It’s official. I am now the proud owner of a well-established publishing company.
Yeh, I know. I started 18% Gray Publishing a few months back and published two books. But, this is different. This is bigger … much bigger.
On May 11, I purchased PathBinder Publishing from Heather Hummel Gallagher, who founded it nearly 15 years ago and has grown it to include a dozen or so published authors, several titles available, and prospects for more of both on the horizon.
I’ve known Heather for roughly the past 10 years, a period of time that began with her helping me negotiate a contract for my first book as an author. She’s served as an invaluable source of encouragement and knowledge ever since in any area of book publishing.
Now, I have an opportunity to fill her shoes as owner and creative director of PathBinder. I will not fill those shoes the same way Heather did; that’s impossible. We have our own strengths, tastes and methods. But, I can assure you that we both have a passion for creativity, especially in the area of books.
I have extensive experience in many parts of the publisher job requirements. I was an editor of one sort or another throughout my 34-year career in journalism. Much of that time, I also served as a writer. The final 19-plus years of my career was spent as a special publications editor, supervising the production of specialty or niche magazines and other special sections.
During that time, I wrote two nonfiction/true crime/history books that were published by The History Press: “Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher” and “Wicked Columbus, Indiana.”
My journalism career ended in September 2019, when I decided to write full-time. The plan was to finish a novel set in Ireland that I’d started a few years earlier, perhaps pick up some freelance editing and writing gigs, give some seminars, sell books at craft sales and author events, etc. This plan was endorsed by my wife, who has the job with the great health insurance and who also writes children’s books.
Well, life has a funny way of taking my plans and messing them up. Writing a novel is so much different than writing the nonfiction that I had done for years as a journalist and author. So, the novel was taking longer than I’d planned. Coronavirus canceled all author gigs, craft sales, etc. Our household income dropped even more when my wife’s company told her that she would only have to work 36 hours per week instead of the 40, and she’d be paid for the 36, which is fair yet hurtful to our checking account.
An opportunity to edit and publish a book for a longtime musician who has battled bipolar disorder came up, so seeing as I had some extra time and could use a little cash, I accepted the job. I’d edited my whole professional career, and people self-publish all the time. I can do this!
Well, I did do it. But not without a few stumbles along the way as I learned the ins and outs of formatting in a program other than the one I used for more than a decade at the
old day job. At the end of March, I published “Shut Up and Listen: Me vs. Me – Confessions of a Bipolar Rock and Roller” by Rob McCuen.
Immediately thereafter, I got two inquiries from authors about possibly publishing their books, and I thought I might be able to do more of this. I also knew my dad had been working on his memoirs for 18 years, and now that I knew how to publish, maybe it was time to turn that into a book.
I bought some desktop publishing software at half-price and put together Dad’s book: “The Tales of Hoffman(n): Memoirs, Essays and More from World War II All the Way to Coronavirus.” It’s so new, he doesn’t even have his copies yet, and we haven’t told the public it’s for sale. But since you know about it, you can view it here.
All of which leads me to the PathBinder thing. I happened to mention to Heather not long ago what was going on in my life and that I was thinking of getting into publishing more.
She said, “I hadn’t planned on selling PathBinder for a few years, but maybe the time is right.” Or something like that; I wasn’t taking notes.
The more we talked about it, the more we realized that this was the right decision for both of us. She’s going to be able to focus on her ghostwriting clients and her own writing. I’m going to focus less on that persnickety novel set in Ireland and more on helping other authors get published by providing professional editing, design and guidance.
PathBinder is a boutique (hybrid) publishing company. We help authors with whatever they need to get their messages into print and e-book form, from manuscript consultation to editing to designing and production to getting the books to a printer and marketing the books and the authors through various platforms. In an ideal relationship, both PathBinder and author collaborate throughout the process. It’s a personal process that is unique to each author and his or her needs and desires.
Take a look at the PathBinder website to see where we’re at now (don’t freak out if you don’t see my face on it yet; that will be taken care of really soon). Heather and I have talked over some new or enhanced services that I might want to incorporate at some point. Who knows exactly what the future holds for us? All I know is that life can throw you some funky curve balls; sometimes, it’s good to take a hack at one and see if you get a hit.
With the help of people currently working for PathBinder and its authors, and those who come on board in the future, I am anticipating smacking this particular curve ball over the fence.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me in my personal and professional efforts over the years, from my family to my brothers and sisters in journalism, fellow authors, publishers and especially my wife, Kimberly.
Paul J. Hoffman
Owner and Creative Director
For more information/background on me, check out my author website here.
This is awesome. Good for you! I’m sure you will do an amazing job. Best of luck, always.
Thank you so much. That means a lot coming from you!