Hybrid publishers take a little bit from the submission publishing model and a little bit from the self-publishing model. Hybrid publishers form a close business relationship with the writers whose work they produce. Hybrid publishers exercise editorial discretion, they conduct market research, and they derive their profit from book sales and rely on book sales to generate revenue.
According to the International Book Publishing Association (https://www.ibpa-online.org/page/hybrid-publisher-criteria-download), a reputable hybrid publisher should:
- 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 publishing is nothing new, and submission model publishers, academic publishers, literary publishers often adopt a hybrid publishing model for commissioned books. Clients whose primary business is not publishing but who wish to have books professionally published contract a publisher for their services. In essence, this is hybrid publishing. In some cases, those clients will be authors; in some cases those clients will be businesses. Hybrid publishing is a commercial venture.
Hybrid publishers work “up front” with their clients and offer publishing services to the businesses and writers whose works they choose to produce. This is different from submission models for whose services writers do not have to pay. Most submission-model publishers in Saskatchewan benefit from administrative support in the form of grants or operating revenue from larger corporations associated with their presses, which allows them to hire staff and freelance editors, designers, etc.. Hybrid publishers use an initial investment from any number of sources as bridge financing to begin production work. Most hybrid presses do not receive any support to offset the cost of overhead, administration, and staff costs. In Saskatchewan, trade publishing has not been supported as it has been in other jurisdictions, which is one reason why the hybrid business model has become so successful. Some forms of scholarly or academic publishing are a form of hybrid publishing; many scholarly or academic works arrive with grants, bursaries, or some kind of investment for research or for book production. Many hybrid publishers have mandates to produce books from traditionally under-represented demographics, or for niche publishing.
The “risk” or investment that hybrid presses put in to each book is not only financial (their own time, energy, and expertise), but also reputational – hybrid presses have a brand image to maintain and protect, and they have existing relationships in the book industry which provides them proven access to retail and distribution networks. One of the benefits an author may receive from working with a hybrid press is higher royalty payments – because an author’s initial investment and any other bridge financing help offset the cost of production, a hybrid press may be able to allocate more of the resulting revenue to royalties. Each contract is different, however, as each business is unique.
To read about hybrid publishing from an author’s perspective, read Barbara Linn Probst’s piece, Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know: Hybrid Publishing, at Jane Friedman (https://www.janefriedman.com/everything-youve-always-wanted-to-know-hybrid-publishing/).
Regardless of the business model, whether it’s a hybrid publisher or a submission-model publisher or an academic press, there are books published which are wholly financed by the client or by a third source – these are often promotional books or corporate memorabilia. These books are not intended for and do not make it to the retail marketplace.