Charles didn't want to self-publish (that can sometimes be a full-time job of its own), but he was curious about an idea I had-- self-produced manuscripts, which I later renamed CONCEPT PROOFS.
My thinking is this: In this landscape of publishers trimming down editors, swallowing up other publishers and imprints, and more and more agents looking for that 'next big thing' and being less patient to grow an authors' careers (I'm not saying all agents are like this, but there is a trend.), it's harder and harder to get a foot in the door.
Even once you've made it as far as an agent, and, into a publisher for consideration, your book could die on the phrase "I don't know how to market this." On the one hand, the reason is bunk, on the other, publishing is a business, so they have to think in those terms. An agent or an editor must look at a manuscript and/or query letter and visualize possibilities; the kind of book that might come out of this double-spaced gathering of text.
The Concept Proof is an option for authors who want to take the chance to visualize how their book might look from a publisher; they can determine whether it draws heavily on genre book design or other, 'mainstream' design aspects (a cross-over book like Niffenegger's "The Time-Traveler's Wife", for example). So this is why we made HASH; I took Charles' novel, decided how I wanted it to look on the inside, while the multi-talented Charles (I said so earlier, remember?) designed his own cover, and the photos show what came out of it. Our hope is that we've done some of the conceptualizing for the prospective agent or publisher, and they'll be more open to considering it.
All that said, we know that we can't be sending the physical copy to everyone under the sun; most agents and/or publishers only take digital submissions. But it's a cozy little world out there in Publishingland, and who knows who you might run into at a party or convention?