Thursday, September 29, 2022

Dear O'Abby: What is hybrid publishing?

 Dear O'Abby,

I've completed a novel I'm pretty happy with.  My readers seem to like it and I feel like it's in a pretty good place to begin the publishing journey.  I've written other books in the past, queried them (unsuccessfully) and even ventured into self-publishing.  

Since I was last considering publication, there seems to be a new thing called "hybrid" publishing around and I'm not entirely sure what this is.  Can you illuminate me? Is this just a new name for vanity publishing? 

Thanks so much!



Dear OldSkool,

Good question!  Hybrid publishing is a relatively recent model which sits somewhere between self-publishing and traditional publishing.  

Under this model the author will still cover the majority of costs for the publication of the book, much like self-publishing.  The advantages are that a hybrid publisher will have distribution networks a self-published author probably doesn't have and will be able to get the book into bookstores.

The publisher will likely have their own imprints and your book would be published under one of these and receive its ISBN from the publisher.  

To offset the investment you put into the publishing of your book, royalty rates with hybrid publishers tend to be higher than traditional publishing.  But the publisher will still take a cut that would not be taken out if you self-published.

Be aware that even though you may be willing to pay a hybrid publisher, they may not accept your book.  Like all businesses, hybrid publishers need to focus on books that will make money and enhance their reputation, so they are likely to focus their time and energy on authors whose work is likely to sell. 

Just like with small presses, I suggest you do through research before submitting to a hybrid publisher.  If they don't have access to better distribution tools than you would have as a self-published author, there is little point. There may be some editorial work done on your book, but as a self-publisher you probably already have an editor you work with, or could find one whose fees fit your budget.

You also need to consider if you can afford to pay for the print run.  As a hybrid author your books will likely be sent to bookstores on consignment, and if they don't sell, you may be saddled with a print run that costs thousands of dollars that doesn't return much to you.  You may also lose control of some decision making about your book like pricing, where it is sold and even editorial matters.

At the end of the day, the decision is yours.  While it may be exciting to have your book accepted by a publisher and to have your name next to theirs on the cover, you will still be paying to produce the book.  Unless the publisher has a strong track record of success in publishing and distributing its books, the value of giving up a percentage of royalties may be limited.

Hope that helps and good luck with your publishing journey!  

X O'Abby

P.S.  If you do decide to go with a hybrid publisher, perhaps you might like to share the experience with us.  I'm sure you're not the only one curious about this. 

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