Hybrid publishing is controversial. My memoir My Beautiful Psychosis; Making Sense of Madness has been offered three publishing deals. I not jumping up and down with glee because they are hybrid publishing deals.
What is hybrid publishing?
In traditional publishing the writer gets an advance and receives a small percentage of the book’s profit. A traditional publisher pays the author less than 10% of the profit in royalties because the traditional publisher shoulders 100% of the financial risk. In self publishing, the author pays and does all the work but gets all of the profit. Hybrid publishing is somewhere in the middle. Hybrid publishers use the words ‘contributory contract‘, ‘inclusive contract‘ or ‘contribution-based contract.’ This is when the author pays for publishing and receives higher royalties than in traditional publishing but significantly less than if they self publish.
What does a hybrid publishing deal look like?
The publishing deals that I have been offered vary but they swing in roundabouts. Austin Macauley Publishers are asking £2300 to produce a Paperback, an eBook, a Book Trailer and an Author Website. In return they will pay 25% royalties on Paperbacks and 40% on eBooks.
Olympia Publishers want £2700 to produce a Paperback and an eBook but no mention of a website or trailer. They pay out less in royalties on the Paperback (20%) but more on the eBook – 50%. Pegasus Publishing are asking £2400 and pay out 25% royalties for the paperback, 50% for the eBook and 50% for the audiobook.
Are any of these hybrid publishing deals worth it?
Signing a hybrid deal would be worth it if it meant my book would be distributed to bookshops. This is not something I can do as a self-publisher. But would it? What actually happens is hybrid publishers make the books available for bookshops to order, which is a very different thing. There is no guarantee that the bookstores will actually place an order for my book. In fact, it is more likely that they won’t. After all, traditional publishers know what bookshops want and if they thought it would sell then they would have offered me a deal.
Is there ANY reason why I should sign a hybrid publishing deal?
Perhaps a hybrid publisher would help me sell more copies. They would market, promote and publicising my book. Perhaps it would reach a wider audience than it would reach by myself. In actual fact, many authors have complained that hybrid publishers did nothing to promote their book. This is quite normal as traditional publishers don’t do anything either.
Does a hybrid publishing deal mean my book is good enough?
Publishers receive several hundred submissions every month and this kind of hybrid deal is offered to only 10% of authors, or so I’m told by one of the hybrid publishers. Having three deals on the table lets me know that My Beautiful Psychosis is considered, by the publishing industry, good enough for publication. However these hybrid publishers don’t think it will make them enough money to take the financial risk on it. That is why the author has to pay for publishing. Hybrid publishing is really just paying for self publishing, which is the worst of both worlds.
What about a traditional deal?
Hay House rejected my book outright, not because it wasn’t good enough but because I didn’t have a big enough author platform. What they needed was for me to have 20,000 followers and 1,000 people engaging with my online content on a regular basis. They needed to know that there were enough people waiting to buy my book. It makes financial since they are paying an author money up front, they need to know this money will be recouped.
What about self publishing?
With self publishing, I can make my book available on Amazon as an eBook, Paperback and Audiobook. This would cost me nothing – or nothing more than I have already spent on an editor and an artist for the cover. Amazon pays out 70% in royalties, which is a deal that no publisher can better. I would effectively be losing about 35% of the royalties if I go with a hybrid. And I would have to pay for that privilege.
Is self publishing better than a hybrid publishing deal?
Hybrid deals look tempting because the royalties are better than the traditional publishing route. But if I self publish, I can get a whole lot more for a whole lot less. Hybrid publishers advertise online for authors to submit their work. They make no mention of ‘hybrid’ in their ads. This makes me think these deals are exploitative. Writers think they are being published by a real publisher but they are effectively paying for publishing and yet the publisher still takes most of the profits.
Why self publishing with Amazon is the BEST option.
Criticise Amazon all you like but when it comes to publishing it is the economic and environmental option. Amazon prints Paperbacks as and when they are ordered. This is called Print On Demand. When you order a Paperback on Amazon, the digital file is sent to your nearest depot and printed before being delivered to your door. This Print On Demand process means there is no need to pay up front for 2000 books to be type set and printed in the traditional way. Every year, millions of unsold books are pulped, dumped into landfill or dissolved into a milky liquid and turned into recycled paper. This doesn’t happen with Print On Demand. Every book that is printed has been ordered and paid for by the customer. Zero waste paperwise. Zero waste moneywise.
What is my advice?
My advice is to self publish as long as you’re willing to do the work: formatting; cover design; back cover blurb; promotion etc. All of this you can learn online. There is plenty of help available and lots of resources out there. If you need help and don’t want to spend time on that then, and only then, spend money on a hybrid publisher.
What I decided in the end…
I turned down the hybrid deals and decided to self publish. But in the end though, I got a traditional deal with Aeon Books. When I asked Dr. Russell Razzaque to write the foreword, he was so blown away by the book that he wanted to help me get it published. He had contacts in the industry and the rest, as they say, is history.
My Beautiful psychosis: Making Sense of Madness is published by Aeon Books.