Community Member Q&A: Wild Horse Media

Wild Horse Media
Founded by Billy Huckaby in 2005 and based in Fort Worth, TX, Wild Horse Media Group is a multi-media company that includes imprints Eakin Press, NorTex Press, and Wild Horse Press as well as a retail company Cowboy Bookworm which specializes in books and other merchandise about the West.
Wild Horse Media Group is also a proud Community Member of the Writers’ League of Texas. Read the interview below with Billy Huckaby to find out more about them.
wild horse media headshotScribe: Wild Horse Media Group is made up of several imprints specializing in books about Texas and the West. Can you give us a little background of how your company came together and how you got into the book business?
Wild Horse Media: I have always been a bit of a book nut, dating back to elementary school. I am an old newspaper and magazine editor and publisher, so book publishing seemed a pretty natural progression. I started Wild Horse Press and Cowboy Bookworm in 2006 and in 2013 we formed Wild Horse Media Group and acquired all of the assets of Sunbelt Media, which included Eakin Press and NorTex Press. Ed Eakin was a legend in Texas book publishing and I am honored to be able to carry on what he started. He got started in book publishing back in the 1950s with Clarendon Press. In the 1960s he launched NorTex and in the mid-70s Eakin Press.  I was amazed at the number of titles Eakin published and the variety of titles. There are well over a thousand titles in print and you can name about any subject and Eakin published a book on that topic at one time or another.
Scribe: On your website it mentions you offer “Custom Book Publishing.” Can you tell us more about this service and how interested readers should get in touch?
WHM: NorTex Press was the custom publishing arm of Sunbelt Media and they published a lot of county and city histories. They also did a lot of church histories. We have taken on a couple of custom publishing projects since acquiring NorTex but we are still tweaking the business model. Our primary focus at the moment is traditional book publishing. But anyone that is interested in book publishing is welcome to contact me.
Scribe: You taught a workshop at Texas Christian University on Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing in February of this year. What’s one way the industry has changed in the past few years that writers should be excited about?
WHM: I start every discussion on the current state of book publishing by saying, “The great thing today is that anybody can get a book published and the worst thing is that anybody can get a book published.”
There is a lot of junk being published and unfortunately all of those books flood into the market and it makes it harder for the better books to break out and be successful. But a couple of great aspects of book publishing today are the Internet and print-on-demand. The Internet allows us to sell and market books worldwide and is vital to the book publishing process. Print-on-demand has been around for some time and Ed Eakin was a pioneer in the process with probably the first print-on-demand system in Texas. The technology today provides a quality product and for a reasonable price. We are a great example since we have more than 1,000 titles.  When I started in book publishing print-on-demand was not available and you had to print roughly 3,000 copies of a title for the cost to be economical. That means we would need warehouse space to store roughly three million books. That is just not economically feasible. Print-on-demand also allows us to print and distribute books worldwide, without having to print books in the United States and then ship them to Australia or Great Britain. There are certainly book projects that require a traditional printer, but print-on-demand is a viable option for most books and all of the major publishers are using print-on-demand for some of their books.
Scribe: What do you see as the one or two biggest challenges facing independent publishers today?
WHM: The biggest challenge for an independent publisher is competing against the big publishing companies, just as it has always been. The other issue is Amazon and how they dominate the industry in several different areas. They have killed off many of the brick and mortar bookstores and with their CreateSpace and Kindle publishing platforms, they are by-passing publishers all together.  Amazon has also tried to meddle with the relationship between authors and publishers in the past trying to dictate royalties and book pricing. It is no secret that Amazon wants to and tried to dominate and control the book industry in every way they can. But at the same time the book publisher needs Amazon since they are the primary outlet for selling books. I guess you could call it a bit of a love/hate relationship or a necessary evil. But I do think the tide will turn and we will see more independent or mom and pop bookstores. There are great independent bookstores out there like BookPeople and Brazos Bookstore, so they can obviously be successful.
Scribe: How is Wild Horse Media adapting to meet these challenges?
WHM: Since we acquired Eakin and NorTex it has been an almost three-year struggle getting those imprints back on-track and making sure all of the titles are available and in-print. In 2016 we intend to focus on marketing and sales at the grassroots level. We have more Texas and Texana titles than any other publisher and we are going to focus on Texas and the Southwest as our marketplace.  We are also going to be highly selective in the titles we print and focus on quality book projects.
Scribe: Pick one Texas-related book that has come out within the past year that you couldn’t put down.
WHM: Unfortunately since I spend so much time reading manuscripts and working on book projects, I don’t get to read a lot of outside books. But we recently published a book titled, “Black Holocaust: The Paris Horror and a Legacy of Texas Terror.” It was written by E. R. Bills and recounts one of the darkest times in Texas when people of color were not only tortured and ultimately put to death by fire, but often for crimes they did not commit. It is a tough read due to the graphic text and photos, but it is riveting and should make people stop and think about race relations and how cruel seemingly normal and average men could be to their fellow man. The entire time we were working on the book we kept commenting how timely it seemed considering the current state of race relations. As soon as the book was released it got to number one on Amazon’s Hot New Releases list in African American history. The book has also been placed on the recommended reading list for African American scholars by The Journal for Blacks in Higher Education.
Scribe: What’s important to you about supporting the Writers’ League of Texas and being a community member?
WHM: It is important to have organizations like the Writers’ League of Texas that can represent not only authors, but also serve as a conduit to keep everyone involved informed about what is going on within the industry. I have always been impressed with the educational opportunities they provide to members and the public. It is important that companies such as mine support the organization financially so that they can continue the work and expand the services to members. There are a lot of companies and associations out there that promise people the world and they fail to deliver. I think the Writer’s League of Texas not only delivers, but is an organization that the more you put into it, the bigger the return.
Thanks, Billy!
Click here to visit Wild Horse Media’s website.
Are you a business or organization interested in getting involved?
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