From Nathan Bransford:
In the last twenty years there has been an explosion of new publishing models that take advantage of new opportunities afforded by the internet and advances in printing on demand. There’s also been a corresponding rise in scams. So what is “hybrid publishing” and how does it fit into all of this?
Hybrid publishing isn’t quite traditional publishing and it isn’t quite self-publishing. Essentially: A hybrid publisher takes on some or all of the functions of a traditional publisher, but the author shares in more of both the initial investment (in the form of fees) as well as the upside (in the form of higher royalties).
It’s tough to generalize about hybrid publishing because there are so many different models with so many differing levels of legitimacy. Many scam artists out there have taken advantage of the hype around hybrid publishing in order to put a glossy spin on exploitive practices.
One more reason for confusion around hybrid publishing is that a “hybrid author” is a totally separate term. This usually refers to an author who has been both traditionally published and self-published (such as yours truly), not necessarily someone who has published a book with a hybrid publisher.
Hybrid publishing is still viewed with quite a bit of skepticism in some corners of the publishing world, with some still viewing it as little more than vanity publishing by another name. But as publishing continues to evolve away from the virtual monopoly of traditional publishing, expect to see new upstarts continue to pop up in this zone.
. . . .
One helpful way to think about the book publishing process is as a collection of services, such as editing, design, and distribution. In traditional publishing, the publisher handles all of the services and pays the author an advance on top of that. In self-publishing, the author handles (or outsources) all of the services but receives more money per copy sold.
In hybrid publishing, the hybrid publisher usually manages these services, including distribution, but the author shares in the cost of production and an initial print run in exchange for royalties that are higher than traditional publishing but less than self-publishing.
In theory, hybrid publishers offer value by managing these tasks for the author, and some offer better design and print distribution than a self-published author would be able to achieve on their own.
Some hybrid publishers are selective in the authors they choose to take on, others are more like assisted publishing models that will take on all comers.
. . . .
There are really two types of authors who should consider hybrid publishing:
- Authors with cash who are looking for a bit more upside than regular self-publishing.
- Authors with cash who don’t want to manage the publishing process on their own.
Notice the “with cash” part? Yeah. If you don’t have cash to burn there are more economical ways of getting your book out there. Traditional publishers will pay you to publish your book, and self-publishing tends to cost less than hybrid publishing, especially if you handle some of the tasks on your own.
Some authors might appreciate having the publishing process managed for them and are willing to pay to not have to get into the self-published weeds. Or you might come across a hybrid publisher who genuinely seems to offer a value add with their design or distribution.
. . . .
At worst, a hybrid publisher is really just a vanity press or scam artist in disguise, taking advantage of the buzz around hybrid publishing and exploiting your ego to charge you top dollar for things you don’t need.
. . . .
- Know what you’re signing. What rights are you handing over? What costs are you committing to? How can you get out of the arrangement if things go south? Be absolutely sure of what you’re getting into before you commit.
- Be very skeptical of agents and publishers who use a bait and switch that steers you to their self-publishing arm. Many publishers, including some of the major ones, use extremely scuzzy services that are at best extractive of your cash and at worst wholly exploitive. Some reputable agencies have established legitimate hybrid publishing enterprises, but unless you’re already a pre-existing client, be very skeptical.
Link to the rest at Nathan Bransford
PG will second the warning about scam artists contained in the OP.
At this point in the self-publishing revolution, there are quality cover artists who are happy to work with indie authors for an appropriate fee. There are quality editors who are willing to work with indie authors for an appropriate fee.
Book formatting for most fiction books and many non-fiction books has become much easier to do on your own with Amazon’s Self-Publishing Resources, including Kindle Create. However, it’s not difficult to find a professional book formatting artist who will work with indie authors for an appropriate fee.
If you want help, email and online marketing service specialists are not difficult to find . . . online!.
PG thinks in all but very unusual cases, the author should be the boss and everyone else should be a contractor, providing a particular service. The author needs to be in the position to advance fees to the various specialists, but that relationship puts the author in control. If money is very tight, friends, acquaintances, high school or college art students looking for opportunities to build artistic résumés, etc., are possibilities.
The author is the one who publishes the book and receives all sales proceeds directly from Amazon, Nook, Kobo, etc. If accounting or business management help is needed, the author can send copies of royalty reports to those specialists providing assistance.