The Backstory

The people behind Hidden Key Publishing are the same people behind Written Word Media. We started Hidden Key for a very simple reason. We wanted to validate that the marketing services we offered at Written Word Media worked (spoiler alert: they did) and we wanted to better understand the experience of the authors we work with. Written Word Media has a robust system for book promotion and a large audience of readers, but we lacked good ways to track the success of a book after a promotion. We relied on proxy metrics like click-through rate, affiliate sales, or author reported data in order to figure out how well our service was working.

We needed a better way.

An idea came to us, let’s write a book. If we wrote a book of our own, we would experience every aspect of the publishing process and we could buy our own marketing services, and see if they worked! We looked around our small wooden conference room table at each other, beaming with pride and happiness at our idea. Then we all patted each other on the back, and went home for the day.

The thing is, we’re technologists and marketers, not writers. When we came back in the next day, we were a little stumped. None of us had written a book before and we were staring down the lofty goal of creating a book. As many of you writers, publishers, editors, cover designers, and beta readers know, writing a book is damn hard.

We had to figure out how to create a book when none of us really knew how to write one. One thought we had is, what if we could just sign an author, give them a percentage of the sales and we’ll do all the marketing work. The problem is, we didn’t know if this was going to work! We have too much respect for authors to sign someone and then have the project fail. So, signing authors was off the table.

Then we thought maybe one us could just write the book ourselves. I had an idea for a book, so I personally took a crack at it. It took too long, and the finished product wasn’t good enough. Writing ourselves didn’t seem like it would work either.

We took a step back. We are smart, imaginative people, and we felt confident we had good ideas on what kinds of books to write and stories to tell. We felt good about our ability to outline the book, critique the book, edit it, design the cover, marketing, just about everything except write it. The one piece that was missing was a true writer.

As it turns out, there are lots of people willing to write if you pay them. So that’s what we did. We paid a talented writer to have a story written. If all the money was paid upfront so that regardless of whether or not the book succeeded, the writer would get paid. We’d take on all the risk of publishing the book. We liked this idea.

We published our first book and we found it to be energizing and awesome. We achieved our goal of understanding what publishing a book entails and we had a book that we could test on Written Word Media. What’s more, we loved the process!  We loved plotting, bringing characters to life, collaborating with writers and editors and using our marketing skills to package it all up. So we thought about it and said, why not do this again? And again after that?

This is how Hidden Key Publishing was born. The collaborative process of publishing a book is our creation strategy. And we’re working on creating more books to put out into the world. All our works are collaborations, we work with a team of people: writers, editors, designers, collaborators, and readers. People get paid according to what’s comfortable to them. We have two models: collaborative equity and collaborative for hire. As the names imply, the work is always collaborative.

It’s early, and we are still working out the best way to get books published. If you want to work with us in any capacity, please fill out the contact form to start the conversation.