Today’s Pondering~The package or the gift…

I am a firm believer in the notion that what really matters is the thought and sentiment behind a gift. The idea that someone has tried and thought enough of you to bring you a gift means more than any amount of fancy packaging or branding could ever mean. I’ve never placed much stock in labels or doing what’s trendy. As a matter of fact, I tend to hate trendy things or any process that relies too heavily on what something looks like rather than what it actually is. I run into this quite a bit as a publisher. There are people out there who think that if their book doesn’t look like the other 800 million or so books out there, it isn’t as good or it won’t be as well-received. What a boring mentality! I can’t imagine taking the time to write a book and then wanting it to basically blend in with all the others out there. I certainly don’t want that. And I won’t do what everyone else does just to appease big egos.

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I finally published my first book, In the Wash: The Rona Shively Stories back in 2004 or 2005 with a less than reputable publisher. It wasn’t a vanity press, but it was one of those fly-by-night, let’s publish everyone type of publishers. I needed a way in and they opened the door. They didn’t do much else, but they helped me get over the mentality that I could never be a writer because one of the big houses hadn’t picked me up yet. In my experience with this publisher, I found that it really didn’t matter who published you. Most readers who are actually looking for something good to read don’t care who your publisher is. They just want to see a decent looking book that contains a decent read. Even then, there are readers out there who don’t care much about the cover. They are simply looking for something good to read that will make them think or feel something.

While I’m not a fan of trendy packaging, I’ve always been a stickler for a nice cover. In some cases, I will allow an author to use one that they have created even when I don’t particularly like the design. This doesn’t happen often, mind you, because I want our books to stand out. I want people to see that there is more to HGBM than just producing cookie-cutter covers and sub-standard stories for the sake of saying someone is published. We DO review manuscripts and we DO turn people away. We do not accept every book sent to us and I’ve been called lots of names over the years because I wouldn’t cave to pressure to do so. We do not publish things that fall outside of our submission guidelines and we aren’t interested in being the most popular publisher on the block. Our mission is to help people tell their stories and to incorporate God’s healing and power into the telling of those stories so that He is lifted up. It is not our mission to lift the author up.

Unfortunately, the many vanity presses and other types of hybrid publishers out there that will publish anyone for a buck make it difficult for independent publishers like HGBM to maintain our identity as a different kind of publisher. Over the last eight years, I’ve answered tons of questions about what we do and I’ve had to go many rounds with authors who have misunderstood our processes and our way of doing business. So, I am going to spell it out here in hopes that I can point to this post later when someone else approaches me with questions about what we do:

  1. We are an independent publisher operating to uphold God’s word. We are NOT a vanity press. We do NOT charge our authors to publish. We operate in the same way that traditional publishers operate, but on a much smaller scale because we are a small business.
  2. We do offer paid services through our consulting arm, HGBM Services. This is not the same as Higher Ground Books & Media.
  3. We DO pay royalties according to the contract we have with each author.
  4. We price our books according to our internal research on how books should be priced. We run sales on our website, however, Amazon/KDP also marks our titles down from time to time because we use their platform to publish our books.
  5. We are a print-on-demand publisher. Our office is a room inside my very small apartment. We have not warehouse. It’s just me and my computer.
  6. We do all cover design for our books with a very small exception for those we approve on a case-by-case basis.
  7. We are NOT a marketing company, but we do corporate marketing for the titles we publish. Our consulting division does provide marketing services, but Higher Ground Books & Media is a publisher, not a marketing company.
  8. We operate on a very tight budget and we do not sub out services that we can do ourselves. All expenses are paid with the publisher’s percentage of royalties earned and out of my own pocket when necessary.
  9. We publish empowering, inspiring materials for adults and children. We DO NOT publish horror or erotica. We only publish books that are based in Christian principles and behaviors. There are more than enough publishers out there who cater to things that contradict God’s word. We do not need to be a part of that group. Our mission is to glorify God, not Satan.
  10. We do not exist to bolster an author’s ego. We love and are very proud of the authors who have signed with us and the work they have done to write and promote their books. We are not here to make anyone famous or to make anyone rich. If our authors do become rich and famous as a result of publishing with us, we certainly rejoice with them but that is not our goal. Our goal is to help them share stories that may help others to overcome challenges they face and to show how God’s intervention or teachings have a positive impact on even the most negative life events.

As Dr. Phil would say, “It’s not about you.” It’s about lifting God up and sharing His goodness with everyone who will read our stories. To some, this may sound harsh. But our mission has been the same since we started and until God tells us it is time to close our doors, we will continue to work toward this goal. Many won’t like us or understand what we do, but we aren’t here to please anyone but God. We would love for you to gain some wisdom or healing from the awesome books we offer, but if you aren’t ready for them, that’s okay. They’ll be here for you when you are. We don’t all heal at the same pace. And our walk with God is a very personal thing which happens at His pace, not ours. We have been tasked to provide resources to help with that healing and with your walk. And that’s what we do.

Rebecca Benston is the owner of Higher Ground Books & Media and the author of over twenty titles currently available through Amazon and other outlets. Her books include a mystery series (The Rona Shively Stories), empowerment resources such as Wise Up to Rise Up, Don’t Be Stupid (And I Mean That in the Nicest Way), and From Judgment to Jubilee, children’s books including Grumble D. Grumble Learns to Smile, All the Scary Things, and See How Strong You Are. Benston lives in Springfield, Ohio with her awesome daughter, Mya and enjoys traveling, reading, writing, and telling it like it is. She enjoys being able to help other authors get their stories out there through Higher Ground and has recently expanded her freelance services to offer more extensive guidance as a writing coach and social media manager. For more information, you can contact Benston at

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ronashively View All →

My name is Rebecca Benston. I’m a Christian. I’m a woman. I’m a mother. I’m a writer. I’m a thinker. When I write fiction, I am usually writing a mystery series called The Rona Shively Stories. My P.I. character, Rona Shively is feisty, fearless and fabulous and is usually caught up in something she doesn’t want to be caught up in. In addition to this series, I also have a blog called Higher Ground for Life. Through this blog, I’m hoping to reach women or anyone who is seeking to develop a relationship with God and give them inspiration to get out there and follow His path for their lives!
I also have a blog called Leading the Follower. This one is my favorite. I write about religion, faith, spirituality and all that goes along with it. What we believe, what we don’t believe, what we are told to believe and how society feels about believing in general. I do a lot of testifying here and some of what I say may make you angry. Most of it will make you think. Some of it will make you cry. Any of it could make you laugh. It’s really up to you.

If you are looking for practical advice, honest conversation, and no nonsense observations about living in today’s world, check out my blogs at and and and And if you’re so inclined, you can purchase my books and some other great, inspirational works from Higher Ground Books & Media at

Be blessed!

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