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Hybrid Publishing 101

Today, we’re going to talk about hybrid publishing. Why? Because it could be the best of both worlds for your publishing career.

To explain hybrid publishing, I’m going to talk about the two main routes of publishing that you can take.

Traditional publishing is when your book is published through a publishing house. Often people think of the big four publishers: Penguin Random House, Macmillan, Hachette, and HarperCollins Publisher, but this can mean other publishing houses, such as Scholastic and more independent houses, such as Sourcebooks.

You would sign a contract with these publishers to publish your book. Often you need an agent to gain access to these publishing houses, but not always. I am still an un-agented author. And I have published with HarperCollins Publishers. Also, you would often get paid in advance and or royalties depending on your contract.

I was with Harper Collins under a digital first imprint, which means that I did not get an advance, but I did receive higher royalties. Some other authors may receive an advance, which is paid out in different segments, and they have to earn that advance back to the publisher before they see royalties. Those are just two different ways that the payment structure works.

The publishing houses cover all expenses for the production and marketing of your book. There is a bit of a stigma here where people think that if you get published by a traditional publishing house, they take care of all of the marketing.

That’s very untrue. Most of the time you do as an author, have to market your own books, in addition to the support of your publishing house.

Self-publishing or independent publishing is when you, as the author publish a product, a book on your own. You don’t necessarily need an agent. You won’t sign a contract with a specific publishing house, but you have to handle all the tasks and expenses of producing and marketing your book.

You’re also in full control of when your book comes out, what formats you want to make your book in. You retain all your rights and the profits. The context at which I describe hybrid publishing is not what some believe as a hybrid publisher.

These are publishing houses that take aspects from both of those routes, traditional and self-publishing and sort of merge them together. For instance, you would publish under this publishing house, but may have to incur some of the productions and, or marketing or warehousing or distribution costs. It really depends, but you may retain most or all your rights.

There are a lot of nuances with hybrid publishers, but that’s not what we’re discussing today.

In the publishing industry hybrid publishing is when someone like me publishes both traditional and independent books at one point or another, these authors have signed a traditional contract and have published books on their own.

For instance, from 2013 to 2020, I published 13 books with HQ digital, which is an imprint of HarperCollins. And in 2021, Self-published my first non-fiction book and also a reverted title from my publisher ‘Soul Taken’. So, I’m considered a hybrid author.

So how can you use hybrid publishing as an advantage for your author career?

With traditional publishers, typically it takes 18 months to two years for your book to come out once you have your contract. But hybrid publishing means that you can self-publish books in between that timeline and make money while you’re waiting for the production process and or advances or royalties.

You can make more money with hybrid publishing. Self-published authors make more royalties on their books. You’re not sharing royalties with a publishing house and paying your agent their commission. You’re getting paid directly from vendors, such as Amazon and any other platforms that you choose to publish on. And if you aren’t enrolling in the KDP select program on Amazon, you can even sell directly from your website, which you get even more royalties.

Another advantage is publishing in multiple genres. Traditional publishing tends to lean toward the “hot” genres at the time. And any other genres outside of those seem to be called “dead”, but there are many successful self-published authors who are writing in these “dead” genres on their own. And publishing to their own readers who are ravenous to read these types of books that they can’t get at their bookstore or traditional publishing space.

Readers of these genres are constantly hungry for these books and self- published authors offer it to them. And you can also explore genres that you are passionate about that may not necessarily be in or trending in the traditional spaces when you’re writing it. And you really get the best of both worlds.

If you have any questions about hybrid publishing, please leave a comment. 

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