Ever Heard of Hybrid Publishers? The Difference Between Traditional Publishers, Self-Publishing, and Hybrid Publishing Services – The Urban Writers

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Ever Heard of Hybrid Publishers?

by The Urban Writers

Learn More About The Difference Between Traditional Publishers, Self-Publishing, and Hybrid Publishing Services

If you're anywhere near publishing a book, then kudos to you! You've done something that writers from all around the world attempt, but rarely see through.

Perhaps, the journey of writing your manuscript felt like such an exciting, yet a complicated task, that you thought publishing would be the easier part. Most authors who reach the publishing stage soon find out that producing and distributing their book is more challenging than it appears at first glance.

With so much work involved in turning a manuscript to a published product, it's no wonder so many authors prefer to outsource some or all of the following jobs:

  • Manuscript editing and proofreading

  • Formatting and design

  • Book cover design

  • Printing, production, and distribution

  • And other related publishing tasks.

Hybrid publishers - Hybrid self publishing

The costs of publishing are said to be the lowest when the author invests and carries out all management duties on their own, with the added benefit of earning higher revenue percentages from book sales. But this method can have a downfall.

With so many duties involved (to publish on your own) and so many potential errors that could result in plummeting sales, taking up all the publisher work is simply too high of a financial risk for many authors.

The opportunity to reach traditional publishers and get your book published is simply too competitive for many authors who are aware of the vetting process to publish. Only a small portion of books sent to an average publishing company ever get published, leaving the majority of authors to fend for themselves.

Ever Heard of Hybrid Self-Publishing? It's Been Here All Along!

With the traditional publishing model on the one end and self-publishing on the other, many authors are left to choose between giving up a large portion of their royalties versus earning higher royalties from self-publishing at the cost of greater financial risk.

You see, when a traditional publishing company picks a writer, they take up all the publishing costs surrounding book production and publishing.

But, when a self-publishing author is left with funding production costs, it's often too high of a financial risk. At the prospect of earning approximately 70% of sales, self-published authors sometimes invest tens of thousands of dollars with no guarantee of seeing a return.

Hybrid Publishing to The Rescue!

If you don't want to spend months or years waiting for traditional publishing houses to pick up your manuscript, and you don't want to take up the enormous financial risks of handling all the book production costs, there is a happy middle: hybrid publishers.

Wait...What Is Hybrid Publishing?

Hybrid publishing is a distinct business model in which a hybrid publishing company, often referred to as "hybrid press," takes up manuscript editing, design, production, and distribution, albeit funded by the client (i.e., a hybrid model).

Now, you must wonder, what's the advantage of using a hybrid model when you, as an author, are still to carry out all the costs?

The answer is simple and lies in the savings that come from having all the tasks, contractors, and book production and distribution services done by a single company and in one place.

In exchange for a one-time payment, a hybrid press will carry out dozens, if not hundreds of duties that would otherwise take months of your time, and with a level of professionalism that reduces financial risk.

What is a hybrid publisher - Hybrid publishing

Can You Tell a Good Hybrid Publisher?

Reputable hybrid publishers are publishing companies that take up manuscript editing, design, printing, and distribution and sell their publishing services to authors.

Unlike traditional publishing houses, a good hybrid publisher offers a significantly higher royalty percentage to their author, often averaging 50%. In exchange for royalties, hybrid publishers are able to offer book production and distribution services at a lot more affordable price.

Similar to a traditional publishing company, a reputable hybrid publisher has its own editorial standards and a mission statement on which they base their author selections.

If they didn't do that, they'd belong to an industry called 'vanity publishing,' where publishing companies choose to take up the publishing process for any author willing to pay for their services.

In that sense, hybrid publishers are similar to traditional publishers as they do have a certain author selection process and apply certain editorial standards. With vanity publishing, any author can pay for their book to be produced, but that doesn't guarantee book success.

The Hybrid Publishing Definition

The Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) outlined the specific industry standards that apply to hybrid publishing work. These nine criteria ensure a clear distinction between the hybrid business model, vanity publishing, and traditional distribution and publishing.

Hybrid Models

According to these criteria, a hybrid model must feature the following services for their published books to distinguish from a traditional or a vanity publisher:

  • Have a clearly defined publishing program, mission, and vision

  • Provide book production and distribution

  • Have submission vetting standards and criteria for acceptance

  • Adhere to industry standards when publishing

  • Adhere to certain production, design, and editorial quality

  • Use their own ISBNs and imprints for publishing

  • Offer a variety of publishing rights

  • Have a proven track record of securing their authors with sales

  • Offer higher royalties compared to the publishing standards.

What is hybrid publishing - Hybrid publishing definition - Hybrid book publishers

Are Hybrid Book Publishers Different Than Vanity Publishing?

The previously mentioned standards set by IBPA ensure that the hybrid presses stand out in comparison to vanity publishing, mainly in the following:

  • The existence of a publishing mission, vision, and program which improve the author selection with hybrid presses. In contrast, vanity publishing doesn't have to make any selection when it comes to authors and books that they accept.

  • Higher standards apply to manuscript acceptance, as well as the quality of editing, production, and design.

  • With vanity publishing, authors carry out the duty of obtaining their own ISBN and their own imprint, whereas hybrid publishers are obliged to include them in their services.

  • Hybrid publishers retain a portion of royalties, whereas with vanity publishing the authors earn all the royalties.

  • Vanity publishers aren't obliged to secure sales, while hybrid models are expected to demonstrate the ability to secure sales.

Is the Hybrid Publishing Model Similar to Self-Publishing Process?

Hybrid publishing aims to fix some of the shortcomings of traditional and self-publishing, by providing several packages to publish (e.g., fiction or nonfiction books). Namely, it aims to secure authors with quality publishing services with lower publishing costs, while providing higher sales revenue.

If you choose a reputable hybrid publisher, they'll have your book professionally produced and distributed, with a reasonable expectation to drive initial sales. In that sense, hybrid publishing companies are much different than being a self-publisher or to self-manage after getting published.

As a self-publisher, you take up all costs with no guarantee of sales, nor the quality of editing, design, and production. Costs may increase beyond what you planned, especially if you don't have a lot of experience with various contractors.

Another important similarity between hybrid publishers and self-publishers is that, with both business models, you have a significant say in the book editing, design, and production process. Each hybrid publisher likely has its own rights and loyalties distribution based on the agreement, yet this form of publishing still includes the author to the greatest possible degree.

How Much Does Hybrid Publishing Cost?

Although hybrid publisher costs come out between $3–$5000 on average, it's hard to pinpoint the exact costs for a project ahead of time. Many authors who used hybrid publisher services claim to have had additional costs later on when they decided to invest additionally into the quality of their book.

While a traditional publisher doesn't charge authors any production costs, the publishing industry largely dictates trends that sometimes lead to book branding changes that authors aren't too happy about.

Luckily for you, hybrid publishers also use a publishing contract that defines the range of services you'll be using, as well as the scope of your involvement in your decision-making and profit share.

With this in mind, you can use the opportunity that you otherwise wouldn't have with traditional publishing or vanity presses and control your costs while making sure that you're getting the quality you're looking for.


In order to publish a print book (paperback format) with a hybrid publisher, you'll likely invest in the following services:

  • Manuscript editing

  • Front and back cover design, book illustrations

  • Book formatting

  • Print-on-demand services

  • Book distribution

  • Book Marketing

  • And more.

With that in mind, your costs will vary depending on your book size, complexity, and the type of editing, printing, and design quality that you wish a final product to have.

Are Traditional Publishers Better Than Hybrid Publishers?

Hybrid deals give you the advantage of decision-making much more than a traditional contract with a publishing house does. With that, you have greater control over what the published book will look like.

On the other hand, both the author and a traditional publisher profit from a standard deal as both bring important resources to the table. A traditional publisher may take the bulk of your sales and revenue, but they can guarantee decent book publicity.

With the guarantee of book marketing and costs of production off your plate comes a lot less involvement in the decision-making process. Many authors were less enthusiastic about how their books were designed, edited, and advertised, and didn't feel like their sales made up for the loss of book identity that they worked so hard to create.

As you can see, there is a trade-off between the involvement in your project and profiting from it, no matter which publishing house you choose.

As with other indie markets, authors tend to appreciate more the opportunity to have control over book publishing, even if it means fewer sales. If you're one of these authors, the authenticity of your book means more than seeing it on a shelf in a famous book store next to other popular print books.

If you're an author willing to invest enough money in creating a product that's a faithful representation of your book, and you're willing to constantly look for creative ways to advertise it, a hybrid model is a great way to publish.

The prospect of not seeing your investment return here isn't as bad as earning profits from a book that's been stripped of its authenticity. It is a justified choice to make when you're deciding to publish.

How to Decide Between Choosing a Self-Publishing Model, Traditional Publishing Model, or Hybrid Publishing Service?

Although vanity publishing services are frowned upon in the world of literature, the vanity press has its justifiable use in certain situations. If you're absolutely sure of your book's success upon polishing and you're certain that there's no need for a traditional publisher to back it up, then go for it! Vanity press doesn't charge any royalties, and given that you enjoy decent sales, you could profit significantly.

However, if you can't rely on a famous name or internet following to drive book sales, then you need to decide if you wish to self-publish or work with hybrid publishers. In that sense, most authors who prefer publishing on their own do so because they've gained enough knowledge to fund their own book and still be certain of its success.

This could be the case if you have a lot of designs, marketing, branding, and editorial knowledge, and if you already have developed relationships with libraries and brick-and-mortar bookstores who'd gladly sell your book.

However, if you're working with limited resources and you don't wish to gamble with traditional press, then you might greatly benefit from hybrid publishing. Aspiring authors who have a bit of money to invest, but don't wish to use vanity presses, could potentially benefit from having their books produced and distributed by hybrid publishers, yet with only 50% of book sales revenue.

Choosing the right business models for your book publishing isn't an easy task, but it's worth considering for the sake of better book success.


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