Hag’s Head began in 2003 as a record label and in 2005 published its first book. We publish a wide range of fiction and have recently begun to publish non-fiction/memoirs, but no poetry or drama.

We are not a traditional publishing house and have instead based our business practices on independent record labels. Hag's Head is best described as a sort of a co-op: our authors cover 50% of the expenses. The authors offer their work without an immediate financial return, and the publisher offers editing, design and publicity. Financial returns are split 50/50 for the first five years, with rights reverting to the author after that. Because the publisher does not retain rights to the back list, our potential earnings are greatly diminished, but we believe it is crucial that our authors retain rights to their work and contribute to the production of their books. Ideally, we hope to combine the best elements of self-publishing and indie productions, giving artists the benefits of getting their hands dirty while still having professional guidance. We have minimal overheads and no funding (and therefore no external demands or restrictions), so our only goal is to bring out books and records that we believe in and to produce them to the highest standard.

How does this affect what an author can earn?


The average book advance in the UK is £5,000, and 75% of authors never earn back their advances. We believe that few authors can expect to earn a living from their writing alone. This depressing fact also means that self-publishing—or some form of it—is more and more appealing financially. It has always been an appealing option to those who want control of their work in terms of quailty and creativity, but in the past was prohibitively expensive for the majority of writers. We do not offer our authors advances, but we do give authors 50% of profits, instead of 7–10% of sales, so there is a potential for much higher earnings. In most cases, though, the significant financial difference is that the rights revert to the author after five years.

What’s the difference between Hag’s Head and other independent publishers?


Publishing houses that are categorised as ‘independent’ are usually commercial enterprises and/or rely on government funding. They generally do not ask authors to bear any financial responsibility and in return offer their authors an advance and an average of 7–10% royalties after the advance is paid off. These publishing houses own their authors’ work (usually for the author’s lifetime plus 70 years), often ask for two- or three-book deals, and the publisher retains control of the design, editing, title, publicity, scheduling, etc.

Are self-publishing and vanity publishing the same thing?


No. In simplest terms, vanity publishing means that the author has paid someone else to publish the book and self-publishing is controlled by the author. We would encourage all authors to consider self-publishing.

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The Irish Times magazine 25 February 2006
Totally Dublin February 2006
The Sunday Tribune 14 August 2005

Hag's Head Press