The Perks and Risks of Hybrid Publishing

There are so many choices that come with being an author, with one of the most important being which route you’ll take in publishing.

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If you go the traditional publishing route, you can save time on marketing your book since you’ll have a team to help you out. But the downside is you may end up using said saved time breaking through the barrier of entry to find a publisher in the first place, not to mention some loss of creative control and potentially less returns on each book sale.

When you self-publish, you can save a bit of money and enjoy all the creative freedom you please, from start to finish. But self-publishing does take more elbow grease, as you’ll be 100% in charge of book sales.

You might think the last thing you need right now is yet another option to mull over. But what if we told you there’s an “in-between” option where you can enjoy the perks of both traditional and self-publishing?

Enter: Hybrid publishing.

What is Hybrid Publishing?

Hybrid or third-party publishing combines aspects of both self-publishing and traditional publishing by providing similar support as a traditional publisher, with many of the freedoms of self-publishing.

Much like traditional publishers, many hybrid publishers have valuable professionals in the editorial, marketing, and design departments. Most hybrid publishers can be broken down into about 3 main categories:

  1. Assisted Self-Publishing: Smaller traditional publisher that offers assisted self-publishing services, or a system in which authors pay to publish. All types of authors are accepted.
  2. Editorially Curated: A publishing company that carefully curates which types of authors they accept, therefore establishing an (oftentimes successful) marketing niche.
  3. Crowdfunding: Authors are required to raise a certain amount of money from their audience before being given a deal and going through something close to the traditional publishing process.

Getting tempted, but a little worried about the ‘newness’ of it all? Don’t worry, it’s far from uncharted territory.

More and more authors are taking the hybrid publishing route, including established authors who have already taken the traditional publishing route who want to use their new expertise while regaining creative control.

Benefits of Hybrid Publishing

We’ve already established that hybrid publishing gives you the support of professionals along with the freedom to take your book in the direction you want. But what exactly does a hybrid publisher help self-published authors do?

Skipping the middle man

Traditional publishers typically require an author to first hire a literary agent to do the submissions process. After that, it can still be hard to be accepted unless you have a bit of celebrity status or a whole lot of publishing success in the past.

Hybrid publishers allow you to skip the agent hiring process and accept authors based on the work itself and the authors expertise as it stands.

Being on a team

Being an author can be a lonely process — especially when taking the self-publishing route, where you’re responsible for everything from your digital marketing strategy to formatting and uploading your eBook to handling consignment and more. It can be a real whirlwind.

With a hybrid publisher on board, you’ll have a team to help with all the little pieces. You can save yourself hours of Googling, watching YouTube videos, and maybe even some tears by having one go-to support resource that cares about your success.

Enjoying author autonomy

While you’ll have professional marketing support, that doesn’t mean all the choices will be made for you. In hybrid publishing, the way your book looks and is presented to the world is up to you.

Higher royalties

Once money starts to trickle in from book sales, traditional publishers can offer you as low as 5% of the royalties from your book. Hybrid publishers, however, can offer up to 50% or more.

You keep the rights

Unlike with traditional publishers, most hybrid publishers allow you to walk away with your work, so you can use it wherever and however you please in the future.

Risks of Hybrid Publishing

Everything comes with risks, and hybrid publishing is no exception. Being aware of them can help you avoid them.

Vanity press

Be aware of vanity publishers. Vanity publishers publish anyone who can pay, and once the book is printed you’re on your own. These companies make their money solely off the authors themselves, and have no stakes in whether your books sell or not.

Higher upfront cost

Hybrid publishers tend to charge an upfront fee for all services, compared to a traditional publisher who would oftentimes front you royalties. Initially, your financial risks can be a bit higher.

Time risks

While you will have support in many departments, a lot of the action items will be up to you. Know this before going into hybrid publishing to save yourself some disappointment. And be sure to schedule in time to do some of the more tedious stuff like posting on social media or updating your author site.

One final downside of hybrid publishing is that you’ll be subsidizing the publishing without the typical royalty advance. But that money buys you the ability to have more say over the creative process and learn some things along the way, too.

If you’re looking for a good middle ground between traditional publishing and self-publishing, hybrid publishing may be your new best friend. Evaluate your needs, the pros and cons, and feel good knowing you’re taking the publishing route that’s right for you.

You’ll be surprised how relieved you are after finding a hybrid publisher who’s rooting for your success. And how nice it will be to have your head clear so you can tackle the other tasks to help you connect with a fan base.

Now that you’re planning your big moves, why not make a plan to get those books on shelves »

Adam user

President & CEO,
Steuben Press

Adam Ellis has worked in the book industry since 2002, when he was first exposed to the wonderful world of Self Publishing. Over the years he has worked with thousands of authors and helped to produce, print and publish countless books.

Flight cover

After a disappointing proof of my labor-intensive and much loved manuscript from another printer, I decided to try Steuben Press. Based on recommendations from many of my publishing team who are all members of the Colorado Independent Publishers Association (CIPA), I submitted my book to Adam and his staff.

Their proof was perfect! The illustrations were crisp, the print clear, and the construction high quality. But the cover! Absolutely beautiful and softly glossed, Steuben's production added depth to the colors and popped the fine design by my cover artist. My book shimmers on the shelf!

Now I sell only Steuben's copies by hand and feel confident that my readers are receiving the best product reflecting my years of effort and passion for my subject.

– Sunny Weber, Denver, CO