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  • Writer's pictureStacey Ebert

Series: Avenues of Publishing (Part IV - Hybrid Publishing)

Do you have that unfinished novel sitting in a drawer? Do you spend your days searching for publishers and scrolling through Amazon to figure out how that book you’re writing can make it onto their ‘top sellers’ list? We get it! In this series we’ve scoured the resources on varied avenues of publishing to help guide you on your journey. We’ve shared the details and pitfalls of traditional publishing, self-publishing, and the likes of vanity publishing. While hybrid publishing is a new addition to the playground, it’s got bits of nitty gritty details you’ll want to know about before diving in - keep reading, we’ll fill you in.

What does Hybrid Publishing look like?

Hybrid publishing is the newest breed on the market. It’s similar to the traditional model in that you still submit a copy of your treasured manuscript; the differences lie in what happens next. If your manuscript is accepted the publisher invests, thereby managing a large chunk of the financial risk yet allowing the author to also be a part of that risk and contribute money, too.

Hybrid publishing is more of a collaboration where publishers often fully take on or offer services like marketing, distribution, and production of your book while the author pays a set fee. Royalties are split on a different level than that of the traditional publishing arrangement. There’s no advance like in traditional deals; hybrid royalties are more akin to 60-80% allowing authors to ‘recoup their losses’ faster and put the pedal to the metal on marketing their creation. The hybrid publishing concept allows ‘smaller, independent presses to greenlight more projects by mitigating risk while still providing the expertise and core services a traditional publisher would’. With a hybrid deal, the author and company are more like partners than the typical model of client and publishing house.

Why would you go the hybrid publishing route?

The hybrid route isn’t for the faint of heart - or faint of finances. While there’s still a bit of an upfront payment and no advance, there are definitely a heap of pros found in this newer version of how to get your work out there in the world:

  • Save time on the stuff you don’t like very much

  • Professional quality without seeking out individual professionals

  • Selection process isn’t as difficult as that of traditional publishing houses

  • Higher royalties

  • A bit more author control than traditional publishers

When choosing the right hybrid publisher for you, seek one receptive to the new standards put out by the Independent Book Publishers Association who is focused on ‘quality publication standards, professional publisher-author relationships, and quality marketing and distribution services.’ Check that the one you choose inks their imprint on the books they’ve published just like the big dogs do. A good and valued hybrid publisher will provide quality services like assistance with launching your book, distribution, media, marketing, and more.

Before jumping in with both feet, consider if it’s the route for you. Guide your internal questioning process with the likes of: Can you handle that initial payment? Do you feel you know enough about this whole publishing industry thing? How much control do you need over the entire process and how far-reaching is that platform of yours? If the path feels right, follow that brick road all the way to the publishing castle.

Why choose another avenue of publishing?

Like life, there are various paths for each of us to take and no two paths will ever look exactly alike. So, just because your best friend or book club told you this one’s it - think long and hard before taking the plunge. Perhaps there’s another path for you altogether.

  • That financial investment is way too much agita to handle

  • You’re concerned about what that end quality might look like

  • You're just not sure that this company isn’t really a vanity press in disguise

  • You just don’t feel like they’re going to be able to live up to the newly released standards for hybrid publishers

  • You’re still getting a fuzzy read on them about a secure contract and keep feeling like there will most certainly be hidden fees along the way

  • You can’t get a hard and fast answer on those royalty rates

Just as you’ve made decisions throughout your writing journey, now is the time to decide which type of partner you’d like along the last leg of the expedition. While traditional publishing is harder to break into, they handle all the minutiae and provide an advance, yet often have far more say in how the story plays out than the author does. While self-publishing allows the author to retain all rights and get all the glory, that author also takes on full responsibility for all things marketing and financial risks. And, as always, beware of those vanity press deals that often pose as a true hybrid publisher.

I used to frequent the diners that lined the areas of my hometown. Each visit the multitude of options on the menu struck me. Pick a meal, pick a favorite, or even bring a picky eater friend - there was always something for everyone. But the giant menu overwhelmed me in offering me so much choice, even though it was possible I didn’t even want half the items available. I imagine this is how many of us feel when thinking about how to publish our story today. But there is no need to be overwhelmed about avenues of publishing. We’ve sorted through the details, navigated the specifics, and are now ready to place our order. Whether you choose the avenue of traditional, self, or hybrid publishing, you’re ready and we’re behind you 100% – Go get ‘em.

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