Publishers are not all the same. And that’s true of hybrid publishers as well. If you are an author looking to be published, then it’s important to know what you are looking for, and not looking for. Hybrid publishers have different strengths, different weaknesses and different goals. Even when they look rather similar, each has something a little different to offer the author.
Today I’d like to talk about the three main types of hybrid publishing companies, as well as some questions that you should ask a hybrid publisher if you are considering this route to publishing your book.
In this model, authors must secure the backing of readers before the publishing project can be greenlighted. The author crowdfunds the project, advertising the intended book title and content on the publisher’s website and elsewhere, with the goal of reaching the minimum readership threshold in the form of book pre-orders. In the crowdfunding-based model, there is always the chance that the book project won’t meet the threshold and will not be produced.
However, once the minimum is met, the publisher bears the costs of production and distribution, and publishes the book. The publisher sells and distributes the book to those who had pre-ordered the title, as well as makes the title available for further sales through other channels.
Crowdfunding-based publishing might be a good option for authors who don’t want to commit their own money to the project and/or for those who would like to test whether there is a viable market for their book, or if they have the marketing chops needed to market their book.
In this model, authors pay the company to have their book published. This may include editing, formatting, printing and marketing costs. The company accepts all types of authors and book manuscripts, or else provides very minimal vetting of book quality. The risk of publishing is borne 100% by the author and the company has no vested interest in the success of the book. It’s a short-term arrangement. After publication, the publisher has no further commitment to the author or the book. In the past, assisted self-publishing was more commonly called vanity publishing.
Assisted self-publishing might be a good option for authors who are essentially looking for a printer to produce limited copies of a personal book.
This type of hybrid publishing more closely resembles a traditional publishing arrangement. In this model, authors find a partner in a publishing company. Authors submit their ideas or work for consideration to the publisher. If the publisher believes that the work or idea is a good fit for the company and is of a sufficiently high standard, then the publisher will offer the author an author agreement. Authors finance most of the book’s production costs but receive a high royalty on each copy sold — 50% or more of net is not uncommon. The publisher produces and distributes the book to multiple channels. Most importantly, the publisher and author both share in the marketing efforts and have a stake in making the work a success. This arrangement is typically a long-term one with the goal of actively selling book copies for years to come.
Editorial-based publishing might be a good option for authors who feel reasonably confident that their book’s message will resonate with others, are looking for a more traditional publishing experience and are prepared to put in the effort to market their work for at least a couple of years.
Questions to Ask a Hybrid Publisher
If you’d like to be published and are evaluating the different hybrid publisher options, here are some questions that I recommend asking the publisher:
- What kinds of books does your publishing company publish? Who is your reading audience?
- What kinds of authors do you look for?
- What do you look for in a manuscript, book idea or author?
- What is your business model? How does your publishing company make money?
- For each title that you publish, what is the responsibility of your authors, and what is the responsibility of your publishing company?
- What kind of marketing do you provide? What kind of marketing do you expect authors to do?
- What is your fee structure? How much does each service cost, and is it optional or mandatory?
- How much are your royalties?
- Where do you distribute your books?
- Are your book titles available in print and in digital formats?
- Where are your paperback titles available?
Whatever path you decide to follow, make sure that the publishing company you settle on answers the questions to your satisfaction and is a good fit for both you and your book.
Dudley Court Press
Dudley Court Press works with writers like you every day. As a full-service, hybrid publishing house, we help thoughtful people write their books and become successful published authors.