Much like book packaging, hybrid publishing falls somewhere between traditional and self-publishing. It’s part of the grey area. Hybrid publishers are sometimes called team publishers, providing structure and support for authors who choose to use a method that blends traditional and self-publishing.
Some hybrids charge authors a fee to publish, while others provide the author with revenue from sales. There are even a few that offer higher royalties than traditional publishers (wild, right?). To hybrid publishers, it isn’t just about publishing the book.
She Writes Press calls itself an independent publishing company, publishing books for, by, and about women. Authors invest up front, retaining 60% of the net profits from print books and 80% from eBooks. She Writes publishes manuscripts based on merit and what they deem publishable, as opposed to self-publishers, who publish anything, regardless of quality. And even though they provide a traditional publishing house experience, She Writes allows writers to keep full ownership of their projects while following through on promises of editorial and marketing teams.
Then there are hybrid publishers like Evolve Publishing. Evolve aims to publish “unique, inspiring works that have the power to transform the world.” They partner with the top nonfiction and fiction authors who want to take their brand and business to the next level. Through respect and partnership, Evolve provides authors with a community that supports one another.
Considering both She Writes and Evolve, as well as probably dozens of other hybrid publishers out there who aren’t mentioned here, there seems to be a hybrid publisher for authors of any level. There are even a few dedicated to specific genres (such as Entangled Publishing, a hybrid publisher for romance fiction). But it’s not all lollipops and gumdrops for this realm of the industry. Hybrid publisher Booktrope closed its doors at the end of May this year, and speculation says it’s because the founders could no longer afford it.
Booktrope had recently come into $1.2 million dollars in seed money (money given to initiate projects) last year. So what happened to it? According to Self Publishing Review, the money likely went to the salaries of hired editing and marketing teams, rent, and other plausible expenses.
But this publisher seems to have had more than just financing problems. According to one of the contracted editors, Ally Bishop, “Booktrope never placed a priority on qualifications when hiring. The people at the top had little-to-no book publishing or editing experience, yet those same people were their acquisitions team…They didn’t ask, didn’t check backgrounds, didn’t require their book marketing managers to have any previous marketing experience.”
So what does all this mean for the authors whose books they published? According to Booktrope’s website, it had planned to remove all published books from sale as of May 30 and return the rights to the authors by June 1. The problem with that is authors are going to have an extremely hard time finding a traditional publisher willing to re-publish their previously published work, especially if they didn’t sell well. Authors either have to resort to self-publishing to get their books back on the shelf, try their hand at many traditional publishers, or write something new and hope someone will pick it up.
As for all of you who like the sound of hybrid publishing, make sure you look into the publisher before sending over a manuscript. Check their background, look for reviews, maybe even see if you can contact an author who has previously used their services. Otherwise, you could find yourself caught in a “Booktrope situation” and be stuck with a manuscript that you have no idea what to do with.