As an author, one of the most crucial decisions you will make is how to publish your book. In the past, authors had limited options - either go the traditional publishing route and face the challenges of finding a literary agent and securing a publishing deal, or take matters into their own hands and self-publish. However, in recent years, a new player has emerged in the publishing industry - hybrid publishing.
Hybrid publishing combines the worst aspects of traditional publishing and self-publishing, offering authors a unique approach to getting their work out into the world. In this article, we will delve into the world of hybrid publishing and explore its process, challenges, and more.
Before we dive into this article, It is important to note that Huntsville Independent Press is a purely traditional press, and we would never condone or encourage an author to publish a book with a hybrid publisher. By and large, hybrid publishing companies are money-hungry entities that overpromise and under deliver. I wont say to you that this is globally the case, but as I said, most hybrid publishers are a sham.
TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING VS. SELF-PUBLISHING VS. HYBRID PUBLISHING
Traditional publishing involves the submission of a manuscript to a publishing house, which then takes care of editing, marketing, distribution, and other aspects of the book's publication.
Self-publishing, on the other hand, puts the entire publishing process in the hands of the author, from editing to cover design to distribution. Authors who successfully self-publish can expect higher profit margins on each book sale. They also enjoy the security that no one else owns the rights to their book.
Hybrid publishing falls somewhere in between these two models. It allows authors to retain creative control over their work while also having certain aspects of the publishing journey handled for them. Unlike traditional publishing, authors are expected to contribute financially to the production costs of the book.
UNDERSTANDING THE HYBRID PUBLISHING PROCESS
Now that you understand a little bit about what a hybrid publisher is, let’s talk about what happens when you want to use one. The first thing that will happen, most likely, is that you will select a publication plan for your book. Often, these “publishers” will have tiered packages that an author can purchase, each package including more features than the last. Of course, payment will be expected up front, at which point you will be contacted by an “editor” who is likely to gather some information about your book.
When your manuscript is accepted, (which it always will be,) the next step is to negotiate a contract with the hybrid publisher. This is a crucial stage in the process as it determines the terms of your partnership, including royalty rates, marketing efforts, and distribution channels. Of course, when I say negotiate, what I really mean is that they have a standard contract that you’ll be expected to sign. It is essential to thoroughly review the contract and seek legal advice if needed to ensure you are getting a fair deal. While it isn’t common for these publishing houses to ask for a stake of your rights or a percentage of royalties, you can easily become trapped in a bad contract with no way out. So you’ll absolutely have to keep your eyes peeled for any such wording in the contract that you sign.
Once the contract is signed, the hybrid publisher will guide you through the editing and design process. That’s a fancy way to say that they will create the book in the background and likely do a terrible job at that. Often times, a publisher like this will offer only a couple of revisions in their packages. If you don't like the cover after the third try, that’s too bad! Though I’m sure they’d be happy to do it over for an additional fee. Another point to be made here is that while manuscript editing would otherwise be included in a publishing deal, many of these “publishers” offer no such service, and are happy to publish your book exactly as you deliver your manuscript.
EXAMINING YOUR CONTRACT WITH A HYBRID PUBLISHER
On a related note to the above section, here are the specific things to be on the lookout for when reviewing your contract with a potential publisher that utilizes the hybrid model. It is essential to understand the terms and conditions outlined in the contract to ensure you are making an informed decision. Here are a few key points to keep in mind during the negotiation process:
Royalty Rates: Determine the percentage of royalties you will receive for each book sold. Compare this rate with industry standards to ensure you are receiving a fair share of the book's earnings, especially if you aren’t sure if you’re getting the full amount.
Marketing Efforts: Discuss the marketing and promotional strategies that the hybrid publisher will employ to help promote your book. Ask for specific details and examples of successful campaigns they have run in the past. You may be surprised to find that a hybrid publisher will offer the same level of effort that most traditional presses will offer: Nada. That’s right, most traditional presses wont lift a finger to sell your book, pushing the entire burden of success on you, the author.
Distribution Channels: Clarify the distribution channels through which your book will be made available. Ask about both online and offline options, including major retailers, independent bookstores, and digital platforms. You’ll find that most hybrid presses only offer distribution through KDP or IngramSpark, without any thrills or frills. The only thing they’ll have to do is upload the files they created for your book, and boom: it’s “published.”
Rights and Ownership: Understand the rights and ownership of your work. Ensure that you retain the necessary rights to your book and that the hybrid publisher's involvement is limited to the agreed-upon publishing services. This one is self explanatory. Don’t inadvertently sign away all of your rights to a work. As an author, your work should stay your own.
By carefully reviewing and negotiating the contract, you can establish a mutually beneficial partnership with the hybrid publisher and set the stage for a successful publishing journey.
DISTRIBUTION AND SALES CHANNELS FOR HYBRID-PUBLISHED BOOKS
One of the biggest flaws in signing with a hybrid publisher you may notice is that many avenues of distribution are left out by your publisher. Of the several platforms below, you’d be lucky to find two together in your hybrid publishing deal. Read on below to see what types of distribution you should be looking for in your publishing package.
Online Retailers: Make sure your book is available through major online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Book Depository. These platforms have extensive reach and can help you tap into a global audience.
Independent Bookstores: You can reach out to independent bookstores in your area and offer signed copies of your book for sale. Local bookshops often support local authors and can provide valuable exposure within your community.
Libraries: Make sure your publisher provides you with the opportunity to have your book stocked in libraries. You can contact local libraries and inquire about their submission process for adding new titles to their collection.
Direct Sales: Set up an online store on your website where readers can purchase signed copies of your book directly from you. This allows you to establish a direct connection with your readers and maximize your earnings. I’ve seen very few publishers that offer this as a part of the packages they sell but it does happen occasionally.
By diversifying distribution and sales channels, you increase the chances of reaching a wider audience and maximizing your book's potential sales. Personally, I would make sure that my hybrid publisher (a.k.a the people I’m paying to publish my book) are doing everything they can to make sure that copies are being pushed and sold.
LIMITATIONS AND CHALLENGES OF HYBRID PUBLISHING
I know it may seem like this whole article has been negative up until this point - and it’s true that I do have a low opinion of hybrid publishers - but I just can’t find that many positive things about paying someone to publish a book for me. A publisher should publish from a place of passion, and not for monetary gain. I’d want someone who believes in my work and my message. You can’t expect someone to put their best foot forward just for a paycheck. They have to want it. It’s the same principal when it comes to publishing a book.
With that in mind, let’s take a more in depth look at some of the negative aspects hybrid publishing:
Financial Investment: As previously mentioned, authors are expected to contribute financially to the production costs of their book. This investment can vary greatly depending on the publisher and the scope of the project. A hybrid publisher will always want you to pay.
Marketing Responsibility: Authors are still responsible for actively promoting their books. This can be time-consuming and may require additional investment in marketing efforts.
Quality Control: IMPORTANT It is crucial to ensure that the final product meets professional standards. This requires careful attention to editing, design, and overall production quality. It’s primarily going to be your name pasted on their work, so you’d best be sure to be on top them while they put your book together
Reputation and Perception: Hybrid publishing is a relatively new concept, and most industry professionals view it with skepticism. It is important to research and choose a reputable hybrid publisher to avoid any negative associations, if you’re going to do this at all.
By being aware of these issues and working as closely as possible with your hybrid publisher, you can navigate the publishing process effectively and maximize the potential of your book.
While we would never recommend an author use a hybrid publisher, we understand that it can be tempting just to pay out of pocket to avoid the dog and pony show. As you can see, there’s a bit more to hybrid publishing that meets the eye. You never quite know what you’re going to get when you sign on the dotted line. I’d like to discourage you from wasting your money if I can, as well as to offer some words of encouragement.
Getting published properly is hard. There’s no doubt about it. But if you are patient and work hard in querying the right presses and people, eventually you’ll find someone who believes in your book as much as you do. So hold your head up high, keep your shoulders back, and keep moving on. The right press is out there waiting for you, and they’ll treat you well.
Owner / Publisher
Huntsville Independent Press
ABOUT HUNTSVILLE INDEPENDENT PRESS
Huntsville Independent Press is the premiere publishing imprint of the Southeast United States, and we want to help you, the author. HIP provides, at no cost to our signed authors, a better solution for the publication of your story. Our contracts are non-restrictive and offer higher royalties for our authors. No HIP advance is taken out of royalties. Your advance from us is a one-time payment for the privilege to publish your book and is not a loan. Our passionate team of editors work diligently to ensure that the uniqueness of your story is preserved through the editing process. While you’re here, feel free to look around to see if Huntsville Independent Press is the right home for your work. We are always happy to have talented authors find a publishing home here with us.