The publishing game is not often kind to authors.
With the choice of either exclusive traditional publishing or costly, high-risk self-publishing, “hybrid publishing” has become a miracle pill for first-time authors.
It marries the production and distribution assistance of traditional publishing with the freedom, rights, and royalties of self-publishing. At first glance, hybrid publishing sounds like the long-awaited solution for lesser-known authors.
But there isn’t much clarity on what exactly hybrid publishing is.
The Internet often compares “hybrid publishing” to vanity publishing, scam publishing, and various other negative connotations. One side will tell you the whole thing is a ploy, and yet other, more optimistic authors will tell you it was their saving grace.
So which is it? Assisted self-publishing, a combination of traditional and self-publishing, or a complete scam?
Or is hybrid publishing truly the miracle it claims to be?
Let’s uncover the truth together.
What is the Hybrid Publishing Model?
First, let’s define what hybrid publishing isn’t.
1. Traditional Publishing
A traditional publisher buys the right to publish, sell, and distribute your book for a portion of the profit. Because “big” traditional publishers are selective with the books they choose to accept, there are typically more steps involved to acquire one.
In a conventional setting, you’ll need a query letter to find an agent, an agent to find a publisher willing to buy your book, and a pitch for the agent to send to the publisher.
If a publisher wants your book, they’ll pay you an advance upfront in exchange for the rights and a percentage of the royalties. An advance is a projection of how much a publisher expects your book to make in sales.
This is why modern traditional publishers seek authors with pre-established audiences. Popular authors are a safer bet to earning back on their advance, and the marketing is essentially done for them when the author announces their book.
If you sell any of your books’ rights to a publisher, you’re involved in traditional publishing.
Self-publishing means you undertake the publishing process without the involvement of a third party. I.e., you wear the hat of the writer and the publisher in order to publish your manuscript independently. You alone are responsible for the writing, marketing, publishing, and distribution processes.
The upside? This means you keep 100% of the rights and profits to your book. You also retain full creative control over the editing, illustration, and content.
As a self-publisher, you take on the financial risk of publishing in exchange for freedom over your manuscript.
3. “Vanity” Publishing
Vanity publishing involves paying a publishing house to publish and distribute your book. The term “vanity” publishing was coined because these publishers are known to appeal to an author’s ego in order to make a profit.
But there’s a catch. Traditional publishers have a hand in the vanity publishing narrative.
They want you to see vanity publishing as the evil inverse of traditional publishing: you pay a publishing company in exchange for low-quality assistance. That these publishers profit off of author fees, not the sale and distribution of your manuscript.
The result of this story is authors run to traditional publishers to avoid scams with “vanity publishers.” And while it’s true that some companies don’t have their author’s best interests at heart, this is a perverted truth that hurts real hybrid publishers.
The Truth about Hybrid Publishing
So what is a true hybrid publisher?
At Best Seller Publishing, we consider hybrid publishing to be a one-stop destination for self-publishers. We offer the expertise and resources of a traditional publisher while allowing you to keep 100% of the rights to your book.
In more general terms, hybrid publishing means an author pays a publication service to handle the production and distribution processes while they keep the rights and creative control over their book.
It’s essentially the best of both publishing worlds.
But unlike vanity publishers, true hybrid publishers are committed to getting their author’s results. For instance, Best Seller Publishing offers ghostwriters, graphic design, editing, formatting, and even marketing to ensure your book is a bestseller.
If hybrid publishing sounds like a good option for your manuscript, keep reading!
Let’s go over the additional benefits hybrid publishing offers to writers.
5 Hybrid Publishing Benefits
1. Faster Production Process
One major upside of hybrid publishing is its much shorter production time than traditional publishing. With traditional, you’re looking at a publishing timeline of 18 months to two years.
And you won’t be able to self-publish in between that time.
There are also more steps to the traditional publishing process that require more of the author.
You’ll have to query literary agents, pitch your book to publishers, and if you do manage to sign a book deal with one of them, your manuscript will be placed on a “fall” or “spring” waiting list.
Hybrid publishing skips the agents and the lists to jump on the publishing process right away.
With a hybrid publisher, you can expect a timeline as short as six months to publish and distribute your book.
2. Genre Freedom
Traditional publishers tend to be sticklers when it comes to printing niche or less popular genres.
They like to publish what’s hot—if your novel doesn’t fall into one of those categories, the chance you’ll get picked up by a traditional publishing company plummets.
An upside to hybrid publishing, like with self-publishing, is that you’re allowed more creative control.
If you know your audience is hungry for a specific genre, even if it isn’t popular at the time, you have full reign to print it anyway.
It’s also possible that hybrid publishing and self-publishing may lead to more opportunities down the road.
Even if your book is denied by a traditional publisher, publishing it through a different source could lead to increased sales, interest, and popularity that might catch the eye of a traditional publisher.
Books like Fifty Shades of Gray, After, and Legally Blonde started out self-published, then were picked up by traditional publishing houses and turned into movie deals.
Hybrid publishing is a good option for authors that know what their audience wants before traditional publishers do.
3. Higher % of Royalties Than Traditional Publishing
You will receive a higher percentage of royalties with hybrid publishing than with traditional publishing.
This can vary depending on the publisher, however. True hybrid publishers will almost always offer 100% rights and royalties. This is the model we follow at Best Seller Publishing.
In comparison, traditional publishers only offer their authors 10-15% in royalties.
You’ll get an advance upfront, but you’ll likely have to pay it back in the royalties you earn. Traditional publishers guarantee more books sold rather than a higher percentage of royalties.
One important thing to note is that you’re getting a higher percentage of royalties with hybrid publishing companies. This may not always mean books sold through a hybrid publisher can generate more royalties than a traditional publisher.
4. One-Stop-Shop for Resources
Not only does self-publishing mean you’ll be handling the production costs, but you’ll likely have to outsource every service individually.
This means hiring an editor, designer, distributor, and any other creative service your manuscript demands.
Hybrid publishers offer all the experts you need, all in one place.
You pay them to take the production and distribution tasks off of your hands. And the best part is you’ll still have complete control over the creative process—you just have someone else handle the heavy lifting.
Hybrid publishers are a great option for authors who want to ensure the production process is done right but don’t have time to wait around for a traditional publisher or shop for resources to self-publish. It’s convenient and affordable.
5. Marketing Done for You
Remember how I said traditional publishers prefer authors with an audience because they’re easier to market? Most traditional publishers don’t promote your book for you—they target popular authors to give the illusion of marketing.
This is a problem because (especially depending on your genre) book copies are hard to sell in large quantities. Non-fiction books sell about 250 copies on average. In their lifetime.
A solid marketing strategy is important!
Hybrid publishers are committed to getting your book out there. At Best Seller Publishing, we focus on two launch sequences—a soft launch and a hard launch—followed by a seven-step process to guarantee results.
If you don’t hit best sellers in multiple categories, we pay you back in FULL.
We believe in putting our money where our mouth is.
Is Hybrid Publishing Right for You?
Hybrid publishing may be the right choice for you if:
- You’re in a time crunch
- You want full creative control over your manuscript
- You want a higher percentage of the royalties
- You’re looking for a one-stop-shop of expert help
At the end of the day, only you know the best route for your book. I encourage you to do your research, trust your instincts, and use the list above to make the best decision.
And if you’re looking for even more advice on which publishing avenue is best for your goals, check out my Wall Street Journal bestseller, Publish. Promote. Profit., where I reveal how we help hundreds of authors become best sellers.