Carmel Valley’s Acorn Publishing celebrates 100th book release

Holly Kammier (center) at a previous Barnes & Noble book signing.
Holly Kammier (center) at a previous Barnes & Noble book signing.
(Lacey Impellizeri)

Carmel Valley resident Holly Kammier and friend Jessica Therrien were so fed up trying to market their books to agents and publishers they decided to do their own thing.

“My best friend, Jessica, and I started this company as a ‘fake’ company just for ourselves to publish our books under,” Kammier said. “Both of our books were bestsellers, so we thought, ‘If we can do this for ourselves, why not do this for others.’ We created the LLC and website, and invited authors to submit their works to us.”

Seven years later, Acorn Publishing LLC on Sunday, Aug. 15, will celebrate the release of its 100th book at Barnes & Noble in the Mira Mesa Marketcenter, 10775 Westview Parkway.

Jessica Therrien, author and Acorn Publishing co-founder
Jessica Therrien, author and Acorn Publishing co-founder
(Susie Bakonis)

“This little company that was started here in Carmel Valley by two writers has blossomed into a business that makes new authors’ dreams come true,” Kammier said. ”We’re so proud of what we’ve done and honestly surprised. When we started this, we did not realize how big it would become.”

The event from 2:30 to 4 p.m. will feature 10 bestselling Acorn authors speaking about their experiences and books while signing volumes for attendees who purchase them.

One of those participating is Christina Mai Fong, who earned the distinction of writing Acorn’s 100th release — “Under the Lavender Moon.”

Holly Kammier, author and Acorn Publishing co-founder
Holly Kammier, author and Acorn Publishing co-founder
(Julia Badei)

“The story is a (young adult) fantasy,” Kammier said. “The main character is Asian. We are really about trying to promote diversity in authors, so that readers can read about characters from all sorts of different cultures and backgrounds.”

Other writers scheduled to appear are listed below along with their book titles and genres:

-David W. Reed, “Uphill and Into the Wind”, memoir;

-Fabrice Wilfong, “The Wingless Angel”, science fiction;

-T.D. Fox, “The Walls of Orion”, young adult dystopian;

-Sherrill Joseph, “The Botanic Hill Detective Mysteries,” middle grade mystery;

-D. James Mcgee, “Beauty is the Beast,” thriller;

-Nancy Johnson, “Things My Mama Never Told Me,” teen education;

-Lacey Impellizeri, “Your Words Count”, book-writing guide;

-Danielle Harrington, “The Hollis Timewire Series,” young adult fantasy

-Dennis K. Crosby, “Death’s Legacy”, urban fantasy.

Crosby said he, like many new authors, tried unsuccessfully to get his book accepted through literary agents and publishing houses.

Having met Kammier and Therrien at a writers conference a few years ago, the San Diego resident decided to reach out to them in spring 2020.

“I’d always admired the business model — the hybrid model,” he said. “But like many authors when they start out, they think, ‘Let’s try the traditional approach.’ As I thought about it more and more after talking with them, I felt working with Acorn would be the best opportunity for me. ...

“I jumped on the chance to take my first novel and partner with them to make it the best it could possibly be and I’m really excited and thrilled that I did. It was the perfect choice I think for me coming out of the gates as a first-time author.”

Not only did Crosby’s book sell well, the attention he received through its success led him to be invited to speak at a number of book and authors’ events.

“It’s working out great,” he said. “(“Death’s Legacy”) debuted on Amazon in three different categories of Hot New Releases. It became a bestseller in January. Because of what I’ve been able to do with Acorn, I’ve been invited to speak at a lot of events.”

In the “hybrid model,” authors pay a company such as Acorn upfront to do all of the work that typical self-publishing writers would have to do themselves, including intensive editing, creating cover art and promoting.

“(The writers) invest in themselves upfront and then they keep all their rights and profits on the back end,” Kammier said. “It’s the reverse model of a traditional publishing house, where you may get a little bit of an advance and they take on the financial responsibility of cover design and things like that, but then they keep the majority of the profit.”

In the traditional model, she said, only about 2 percent of authors’ books are taken on by agents and only about 2 percent of books represented by agents are accepted by publishers.

For Acorn’s model to work, Kammier said, it must be careful in choosing clients to ensure they and the company are maximizing results. Acorn’s lowest fee per book is nearly $7,000.

“We are very selective,” she said. “We don’t take anybody. We only accept about 10 percent of the books that are submitted to us, which is much higher than the 2 percent of the 2 percent.

“We have authors who have come to us who have waited years to get an agent and would have never gotten published.”

A unique aspect of Acorn’s services is its connections to publishers in Europe, through which it can promote its books for publication in foreign languages.

The last of the three novels Kammier’s Acorn has published — “Lost Girl” — was issued in Italian by an imprint in Italy.

“There is no other hybrid publisher out there that does that and there’s no other hybrid publisher out there that’s giving their authors 100 percent of their rights,” she said. “We’re the only ones to do that. And I believe that’s because we’re writers first.”

To experience Acorn’s success as well as her own books has provided a “huge sense of accomplishment,” said Kammier, who comes from a background in journalism.

“Every step of the way has been completely organic,” she said. “We did not ever sit down with this plan to be who we are now. It was ‘Oh my gosh, this did well. Why don’t we take on a couple of more authors?’”

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