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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hybrid Publishing: What it is...and what it might become.

by Amy

From our tree house here, high above the publishing jungle, we hear things. (I hear things in coffee shops, too, and sometimes they end up in my books.) Lately, the term “hybrid publishing” has been tickling our ears. Monkeys love tickles and I was intrigued, so I snuffled around to see what all the hub-bub was about.

Hybrid publishing was originally minted to refer to those lucky self-published books that were later picked up by a traditional publisher. There are many examples of these 'cross-over' books, but I’ll point out PJ Hoover and her book Solstice, because she’s my Facebook friend and I like her.

(My tiara. I wear it on Wednesdays.)
Ironically, the term also applies to the opposite situation.  Books that were originally published by a traditional publisher and have gone out of print or are stuck on a backlist are being reclaimed by the authors, repackaged and re-released, either as ebooks or POD. I personally know of three well-published authors in the midst of this now. The process isn’t always easy – publishers are sometimes reluctant to let go of the rights. But those authors who can swing it get 100% royalties, lots of freedom and massive power. And a tiara. And a cape. (Part of that might be a lie.) Hybrid publishing is also used to describe traditionally published authors who decide to go the self-published route with their later books. But to me, that’s just self-publishing by a famous person.

Teams are fun!
The last example of hybrid publishing is one that I’m really excited about and one I expect we’ll see happening more and more. It’s a team approach—where an author and/or illustrator join forces with others to bring a project to life. Editors, digital content people, publicists, PR people…any number of folks can be added to the team, depending on what the writer and/or illustrator need, creating a process somewhere between traditional and self-publishing. I foresee a not-so-distant future where hybrid published titles like this are marketed on the street cred of the team members. Some free-lance editors (like our Fairy-Godmonkeys Emma Dryden & Harold Underdown) already have great name recognition and since they don’t work with everyone who knocks on their door, their vetting process offers a level of confidence to a potential buyer/reader.

A company called NetMinds is focusing on this ‘team approach’ with their Disruptive Team Publishing Platform, touted as “an alternative to traditional and self-publishing.” From their press release:  

Net Minds has built a software platform that allows authors to find any member of the publishing value chain, such as editors, designers, publicists, etc., selecting potential collaborators through a discovery system that includes ratings and commentary on a professional’s work. These teammates are invited into, or can request to join a project, offered traditional transactional and non-traditional compensation options, like percentages of the book’s financial performance, and the community then produces the book.”

In a similar-but-slightly-different vein, there is Diversion Books, headed by Scott Waxman, of Waxman Leavall Literary Agency (no stranger to traditional publishing.) Diversion offers “…a full service approach to production, marketing, and publicity, and engages the latest tools and technologies in order to produce and promote its titles in the best possible way.” To over-simplify their services...they help you self-publish your book, BUT there is a submission process and they don’t accept every project. They also take more in royalties than self-publishers but the author’s cut is still significantly higher than with traditional publishing—50% or more. Sadly, Diversion does not accept children’s, MG or YA titles at this time.

So, all of this is VERY cool stuff, but what do you guys think? Is this the way of the future? What are the drawbacks? Would you hybrid publish?


  1. I liken the last example similar to film production (I liken a lot of things to film). As you know most Film Production Companies have a core of just 5 people, then through each process of production they hire in "contractors" such as a writer, director, cinematographer, editor, special effects artist...oh and of course actors, terminating their contracts as soon as their jobs are done. The end product is hopefully larger than the sum of their contributions. I think i shall do this with my film company, create some sort of hybrid publishing team. Great eye opening blog here Amy.

  2. It sounds very similar to film production, then. I am looking foward to going through the process as a hybrid publisher and comparing it to my previous self-publishing experience.

  3. This ties in well with the recent FB discussion on our need to be entrepreneurs, which doesn't mean we have to do everything ourselves! Indeed, for many the team approach will be the most successful. So, yes, I would hybrid publish if I self publish because I would need and want the expertise of others in order to give my book the best possible chance.

    1. Those are exactly my thoughts, too, Joanna! And having self-published before, I know what a lonely road it can be. I look forward to having a team, this time around. :)