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What to Look for in a Hybrid Publisher

Authors have more choices than ever when it comes to bringing their books into the world. In the evolving landscape of book publishing, hybrid publishing combines elements of both traditional publishing and self-publishing. For many authors, it offers the best of both worlds, providing them with a high-quality path to publishing while maintaining a degree of control and ownership over their creative process. There are a number of benefits to hybrid publishing, but it is still the lesser-known publishing option, and often gets a bad rap (sometimes justifiably). We’re here to talk about what to look for in a reputable hybrid publisher. But first, let’s walk through what hybrid publishing is and how it differs from other publishing types.

Author shaking hands on book publishing contract

What Is Hybrid Publishing?

As mentioned above, hybrid publishing is a collaborative model that blends elements of traditional and self-publishing. However, unlike traditional publishing, where authors typically submit their manuscripts to agents and publishing houses and there are an astonishingly low number of submissions accepted, hybrid publishing is much more accessible to a wider range of authors. Like traditional publishing, hybrid publishing provides professional services, including editing, cover design, interior book formatting, distribution, promotion, and marketing. Authors who use hybrid publishers don’t have to go it alone and do everything on their own, as they would with self-publishing.

Another major differentiator between traditional and hybrid publishing is that the latter is author subsidized. Under the hybrid publishing model, authors are typically required to invest in the publication process up front, covering at least a portion of the costs associated with editing, design, production, and marketing. In return, they typically receive a more favorable split of the royalties. Despite what many people believe, requiring advance payment for publishing services does not mean you’re working with a bad publisher. It simply means they are following an author-subsidized business model.

Key Measures of a Reputable Hybrid Publisher

Because of the proliferation of so-called vanity publishers who accept any author and charge an arm and a leg without providing quality services or support, aspiring authors do need to do their due diligence when deciding who to publish with. If you’re looking for a quality hybrid publisher, make sure they are a member of the Independent Book Publishing Association and they adhere to the hybrid publishing guidelines set forth by the IBPA. These are the hallmarks of a reputable hybrid publishing company.

  1. Selective submissions: Hybrid publishers carefully evaluate manuscript submissions and only accept those that meet quality standards to ensure market potential. This distinguishes hybrid publishing from self-publishing, where authors have the freedom to publish without a gatekeeper.

  2. Shared rights and royalties: Unlike traditional publishing, where publishers acquire the rights to an author's work (essentially, the author works for the publisher), hybrid publishing usually involves shared rights and royalties. Authors retain a significant portion of their rights, allowing them to make decisions regarding cover design, marketing messaging, formats, translations, or future editions. In most, but not all, cases, hybrid publishers offer a better royalty split than traditional publishers.

  3. Transparent Pricing: Hybrid publishers provide clear cost breakdowns for their publishing services, such as editing, design, promotion and distribution. There are no hidden fees or undisclosed expenses.

  4. Quality Services: Reputable hybrid publishers maintain high standards in editing, design, and production to produce professional-quality books. You can get an idea of the quality of the services by looking at the books they’ve published. Are the covers compelling? Is the interior formatting comparable to what you find in mass-marketed books? Is the copy free of errors? These are key indicators of the type of publisher you are working with.

  5. Distribution and Sales Channels: They offer wide distribution options, making books available to be distributed by major retailers, libraries, and online platforms, and in various formats (print, digital, and audiobook). At a minimum, the publisher should be making your book available on Amazon and IngramSpark.

  6. Marketing and Promotion: Reputable hybrid publishers provide marketing and promotional support, which may include securing advance readers and reviews, and providing assistance with book launches, author websites, social media marketing, and more. The best publishers create marketing and promotion campaigns around your specific book goals.

  7. Legal and Ethical Practices: Reputable hybrid publishers have transparent contracts that outline the terms and conditions of the publishing agreement. They do not engage in deceptive practices.

Signs You're Dealing with a Bad Publisher

While this isn’t exhaustive, here are a few warning signs that you’re dealing with a less than reputable publisher.

  • They will publish anything. Reputable publishers have a criteria for evaluating manuscripts to ensure they align with their vision.

  • They are not upfront about pricing, and their contract is confusing or unclear.

  • They require you to purchase a certain number of copies of your book, often at inflated prices.

  • They provide no marketing or promotional services for your book.

  • They are not affiliated with the IBPA.

  • They can't provide you with references.

  • They offer limited distribution.

  • They guarantee they can make you a bestseller or make exaggerated promises about your book's performance.

  • They have negative reviews online from authors who had a bad experience with them.

If you encounter several of these signs when dealing with a publisher, it’s a strong indication that you're working with a problematic or unscrupulous publisher. It's essential to carefully review any contracts, seek legal advice if necessary, before signing on with a publisher. Do your due diligence and seek out reviews and testimonials online and from other authors who have worked with them.

While hybrid publishing is the newest model of publishing, it’s got lots of benefits that make it a solid choice for many authors, especially entrepreneurs, coaches, business owners and other busy professionals seeking the middle ground between traditional publishing and self-publishing.

If you’re looking for a quality hybrid publisher for your non-fiction or memoir, you’ve come to the right place! Submit your manuscript today or book a free discovery call and learn how we can help you launch your book.

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