3 Things You Should Know About Hybrid Publishing

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Hybrid publishing remains a somewhat mysterious publishing model — an in-between solution posed as an alternative to self and traditional publishing, with similarities to both.

In theory, this is how hybrid publishing should work: first of all, you split production costs with your publisher — so there's no trad-pub-style advance payment, or the financial risk involved in a down payment for everything you'll need as an indie author. They then rely on their in-house team to help you edit your book, produce a great book cover design, print a quality product, distribute to brick-and-mortar bookstores and online, and promote your book as widely as possible. In this ideal theoretical model, your publisher takes a cut from your royalties to compensate for all their hard work — a smaller percentage than a traditional publisher would. Both parties are happy, and you release a beautiful, professional book into the world.

That's what should be happening with all hybrids. Sadly, the reality is a little different, so I want to clarify three important things if you're considering working with a hybrid publisher:

1. Royalties from hybrids sit between self and traditional publishing

Generally speaking, traditional publishing offers authors 25% royalties on ebooks — compared to 50% for hybrids. That may sound like a good deal, until you consider that self-publishing authors can rake in up to 70% royalties. Firmly situated between the two models, hybrid may sound like the best of both worlds, but it usually means sacrificing earnings you could have expected from self-publishing and the assistance and expertise of a traditional publisher, opting instead for a lukewarm offer between the two.

Numbers are important, but they aren't necessarily the factor that should determine your decision. Instead, you should dig deeper into the hybrid publisher's publication record.

2. Not all hybrid publishers are equal

Some hybrid publishers are reputable, professional companies who live up to the standards they promise. Unfortunately, most are not like that. Many are essentially vanity presses reaching out to as many authors as possible, and offering them publication by claiming they love their work in hopes of getting paid. These suspicious types typically charge upfront for the entire cost of editing, production, etc., without investing in your work at all. What's worse, they might not have experienced editors or cover designers in their team, meaning that you not only pay upfront, you also get suboptimal editorial standards.

If you're going to work with a hybrid publisher, take a good look at their other titles and ask yourself (and friends and family!) if they look like the books you see in bookshelves.

3. Their marketing abilities can make all the difference

In addition to examining what they've published, also check how well the books performed, and how many readers they have reached. Have you heard of any of their authors? How many reviews do these books have on Goodreads or Amazon? Were they published in reputable media?

Does the hybrid publisher you're considering use social media? Do they do anything to promote their titles? If you go to a brick and mortar bookshop and ask for one of their books, is it something they stock or are able to order in?

The answers to these questions can tell you how they'll treat your book, too. If you have a way to do so, consider contacting one of their existing author clients and ask them about their experience.

Whatever you decide, make sure to do your research and ask as many questions as you need before signing anything. Good luck!


Rose Atkinson-Carter is a writer with Reedsy, advising authors on all things publishing, from finding a literary agent to crafting successful query letters. She has previously written for the Darling Axe, Inkers Con, and more. She lives in London.