If you're not sure how you'd like to get your book out into the world, the host of possibilities in the publishing industry from traditional to indie can feel daunting. But today, we welcome Jericho Writers founder Harry Bingham to share insight about hybrid publishing. Read on to see if it might be a good fit for your next book.
Have you been tirelessly searching for the perfect way to give your literary masterpiece the life it deserves? For ages, traditional publishing has been the shining lighthouse of success, while self-publishing has carved a unique trail for those who treasure their autonomy.
But what if I told you there's another path that combines the best of both worlds? Welcome to the realm of hybrid publishing, a model that balances the creative liberty of self-publishing with the professional support of traditional publishing.
What is Hybrid Publishing?
The hybrid publishing model combines elements from two models: traditional publishing and self-publishing.
In the traditional model, writers submit their manuscript to a literary agent, who submits to publishers, and if the manuscript is picked up, the publishing house moves the manuscript through editing, formatting, cover design, all the way through publishing and distribution services.
In many cases, once the manuscript is sold, the writer has far less control over the final product (from content to cover to design), depending on their contract, and they make far less money per book sold.
The self-published author takes on all the responsibility, risk, and reward of those various publishing tasks. In exchange, they have all the control and freedom.
Hybrid publishing pulls from both models, allowing authors to contract out certain publishing services to help them get their stories out into the hands of readers. Let's take look at the pros and cons of the hybrid publishing route to see if it's a good fit for you.
4 Pros of Hybrid Publishing
Hybrid publishing promises the best of both worlds. So, what are the main benefits of this hybrid model?
1: Enhanced Creative Freedom
Traditional publishing often requires authors to sacrifice control over their book's design and, sometimes, content. If you have a unique vision for your work, this can be a hard pill to swallow.
With hybrid publishing, you keep that control. As the author, you work hand-in-hand with the publisher to bring your vision to life. Want a minimalist cover design that mirrors your story's nuances? You've got it. Fancy a unique layout that breaks the mold? No problem.
For example, you wrote about the intersection of technology and philosophy. You envision a cover that merges Greek imagery with digital symbols. In traditional publishing, this could be shot down by the marketing team. However, hybrid publishing lets your vision become a reality, connecting the book's content to its physical form.
2: Professional Support
Tasks like editing, design, marketing, and distribution can be overwhelming if you'd rather focus on writing.
Hybrid publishers offer a range of professional services to enhance your book's quality and reach. Services usually include professional editing, cover and layout design, marketing strategy, and distribution support.
Take editing, for instance. Feedback from professional book editors is priceless and helps to improve your manuscript and writing style. They catch inconsistencies, grammar mistakes, and awkward phrasing that you might miss — which helps transform a good book into a great one.
Similarly, a professional marketing team can help your book reach the right readers. From crafting press releases to organizing book tours or securing a podcast guest spot, their work can significantly improve your book's visibility and sales.
3: Higher Profit Share
In traditional publishing, authors typically earn a royalty rate of about 5–15% of the book's retail price. For new authors, this rate can be even lower. In contrast, hybrid publishing often grants authors a much higher royalty rate, sometimes over 50%.
Let's put this into perspective. Suppose you've written a $20 book. In a traditional publishing scenario, you might pocket $2–3 per copy sold. But with a hybrid publisher, your earnings could soar to $10 or more per book. Multiply this over hundreds or thousands of sales, and the profit difference can be substantial.
However, keep in mind that hybrid publishers usually require an upfront investment from authors to cover professional services like editing, design, and marketing. Despite this initial cost, the increased royalty rate can make hybrid publishing more profitable in the long run, especially for authors confident in their book's potential.
4: Faster Publishing Process
Traditional publishing can be a long journey involving rounds of submissions, rejections, revisions, and a lot of waiting. It's not uncommon for the process to stretch over several years.
In contrast, hybrid publishing can significantly accelerate this timeline. Given that hybrid publishers are typically smaller and more agile than traditional publishing houses, they can often fast-track a book to market in just a few months.
This speedy turnaround is a boon for authors eager to share their work, as well as those writing on timely topics. The quicker you can publish, the better you can capitalize on current events or trends.
For instance, suppose you've penned a book on recent tech innovation. In the traditional publishing world, the buzz might have died down by the time your book is out. But hybrid publishing could get your book into readers' hands while the topic is still hot, enhancing your work's relevance and potential success.
4 Cons of Hybrid Publishing
While hybrid publishing holds many benefits, it's important to weigh the potential downsides before choosing this route.
1: Initial Investment
Unlike traditional publishing, where the publisher bears the financial risk, hybrid publishing often asks authors to foot the bill for professional services such as editing, design, and marketing.
These costs can vary from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the services you need and the hybrid publisher's reputation. This upfront expense can pose a significant barrier, particularly for new or financially constrained authors.
However, it's crucial to consider these costs in the light of potential returns. As discussed earlier, the higher royalty rates from hybrid publishers can yield larger profits over time, especially if your book sells well. It's a gamble, but one that could pay off handsomely.
2: Quality Assurance
While some hybrid publishers maintain high standards and employ skilled professionals, others may fall short on quality.
This inconsistency can raise doubts about the final product's quality, from editing and design to marketing and distribution. A poorly edited book, an unattractive cover, or a weak marketing campaign can undermine your book's success.
To sidestep this issue, it's vital to research thoroughly before settling on a hybrid publisher. Seek out publishers with a proven track record and positive feedback from authors. Request samples of their work and ask about their editing process, design capabilities, and marketing strategies. A trustworthy hybrid publisher should be transparent about these aspects and ready to substantiate their expertise.
3: Credibility and Market Perception
Hybrid publishing is sometimes seen as less prestigious. This stems from the traditional notion that acceptance by a traditional publisher validates an author's work. Because hybrid publishing requires an upfront investment from the author, some critics believe it lacks this gatekeeping function.
However, remember that the publishing landscape is evolving. Increasingly, successful authors are opting for hybrid publishing, changing its perception. The quality of your work and the professionalism of its presentation can counteract any initial skepticism.
One way to boost your reputation is to choose a well-regarded hybrid publisher known for producing high-quality books. Investing in professional editing and design services to ensure a polished, professional book can also help. Lastly, a strategic marketing approach can help position your book favorably in the market, attracting a wide readership.
4: Limited Editorial Feedback
While the greater creative control that comes with hybrid publishing is a key advantage, it can also be a mixed blessing. In traditional publishing, authors often benefit from extensive feedback from seasoned editors, which helps refine the manuscript and enhance the final product.
In hybrid publishing, while professional editing services are usually offered, the extent of editorial feedback can vary. Some authors might miss the thorough editorial process of traditional publishing and the chance to learn from experienced professionals in the industry.
Nevertheless, you can address this potential shortcoming by actively seeking comprehensive feedback during the writing process. You could work with an independent professional editor, participate in a writers' group, or request input from trusted colleagues or mentors.
Is Hybrid Publishing Right for You?
Ultimately, the decision to embark on the hybrid publishing journey should be rooted in a thorough understanding of your goals, the available resources, and the potential risks and rewards. It's all about finding what fits you and your work like a glove.
Remember, the publishing model you choose is just one piece of your authorial journey puzzle. Regardless of the path you tread — traditional, self, or hybrid publishing — the most vital thing is to keep writing, refining your craft, and sharing your unique voice with the world.
What questions or experiences do you have with hybrid publishing? Ask us in the comments.
Write a press release for your newly published book through a hybrid publisher, addressing potential skepticism about the credibility of hybrid publishing. How do you position your book and yourself as an author to overcome this perception? Write for fifteen minutes. When you're finished, post your practice in the Pro Practice Workshop and leave feedback for three other writers.