You’ve decided to write a book. Or you’ve already written one. Either way, congratulations! Now what?

You have three options if you’d like to see your book published and share it with the world: traditional publishing, self-publishing and hybrid publishing. Most likely you’ve heard about self-publishing, but what the heck is hybrid publishing?

Hybrid Publishing 101

Hybrid publishing is a publishing model that has evolved to offer more options and more benefits to the author and the publisher.

Think of hybrid publishing like an ice cream sandwich. It comes from blending two distinct elements (in this case traditional publishing and self-publishing) to make something delicious and new.

Hybrid publishing adopts the best qualities from traditional publishing and self-publishing, but also remedies the shortcomings found in these two models. How? Let’s look at what happens in typical traditional publishing and hybrid publishing scenarios, and what that means for the author.

The Differences Between a Traditional Publisher and a Hybrid Publisher

Traditional publishing works very well, but not usually for new authors or authors whose books are not destined for bookstore shelves.

Traditional publishers act like gatekeepers. Authors looking to have a book published with a traditional publisher should first secure representation with a book agent; otherwise, most editors won’t even look at your book proposal. Once you have an agent who is good at his or her job and gets your book into the hands of a reputable traditional publisher, it still isn’t smooth sailing from there.

Your book is up against fierce competition for an ever-shrinking number of opportunities available for new authors. Let’s be frank. Traditional publishers invest their time and money in a book when they publish it. To make sure that they recoup their investment, traditional publishers prefer to concentrate their efforts on a relatively small number of books from authors who have already proven that they can sell books in large volumes.

However, let’s say you beat the odds and land a coveted traditional publishing contract. “Happy days from here on out!” you’d think. But that’s not quite the whole picture.

Traditionally, the bargain was that the writer would do the writing and the publisher would produce the book, distribute it and do the marketing. While traditional publishers still maintain control over the publishing process, distribute the book to the sales channels of their choice and undertake marketing activities on behalf of the book, these days traditional publishers are expecting authors to share more and more of the marketing duties.

And unfortunately, more work for the author doesn’t translate into more money; the publisher still keeps most of the money. A book advance from a traditional publisher, when there is one, is typically small, but the royalties – paid after the advance is earned out – are even often skimpy. Authors usually receive nickels and dimes for each book sold.

Hybrid publishers, on the other hand, act more like partners, which is why hybrid publishing is sometimes called partnership publishing or contemporary publishing. Here, both the risks and the rewards are more evenly distributed among the publisher and the author. Let’s take a look at this in more detail.

In hybrid publishing, an author doesn’t need an agent, but he or she still needs a solid book idea. Good hybrid publishers uphold professional standards and vet the idea and/or manuscript directly from the author.

An author writes the book, pays for some or all of the book production costs and participates in marketing activities. Like a traditional publisher, the hybrid publisher also professionally produces the book, distributes it to multiple points of sale and undertakes marketing activities on behalf of the book. However, this type of bargain translates into more money for the author after publication.

Imagine earning 50% every time a book is sold instead of the 5-10% many traditional publishers offer their authors. In hybrid publishing, the author keeps the lion’s share of the book’s royalties because the publisher’s upfront costs are reduced.

Like traditional publishers though, hybrid publishers aren’t all the same. They each have different strengths and interests, and provide authors varying advantages.

What to Look for in a Hybrid Publisher

The right publisher is where the author and his or her book feel most at home.

When considering a hybrid publisher to approach with your book project, here are six questions that I recommend you keep in mind.

1. What is the publisher’s vision? Does it match the goals for your book? After all, a publisher who focuses on young adult fiction won’t be the right place for a book on golf.

2. Is this a professional publisher? Look at some of the other books in the publisher’s catalogue. Are these books well edited and well designed, both inside and out? Note that there are no licensing requirements to be a publisher. It’s experience and commitment to quality and industry standards that identify a professional publisher.

3. What is the vetting process? Does this publisher have a set of editorial review standards, or will they publish anything that comes in the door?

4. What kind of editorial guidance is provided? A true publishing partner not only recognizes your book’s potential but helps you shape it for success in the market.

5. How involved will the publisher be? What will the publisher do to ensure that the book is as big a success as possible?

6. Where does the publisher sell books? A good hybrid publisher has solid relationships and sells their books in a range of sales channels.

As both an author and a publisher, I know just how important finding a comfortable home for your book can be. That’s why I created Dudley Court Press.

Today, Dudley Court Press is a contemporary hybrid publisher that focuses on publishing meaningful books from authors who have significant personal experience or professional expertise in the subject of their book.

Two of our most popular books include Live Pain-free Without Drugs or Surgery, a book of pain-relief exercises, from Neuromuscular Therapist Lee Albert and Mountain Majesty: The History Of CODEP Haiti – Where Sustainable Agricultural Development Works, Volume I, an account of sustainable development and organizational management, from the former Executive Director of Haiti Fund, Inc., John Winings.

If you have questions about hybrid publishing or your own publishing options, I’d be happy to help.