brand, the couple incorporated Hibbert & Stiles Publishing in 2015, using the surnames of their maternal grandmothers. “We wanted a name that sounded established and bigger than we actually were,” says Carolyn, who at that point had 17 books under her belt and an established, loyal readership.

“It took us years to figure it all out, and now we are in a position to help other writers get their books out there” —George Arnold

By 2016, George had quit his day job and the Arnolds found themselves being approached by other writers who wanted to tap into their expertise.

“It took us years to figure it all out,” says George, “and now we are in a position to help other writers get their books out there. There are two main reasons people use us: they don’t have the expertise and they don’t have the time to learn how to do everything themselves, and to do it the right way. Anyone can self-publish, but you want to make sure your product and presentation look professional. Even small mistakes can really hurt your brand.”

Another tricky part, says Carolyn, is figuring out pricing, taxes, best distribution channels to reach libraries, ebook or print book readers, and all the small nuances that can make a big difference in reach and profitability.

Hibbert & Stiles offers a variety of services to authors, such as cover design, interior formatting, book distribution and account management on a fee-for-service basis. Authors can apply to be published under the Hibbert & Stiles imprint or the company can act as a publishing agent by uploading clients’ books to distributors for worldwide distribution to popular online retailers.

“We don’t offer packages, instead we personalize the services to the individual, and people only purchase what they need,” says Carolyn. And, at $60 and hour, the Arnolds say it is an affordable option for people who are trying to navigate the world of self-publishing.

Many of their initial clients were members of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers, as having a book can add to a speaker’s credibility, bolster their brand and also create an additional revenue stream. Hibbert & Stiles also targets entrepreneurs and business coaches, as well as other fiction authors.

The next challenge the couple is setting their sights on is audio books. Carolyn predicts that market will explode in the next few years, and she’d like to see Hibbert & Stiles expand its services to target that segment of the ‘reading’ public.  Kym Wolfe