What Hybrid Publishers Offer

This week's Ask Robin Question: Suzen Fiskin writes: 'You speak of 'Hybrid publishing' How do I dig deeper to learn about it and what are the names of some of these publishers so that I can explore it?"

Answer: A hybrid press is a company that publishes authors with a shared risk/shared profits model. Some of these companies are selective, others are merely “pay-to-play” and will publish anyone who can write a check.

Traditional publishing has a long history of being slow moving and highly selective with publishers taking 100% of the risk and keeping the lion’s share of the proceeds from book sales. Over the past 20 years, self-publishing has grown in popularity, mainly because anyone can publish and publish fast, authors maintain full creative control, and they keep all of the profits.

One of the main challenges self-published authors have faced is using service providers who don’t know what they’re doing and ending up with shoddily edited books with covers that look homemade. The other common difficulty is getting bookstores to carry their books.

Thus the hybrid press has emerged as a middle-ground alternative.

The advantages to going through a hybrid press over self-publishing are mainly project management and distribution. With a hybrid press, all the services that go into producing a book are in-house, so you don’t have to shop around for service providers—editorial, cover design, interior design, printing, etc.

On the distribution side, many hybrid presses have access to distributors who sell to bookstores, similar to the major publishing houses. This means your book goes into the catalogs the hybrid press puts out to book buyers, and you don’t have to shop your book to stores yourself.

Generally, the overall costs of using a hybrid press are higher than if you self publish, and more books are sold online these days than in bookstores, but taking the project management off your plate may make it worth it.

As to specific companies, I know of a few where people I know have had good experiences. They include Archway Publishing, Motivational Press, and Morgan James Publishing.

With so many hybrid presses now in business, it’s impossible to name them all, but I can advise you to look for the following characteristics. (Again, by no means an exhaustive list, but a good place to start.)

  1. Books in their catalog look professionally done and are done to standards set by traditional houses.
  2.  Use a publishing rights contract that you can easily end and keep your file if the publisher is not doing their job, the company folds, or if you want to pursue another option for any reason.
  3. You always keep the copyright to your own work. (This is true no matter who publishes it.)
  4. The publisher has and uses their distribution channels on your behalf.
  5. Publisher gives you an easy way to order more of your own books at a reasonable (no more than 50% of cover price) cost.
  6. Ensures that your book is available on Amazon.com and in Kindle format as well as other electronic platforms
  7. Typically, I say don’t purchase their marketing packages, as they usually are overpriced and ineffective, but I'm not familiar with all of the offerings, and offerings change, so I can't say with certainty never to do it. Just remember, marketing is on the author. Period.

Anything you care to add? Please leave your comments.