Last week, I blogged about the recent influx of offers some writers were receiving about how so-and-so would “publish” their book for a fee. Of course, some of these fees only escalated. The more you wanted, the more you paid–all for services you could do yourself or that would be done by storefronts when you uploaded a DOC file. This morning, I found the following over on The Passive Voice. So let’s get to it.
The PG post links back to Jane Friedman’s website and a guest post “We All Need To Be Protected From Predatory Publishing Practices”. The author of the post, Brooke Warner, is a hybrid publisher. While there is a lot of what’s “right” in this article, it also raises some questions. For those, I’ll refer you back to PG’s commentary back on his page. Read it and think about everything he has to say.
One point in particular PG made that resonates with me is the question of why the OP’s hybrid company doesn’t share a copy of its contract–one that will cost you a $35 submission fee and then $8500 if you sign. As he states, contracts are not subject to copyright. So why not put it out there for potential clients to see?
He wonders why, with all the non-predatory practices of She Writes Press and SparkPress, the publisher of those two organizations who wrote the OP didn’t include a lot more information about the contract terms of those two organizations.
This is a question you should ask of any publisher before you sign with them. It is especially true of a hybrid publisher. What are they offering, what are the terms, what is the “boilerplate” that might rise up to bite you on your authorial ass later down the road?
Those are just some of the questions you should ask if you are considering hybrid publishing, especially if that same hybrid publisher adds that the monies you pay upfront just to sign the contract do not apply to print ARCs or–duh–actual print books for sale.
Speaking of Ms. Friedman, she wrote a post back in 2021 about hybrid publishing. In it, she gives a good–and simple–explanation of what a hybrid press is:
Hybrid publishing combines elements from two different sources.
- It resembles self-publishing because the author carries the cost and financial risk; thus, it involves an investment of your own capital.
- It resembles traditional publishing because professionals, not you, carry out the tasks required to transform a Word document on your laptop into an object called a book that people can buy and read.
But what I found most illuminating, at least for those who are considering hybrid publishing and want guidance on what they should look for, is the list guidelines set out by the Independent Book Publishers Association in 2018. These are the “musts” a hybrid publisher must be able to do:
- Define a mission and vision for its publishing program.
- Vet submissions.
- Publish under its own imprint(s) and ISBNs.
- 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.
Ms. Friedman has more valuable information in the post, including her own experience with hybrid publishing a couple of works. Read the post and see what you think.
For more information on hybrid publishing, what it is, what you should be aware of, etc., check out this post by Tiffany Hawk. This post is especially helpful for its advice on how to avoid publishing scams. Remember last week’s post. In fact, on a personal note, I checked my author email account after writing the post and found close to 10 such “solicitations” the spam folder had caught. So none of us are safe from them. Because of that, remember the adage that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
If you still aren’t sure what to think about hybrid publishing and whether it is vanity publishing or a real alternative to traditional publishing, let me present the opening paragraph to a MasterClass on it written back in Oct. 2021:
You may struggle to get your first book in the hands of the right people at the right publishing company, leading many authors to give up before finding a home for their manuscript. Hybrid publishing, a newer option in the publishing world, gives authors a quicker and easier path to publishing in exchange for shouldering some of the upfront publishing costs.
The first sentence is little more than clickbait. After all, it basically says there is only one way to find a home for your manuscript and that is with a “publishing company”. Except that is only true if you demand a traditional publishing contract. There are all sorts of small presses out there, not to mention indie publishing. But let’s keep reading.
Hmmm, according to MasterClass, hybrid publishing offers a “quicker and easier path to publishing” in exchange for “some” financial investment from the author.
How is it quicker? Can they convert the book from DOC to mobi or epub or whatever quicker than I can and put it in my hand? I doubt it since I can do so in less than three minutes in most cases using Vellum.
Can they create a cover that meets my requirements quicker than I can find the artwork and put it together? Nope. What about when I decide to hire the art done? I can still probably get it done quicker because I can decide whether to use an artist with a long waiting list or not. Oh, and lets look at the covers those hybrid publishers use. Are they original covers or are they similar to what I do where they have stock art images that may or may not be manipulated? Most of the ones I’ve seen are stock art and I have even been able to find the cover creation sites where they came from.
Editing? Well, what are they calling editing and how long does that take?
Let’s go back and look at the $8500 investment from the hybrid publisher mentioned in the first article listed above. The second bullet point shows that you’d better not write over 100k words. If you do, you have to cut it down in order to fit their “custom interior design”. (Read template) Oooh, and here’s the kicker. Most writers who go the hybrid route do so because they want not just conversion and cover services but they want a “real” editor to edit their book. I may have missed it but all I see listed is that the book will be proofread.
Now, this isn’t saying there aren’t legit and excellent hybrid publishers out there. But it is a warning to watch yourselves and don’t let the “shiny” get in the way of the critical thinking before you sign the contract.
Now for a bit of business. I have a couple of new-ish books out and another coming out soon.
Jaguar Bound — coming May 17th