Hybrid publishing, despite its unsexy name, does have clear appeal. It’s getting attention. The industry is writing about it and therefore further codifying and validating it.

BROOKE WARNER in Publisher’s Weekly

Hybrid Publishing

The Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) took an important step in 2018 to formalise hybrid publishing by laying out nine criteria that publishers must meet to be called hybrid publishers. Brooke Warner wrote in Publishers Weekly (14 Dec 2018): “The criteria are important because hybrid publishing, despite its unsexy name, does have clear appeal. It’s getting attention. The industry is writing about it and therefore further codifying and validating it.”

The IBPA Advocacy Committee published in 2018 a list of nine criteria defining what it means to be a professional hybrid publisher:

“IBPA’s Hybrid Publisher Criteria requires that hybrid publishers behave just like traditional publishers in all respects, except when it comes to the business model. Hybrid publishers use an author-subsidized business model, as opposed to financing all costs themselves, and in exchange return a higher-than-industry-standard share of sales proceeds to the author. In other words, a hybrid publisher makes income from a combination of publishing services and book sales.

“Although hybrid publishing companies are author-subsidized, they are different from other author-subsidized models in that hybrid publishers adhere to professional publishing standards. Regardless of who pays for editorial, design, and production fees, it is always the publisher that bears responsibility for producing, distributing, and ultimately selling professional-quality books.”

The 9 Pillars of Hybrid Publishing

IBPA’s Hybrid Publisher Criteria includes the following list of exceptions, which all hybrid publishers are expected to meet:

  • 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.

Hybrid publishers select and curate their projects. As with traditional publishers, they consider the market potential of manuscripts before accepting them. Hybrid publishers that take anyone and everyone are no different to a self-publishing service.

A self-publishing author can easily get distribution through online retail, via Amazon and Ingram, whereas hybrid publishers must offer bricks-and-mortar distribution to bookstores through traditional distribution channels.

A good hybrid works with authors both pre-publication and post-publication, the relationship doesn’t end once the book is done.

“The best hybrid publishers conduct some level of gatekeeping, offer value that the author would have a hard time securing on her own, and should also pay better royalties than a traditional publishing deal,” writes Jane Friedman, author of The Business of Being a Writer. “If the hybrid publisher presents itself as little more than ‘Here’s a package of services you can buy’ then it’s most likely a dressed-up self-publishing firm.”

The best hybrid publishers conduct some level of gatekeeping.

JANE FRIEDMAN The Business of Being a Writer