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Why Authors Are Turning to the Hybrid Publishing Alternative

Following is a reprinted article by David Thalberg from Bookstr.com about hybrid publishing

Why Authors Are Turning to the Hybrid Publishing Alternative

Why Authors Are Turning to the Hybrid Publishing AlternativeHybrid: /hīˌbrid/ Defined by Google as: “a thing made by combining two different elements; a mixture.” That’s the second definition. The first is: “the offspring of two plants or animals of different species or varieties, such as a mule (a hybrid of a donkey and a horse).” For the purpose of this article, we will stick with the first definition!

There has always been “self-publishing.” As an 8 year-old child, sitting at my kitchen table with a Smith-Corona typewriter (some of you remember – the one with black and red ink), I wrote great stories. Imaginative. Science Fiction. This was “YA” before “YA” was a thing. I gathered them together, and voila, I was published – for my entire family to read. Forty-plus years later, my children can write similar stories, and with the press of a couple of buttons on a keyboard, their stories can be read by an international audience. Voila. Self-publishing.

The likelihood of my or my kids’ stories being picked up by a “traditional” or “Big 5” publisher is highly unlikely. Within the last few years, though, a new type of publisher has established a foothold in the publishing community: the “Hybrid Publisher” opening new doors for true and honest book publication and distribution.

Hybrid publishers “combine aspects of traditional publishing and self-publishing,” states Karen Strauss, Executive Vice-President of Union Square Publishing – a hybrid press. The comparisons start early: “Traditional publishers pay advances, but they own the rights to your book and pay (authors) a much smaller royalty than Hybrid publishers do,” she continued. Hybrids may pay smaller royalties, but you get “to keep the rights to your own book,” which may become quite valuable down the road.

As might be expected, there are many different business models for Hybrid publishers. When choosing a hybrid publisher, authors need “to look under the hood and see what are the things they bring to the table,” offers Brooke Warner, publisher of She Writes Press and SparkPress. “Some Hybrid models make a lot of sense, but many just look like ‘assisted self-publishing.’”

Union Square’s Strauss suggests asking key questions of a potential publishing partner: Do I own all the rights to my book? What is the royalty rate? (Can vary from 20-70%), Will you receive free author copies? What is the author price? What is the term of the contract and can you get out of it easily? What marketing services are offered?

And what about traditional bookstore placement? Today, many self-published books are only available online as print-on-demand. “That’s a problem for self-published authors,” opines Warner. “When bookstores go to order their book, if it’s strictly POD it shows ‘Zero Inventory’ and (they) will be hesitant to order.” Warner states that She Writes Press and SparkPress “never” have “Zero Inventory” due to their relationship with Ingram Publisher Services, a the leading book distributor. Only a small number of hybrid publishers have distribution deals with Ingram Publisher Services, including the above-mentioned Union Square Publishing.

As a self-published author, you have total control over your publishing process. But as Jeremy Soldevilla, publisher of Christopher Matthews Publishing offers, “ Almost anyone can build their own house, but without the skills, experience, tools and knowledge of building codes of a professional contractor, they are not going to be happy with the results.”

In other words, you want to surround yourself with the best people – the ones that will fully support your content so that you will receive maximum awareness… and sales. A new Hybrid publisher with the quirky name, We Heard You Like Books understood this concept. When WHYLB’s publisher, Jarett Kobek was releasing the book he authored, I Hate The Internet: A Useful Novel Against Men, Money and the Filth of Instagram, the first title from the imprint, he hired an outside publishing consultant, Leah Paulos: “We knew that, first-off, we had to make sure this wasn’t considered a self-published book. For better or worse, most (media) won’t consider anything without an established imprint behind it. We had to find a way to get people to pay attention.” Digging deep into all of their joint contacts, they were able to secure a blurb from noted author Jonathan Lethem “which we used at the opening of every pitch.” With that as a lede and some intense pitching, press attention came with pieces in Salon, the Literary Hub and others, leading to a coveted review on the front page of the New York Times Art section.

Sometimes all the pieces just fall into the right places – especially when you have a strong team behind you.

Final advantage of a Hybrid versus a Traditional publisher: Soldevilla says that “generally, hybrids give an author deeper and more personal attention than traditional houses. If a book is lucky enough to (gain national in-store distribution) but doesn’t initially perform well… (a) traditional publisher… will likely put it out of print within a year. Hybrids will stick by a book indefinitely.”

To sum up: If you are considering taking the Hybrid publishing route, note that you as an author still need to be an active participant in the process. YOU still need to promote. YOU still need a website. YOU still need social media. YOU still need to reach out to your community of “evangelists”. You need to be a strong partner with your publisher.

David Thalberg is founder of BrandStand, an affiliate of Stryker-Munley Group. A book publicist with more than 25 years experience, he is a frequent instructor at publishing and writers retreats and has a regular publishing column, Writing from the BrandStand on Bookstr.com. He can be reached at dthalberg@brandstandpr.com or http://brandstandpr.com.

What Do I Do After Tate Publishing’s Closing? A Self-Publishing Caveat

If you are one of the authors who was affected by the shutdown of Tate Publishing in January or are one of the many authors disappointed by having published their book with a self-publishing company, I feel your pain. Over the past several years, writers have been led to believe that self-publishing was the answer to their prayers of seeing their book in print. If you give your manuscript to a self-publisher, they will indeed provide you with a printed copy of your book and a fat bill for doing so, but you may learn that you’ve shortchanged yourself and your book.

What self-publishing companies neglect to tell you is that bookstores and libraries do not purchase self-published books, and also that they will price your books much more than the market will bear because their revenues come from the books they sell back to you. They don’t sell to bookstores, so they don’t care. Generally, they do little or no editing of your manuscript, unless they offer an expensive editing package, and the covers they provide are often templates or covers that you create yourself, which invariably telegraph to potential readers that your book is self-published and likely not well-produced.

If you made the decision to go with Tate or any of the other giant self-publishing companies you likely did so because you had been rejected by traditional publishing houses, but you had faith in and a love for the manuscript you had toiled so hard on and you had the writer’s dream.

It has always been difficult to land a contract with a traditional publisher. It does not mean that your manuscript is not good. Traditional publishers are very risk-averse. They need to be convinced that they can sell several thousand copies of a book before they take it on. As a result, thousands of very good manuscripts are turned down by them.

Disappointed writers turned to the panacea of self-publishing. Some of those writers were perfectly happy with the results of that decision. And that’s certainly an option.

However, within the past 5 years, a professional alternative to self-publishing has emerged in the form of hybrid publishers. Hybrids function much like a traditional publisher in that they provide professional editing; interior formatting; market friendly, attractive cover designs; worldwide distribution to bookstores and libraries and supportive personal attention that the big self-publishers don’t.

Unlike self-publishers, they don’t accept every manuscript sent to them regardless of quality. Just like a traditional publisher, a hybrid vets every manuscript submitted to them, and some will get accepted while others don’t make the cut. But a hybrid, unlike a traditional publisher, is more likely to take a chance on a new, untested writer’s work if they see that spark of talent and creativity that merits being given a chance.

One advantage hybrid publishers have over traditional publishers is that because they have smaller lists, they usually offer more personal attention to new authors than a traditional publisher can.

If you have been rejected by traditional publishers, before you turn to self-publishing, consider submitting your work to a hybrid publisher. Educate yourself about the differences and do due diligence on companies you might be considering.

If you are currently being published by a self-publisher or are a former Tate author and are disappointed with your present arrangement, you may want to consider contacting a hybrid publisher to discuss your options.

For more on hybrid publishing, read David Thalberg’s Bookstr.com article on Why Authors Are Turning to the Hybrid Publishing Alternative.