Most authors are familiar with the difference between self-publishing and traditional publishing, but more and more publishers are popping up with the label of “co-publisher,” “collaborative publisher,” or “hybrid publisher.” When it comes to finding a publisher that fits your needs and your vision for your book, it helps to know what this means and exactly what type of publishing you can expect.
A hybrid press carries the functionality of a traditional press yet can also resemble self-publishers in the fact that the author carries the cost and the financial risk—often requiring a greater investment on your part. The publisher still carries out all the necessary tasks for the production of your book—it’s like hiring a contractor for your book. The publisher builds your book for a fee, but when the publishing is complete, you own the book and all the rights to it, unlike traditional presses that retain a portion of the rights of those books and the royalties.
Some authors worry that if their book is not published by some big, well-known publishing house, then they are not “real authors.” For most readers, if a book is engaging and professionally produced, they don’t really pay much attention to who is behind the book binding. Most readers are far more concerned with the contents of the book and the cover design than they are with the logo on the back. However, it is important to note that not all hybrid publishers are the same. Depending on the training and experience of the publishing team(s), some books might be produced more professionally than others. When it comes to the concept of whether or not a book is “good” or “professional,” it really comes down to opinion. It can be difficult for an author to determine what they are getting into when looking at a hybrid press on the surface. Luckily, the Independent Book Publishers Association released a helpful article to guide hopeful authors in finding a reputable publishing press.
The IBPA’s Hybrid Publishing Criteria lays out six helpful expectations that all hybrid publishers are expected to meet:
- Define a mission and vision for its publishing program
- Vet submissions
- Publish under its own imprint(s) and ISBN
- Publish to industry standards
- Ensure editorial, design, and production quality
- Pursue and manage a range of publishing rights
- Provide distribution services
- Demonstrate respectable sales
- Pay authors a higher-than-standard royalty
The way that a publisher chooses to define and carry out this criteria can vary from press to press, but following this criteria helps ensure that authors are working with a reputable team and getting their money’s worth. It is up to the author to do their homework and find out exactly what they can expect as far as their investment of time and money, and what they can expect to get out of working with a hybrid press. In the end, you are the only one who can answer if this is the right choice for you.