What is a Hybrid Publisher? 3 Advantages to Using a Hybrid Publisher
I recently had a coaching call and the topic of hybrid publishers came up. The group wanted to know if hybrid publishing was the better option or how if it would benefit them more than Print-On-Demand options. The topic of hybrid publishing also comes up in my classes and workshops. What is a hybrid publisher? How are they different from print on demand? Is it like traditional publishing?
I self-published my first picture book using Amazon KDP for eBooks and paperback distribution, along with IngramSpark for hardcovers and retail distribution. The next two picture book projects I illustrated were printed by hybrid publishers. I understand more or less from personal experience what it is like to work with hybrid publishers and what the advantages are.
In this article, I hope to clarify and demystify any confusion surrounding hybrid publishing and its differences from traditional and self-publishing.
Related Article: WHY I CHOSE TO SELF-PUBLISH MY FIRST PICTURE BOOK
What is Hybrid Publishing?
Publishing is simply sharing your book with readers. The important question is HOW to share it with readers. There is only one difference between traditional publishing and self-publishing - the business model. In traditional publishing authors are paid for the right to publish their work; this means that the publisher is assuming any financial risk of publishing that work. What kind of financial risks are we talking about? The costs of cover design, jacket/sales copy, professional editor, printing costs, distribution costs, etc. In the event that the book does not sell many copies, it would be a financial loss for the publisher but not for the author - which happens more often than is spoken about in the industry.
With self-publishing the author pays to publish their work, meaning the author assumes all of the financial risks. Writers may steer clear of self-publishing because they are afraid of financial loss, but with a good marketing plan and sales strategy make a profit and return on investment is pretty guaranteed.
According to the Independent Book Publishers Association, a self-publisher is someone that solely publishes their own work. Often times I see an author may set up their own businesses or "publishing houses", but if they are only publishing their own books it is still considered self-publishing.
Hybrid publishing is a mix of these two business models. A hybrid publisher publishes multiple authors and titles a year, just like a traditional publisher, but follows a similar business model as self-publishing in that the author is paying the hybrid publisher to publish their book. This means it is also an author-subsidized model in which the author is assuming the financial risk and not the hybrid publisher.
Why Use a Hybrid Publisher?
The largest challenge to self-publishing is the lack of resources. These resources may look different for each writer: financial resources, knowledge of the industry, relationships with freelancers, marketing or sales experience, and more. The three main benefits I see to using a hybrid publisher are:
1. A hybrid publisher has the resources and connections many authors may lack. An established hybrid publisher will have an in-house project management team, usually called Production Editors or similar. They will have a network of artists or graphic designers, even marketing support. If you feel that you lack in this area, a hybrid publisher will be of great help.
2. A hybrid publisher is cheaper per unit than Print On Demand, like Amazon or IngramSpark. What does this mean? A hybrid publisher will produce a minimum print run (lets say 500 copies minimum); because they are printing in bulk, they can charge you less per book for the production. If Amazon KDP costs you $5.50 to print a book, a hybrid publisher might charge you $3.50 to print the books because you placed a larger order. This is just an example, but it shows how a hybrid publisher is a cheaper cost per unit than Print on Demand.
3. A hybrid publisher provides a degree of social proof that self-publishing does not. Essentially, if a reader is unable to determine the quality of a book, they will look for social proof. A publisher is a form of proof that your book is a quality product, a quality story - or at least, that it has been prepared professionally. Many writers I work with choose a hybrid publisher just for the sake of having their book looked over by another party.
How To Find and Work With a Hybrid Publisher
A simple Google search of "Hybrid Publisher" will yield many results. I recommend looking for one in your area that has printed many titles and that allows you to contact authors for their reviews and experiences.
Here are some great criteria to keep in mind when vetting out hybrid publishers from the Independent Book Publishers Association.
As always, I wish you the best in your writing endeavors! Writing is an ongoing practice, not a destination to arrive or a benchmark to be reached. Was this helpful? If you want more articles and resources like these, join my email list to receive my free Self-Publishing From Start To Finish Guide.