The information you need to navigate hybrid publishing.

The publishing world is a vast space inhabited by many different books, authors and publishing enterprises. And for the writer, it offers several types of publishing options.

In traditional publishing, the author writes the book while the publisher is in charge of producing and marketing the book and bearing the costs. At the other end of the spectrum, in self-publishing, it is the author who does everything: he or she writes, produces and markets the book as well as bears the costs.

Hybrid publishing, on the other hand, is designed more like a partnership to combine the best of both worlds for author and publisher. The author writes the book and shares some of the costs while the publisher produces and markets the book and also shares some of the costs. This is in contrast to a vanity press where the author writes the book and bears all of the costs; the vanity press simply produces the book.

However, as hybrid publishing has become more common and more recognized as a legitimate path for authors and publishers in today’s world, a few vanity presses have begun cloaking themselves in the term. This has resulted in some confusion over what hybrid publishing really is and what hybrid publishers actually do.

As a result, the Independent Book Publishers Association has created a series of nine criteria that define a true hybrid publisher.

Here we’ll take a closer look at how hybrid publishers should operate, according to these industry pros.

#1. Define and Follow a Vision and a Mission

A hybrid publisher knows exactly who they are, what they do and who they serve with their books. They have a cohesive vision and mission for their publishing program. A few examples include: books that help readers “do good” in the world, books for children, romantic fiction and architecture-themed books.

#2. Selectively Screen Submissions

Vanity presses will publish a book from any author proffering a check. Hybrid publishers, however, are more selective in what book projects they choose to partner on. Hybrid publishers only publish book manuscripts that fit in with the company’s mission and meet their established quality standards.

#3. Distribute Books Under a Publisher’s Own Imprint and ISBNs

A hybrid publisher develops and distributes books as an independent publishing house. Books are published under the publisher’s own imprint and assigned their own ISBNs.

#4. Apply Industry Standards

Books published by a hybrid publisher are published to the same technical standard as traditionally published books. This includes the following minimum elements: front cover, book spine, title page, copyright page, content copyediting, About the Author page and back cover. Let’s briefly review what these elements should incorporate.

A front cover lists the title of the book, the subtitle and the name of the author. The colors used on the cover should work just as well for a print book as for an ebook. A book spine includes the title, the name of the author and the publisher’s name or logo. A title page contains the title and the subtitle of the book, the name of the author, the name of the publisher and the publishing location. A copyright page includes the copyright date, the copyright holder, the copyright notice, the edition of the book, LCCN or Library of Congress CIP Data if appropriate, the name of the publisher, the publisher’s contact information, the name of the author, the title of the book and the book’s ISBN number.

Content copy editing ensures that the book’s content is unified according to a previously selected style guide and does not contain grammatical errors or typos. An About the Author page includes a short biography of the author and the author’s credentials for writing the book. A back cover contains the book’s chosen BISAC subject heading, the title’s ISBN number, the EAN bar code that includes the ISBN, real blurbs or endorsements, and the publisher’s name and logo.

#5. Produce Professional Books

A hybrid publisher ensures that it produces professional-grade books. Engaging designers and editors, a hybrid publisher ensures that all the titles they publish look professional inside and out, and read flawlessly.

#6. Define and Manage Publishing Rights

A hybrid publisher defines, pursues and manages different publishing rights for each title they publish. The most common is the right to publish in both print and ebook formats. However, a hybrid publisher may also pursue and manage other publishing rights, such as foreign-language rights and audio book rights.

#7. Actively Distribute Books

Hybrid publishers are active in the distribution and marketing of the book titles they publish. They choose appropriate sales distribution channels and make books available for sale through those channels, but most importantly, they create marketing and sales strategies and market the book, usually with the active participation of the author.

#8. Sell a Respectable Number of Books

Vanity presses don’t actually care about the number of copies a book ends up selling. Hybrid publishers, on the other hand, are in the business to sell books. Every hybrid publisher should have a strong record of selling books. The exact number, however, will vary from niche to niche.

#9. Offer Above-Standard Royalties

Traditional publishers bear all the costs of publishing and thus typically offer author royalties ranging from only 5% to 15% for print books and up to 25% for ebooks. Hybrid publishers, on the other hand, share the costs of publishing with the authors and thus offer higher author royalties – often up to 50% or more for print and ebooks alike.

Are you interested in Self-Publishing your book? Let Dudley Court Press help you through our Assisted Self-Publishing Program.

Writers have choices these days. If you’d like to explore some of the publishing options for your upcoming book, please get in touch at Or check out our newest online coaching programs: Writer’s Sprint, Memoir Writing Made Easy and Aspiring Author to Published Pro.