Hybrid Publishing can be quite an enigma. That’s because there wasn’t really a universal definition up until three years ago. In 2018, the IBPA Advocacy Committee couldn’t identify the differences between a self-publishing service provider and a hybrid publisher, and so they developed nine hybrid publishing standards to give a definitive definition.
Now there are three main publishing models authors have to consider: traditional publishing, self-publishing, and hybrid publishing (you can learn more about each model by visiting our blog post on Amplify Publishing, an imprint of Mascot Books).
In this blog post, we’re shining a spotlight on hybrid publishing to clear up the rumors and tell you why it’s a good fit for some authors.
What is Hybrid Publishing?
A hybrid publisher has qualities from both traditional publishers and self-publishing. Usually, like at Mascot, they provide a wide range of services, such as editing, design, distribution, and marketing. A true hybrid publisher maintains the highest industry and ethical standards and produces books that are on par with traditional houses.
Hybrid publishers have a selection process for content, provide access to meaningful distribution channels, and offer book marketing services. In other words, there’s a commitment to creating high-quality books and an emphasis on helping get those books into readers’ hands through distribution and marketing. Some of the reasons why authors typically choose hybrid publishing models are the speed-to-market (the average timeline is about half that of traditional—sometimes even less), creative control, and ownership of all intellectual property rights.
As Lorelei Brush, author of Chasing the American Dream, said in the book blog “The Bookish Affair”, “[The] hybrid publishing business is everything an author could ask for: a process ensuring quality carried out by responsive individuals in a timely manner.”
However, unlike with traditional publishing, the hybrid model does come with production-related costs and the financial investment falls largely on the author. To make up for these upfront expenses, the author receives a much higher royalty rate than traditionally published authors. At Mascot, we pay our authors 85 percent of sales and provide distribution and marketing services designed to maximize visibility and sales potential.
The Growth of Nontraditional Publishing
Ever since the early 2000s, the traditional publishing model has had to make room for other kinds of publishers. As our CEO Naren Aryal said in his RealClear Politics op-ed, this was largely because Amazon rocked the publishing world by showing that you don’t need to follow the traditional rules (and deal with literary agents and bookstore buyers) to get legitimately published. “Now anyone can upload a PDF to their CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing services and create a sellable book,” he said.
Once Amazon and other online booksellers gave authors this opportunity, people started going crazy for these self-published books (read some of these success stories here). Since the traditional route has many barriers and a lot of competition, this new avenue gave authors the chance to succeed. Hybrid publishing also came in and said, “Believe in yourself and your book. We will give you the professional tools to make your book the best it can be!” Finally, first-time authors were able to bet on themselves.
Is Hybrid Publishing Right for you?
“If you are someone who likes being in charge, who might balk at an editor’s suggestions of major changes to your manuscript, you might seriously consider the hybrid option… Following the path of Hybrid Publishing does ensure you have a great deal of control, and your book is published in months rather than years,” Lorelei said.
Hybrid publishing allows you to choose what you want to spend your money on, but it also requires some financial commitment. How much of your book would you like to retain ownership of? What royalty rates fit your needs? When do you want your book to be published? Every publishing model has its pros and cons, and all authors have to evaluate what they want and need out of their book.
“With traditional publishing, the benefit is the name recognition and wide distribution, as well as the ability to get mainstream media attention. The downside is that they publish thousands of books in every genre, so your books get a hot minute of attention unless it’s instantly a hit,” Laura Preble, the Mascot author of Anna Incognito, said.
Laura has published a book with every model, from self-publishing to traditional publishing at Penguin Random House to hybrid publishing with us.
“With hybrid publishing, you lose some of the clout of the name publishers, but you gain things too: you retain rights to your work, you have control of the decision-making process, you still get great editorial assistance, and you reap bigger royalties,” she said. “If you don’t have the money to invest in your work, it’s not a great solution, but if you do, it gives you a much greater sense of control and artistic freedom.”
The beauty of the modern-day publishing industry is that you have choices, a lot of them. Write down your goals, desires, and needs, and stay up until 2 a.m. researching your options if you have to. Take the time to find the right fit because it’s all worth it when you get to see your book out there in the world.