The Ingenium Books Podcast: Author. Publisher. Changemaker.

What is Hybrid Publishing

October 27, 2021 Ingenium Books Season 1 Episode 40
The Ingenium Books Podcast: Author. Publisher. Changemaker.
What is Hybrid Publishing
Show Notes Transcript

Boni and John from Ingenium Books discuss a relatively new trend in publishing: hybrid or partnership publishing. Actually, hybrid publishing has been around for a long time: it's been a model selectively employed by traditional publishers in certain cases. What is it? What are the benefits? Is it right for you? What about industry standards? 

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Welcome to the Empowered Author podcast.

Discussion, tips, insights and advice from those who’ve been there, done that, helping you write, publish and market your nonfiction book. 

Being an author is something that you’ve got to take seriously.

I’m proud I’ve written a book.

What does the reader need, first? What does the reader need, second?

What happens if you start writing your book before you identify your “why”? What’s the problem with that?

If you’re an indie author, you take the risk, you reap the rewards; you are in charge of the decisions; you’re the head of that business.

Know that every emotion you’re feeling when you’re writing is felt by every other writer.

The Empowered Author podcast. Your podcast hosts are Boni and John Wagner-Stafford of Ingenium Books. 


Boni Wagner-Stafford 00:53

Hello and welcome to Ingenium Books’ discussion – talk – all about nonfiction, independent publishing. I’m Boni Wagner-Stafford from Ingenium Books. And I am joined by John Wagner-Stanford of Ingenium Books. That’s right. So we are in a – I forget if we were in this physical space last – the last time we did this. I think so. We’re in a new physical space than we were last time. And we’re having some internet challenges. So we ask for your patience if there are any internet issues. We’re, you know, working with providers to get that taken care of. Anyway, here’s hoping that it will not be a problem. You can always hope, right? Yeah. 

And what we really wanted to focus a little bit on today is: what is hybrid publishing? What is a hybrid publisher? What are the differences? We’re a hybrid publisher and we’re a member of the IBPA and the IBPA has a great definition of what a hybrid publisher is, can be, and maybe should be. Maybe you can talk a little bit about that.


Boni Wagner-Stafford 19:35

Yeah. And so, I’m curious whether anyone watching us now or on live or on the replay understands what a hybrid publisher is or has any questions about it. So consider posting your question while we blather on about it. But so hybrid publishing, as I mentioned off the top – pardon me – is a relatively new entrant in the suite of publishing business models. And so, you know, years ago you had your traditional publishing model: a curated, selective publisher has, you know, really the lion’s share of all the control; takes the lion’s share of royalties; no creative decision – no or little creative decision-making on behalf of the author. And then 2008 really was the beginning of the explosion of self-publishing: full control on behalf of the authors; authors doing everything themselves; 100 percent of their royalties comes to the author; steep learning curve; proliferation of, I would say, substandard material, giving self-publishing a bad name. And so in the trajectory there – traditional and self – comes the hybrid publishing model, which is a partnership model between authors and publishers. And this is an author-funded model and as such, it’s important to understand what the industry standards are and where – how to arm yourself. You know, as an author, if you’re looking into your publishing options for a book, you want to understand what those industry standards are to make sure that you’re not falling into a trap of, you know, of working with someone who’s going to take advantage of you. And, you know, you’ve probably heard the term “vanity press”, which is author-funded models by companies who will publish anybody and anything: all they want us to take your money; it doesn’t really matter whether the book has potential or is any good or will sell. It’s – and for some authors that is just fine but we kind of would say, you know, beware. So hybrid publisher – and again, you mentioned IBPA, which is the Independent Book Publishers Association: Ingenium Books is a member. And the IBPA came out with their hybrid publisher criteria in 2018, which is really, really helpful. So we’ll go through – we’ve actually only got about 10 minutes left in our planned 30 and we can go over that if we want to – but essentially, hybrid publishing companies behave very much like traditional publishers, with the exception of the fact that they’re an author-subsidized business model. So traditional publishing: solicited, quality control, no author upfront investment and the publisher retains somewhere between 85 and 95 percent of the post-sales royalties. So – and they may or may not pay an advance on those royalties to the author. Now important notion that many authors, “Oh, they just want the advance.” They want – “I want it: I want my advance. That’s why I want a traditional publishing deal because I want that advance.” 


John Wagner-Stafford 23:15

That’s an advance.


Boni Wagner-Stafford 23:16

Exactly. It’s an advance against future sales. So many authors get that advance and never see another penny because there’s not the sales to support it. So that’s one thing to know. Hybrid publisher, same thing: quality control, traditional publishing standards, author-funded off the top, author gets a much higher percentage of the post-sale royalties. And according to the IBPA, their standards are, you know – must be 50 percent of net royalties from sales. And ours, for example, is 60. So the list of the nine things: do you want to run through the list of the nine things, John? Or how did you want to go?


John Wagner-Stafford 24:01

Yeah. And maybe we just – because we’re short on time, maybe we focus on the issues that are actually really, really important to our listener. And, you know, one of the things that comes to mind right off the top is the quality and how the hybrid publisher will help the author with the quality: not only of the contents but of the product itself. I think that’s one of the most important things that the hybrid publisher brings to the table.


Boni Wagner-Stafford 24:27

Yeah. So there’s two things there of the nine elements. And we’ve got a link on our website to the – and we summarize it on our website so people can visit if they’re interested in this – but there’s two of the nine elements that deal with the quality that you’re talking about. One is the vetting of submissions – which I’ve mentioned a couple of times – but it means that a hybrid publisher will publish only those titles that meet the mission and vision of the company as well as a defined quality level set by the publisher. So good hybrid publishers don’t publish everything that comes in and they often decline to publish. And we know that because we don’t accept everything that comes our way and we have – and do – decline projects. But so meeting the mission and vision of the company: ours, for example, we want to breathe life into ideas. We focus on nonfiction: producing, publishing, creating and publishing outstanding nonfiction. So, you know, that’s the emphasis: on the outstanding nonfiction. We look for stories that have the potential to really impact a reader’s life: make their life better in any, you know – various ways, shapes or forms. So we do business; we do journalistic nonfiction; we do memoir and self-help. And so even our memoir categories, it’s, you know: is the story – is it a unique take on life events? Are they extraordinary life events? Is the writing extraordinary about events that everybody – or many people – experience? So those are some of the things that we look for when we vet the submissions that come in for memoir, for example. And then the second element that you were talking about is the quality: the production quality. And there are two components of the hybrid publisher criteria from IBPA that talk about this. One is publishing to industry standards. So if you see a book and you open up the book and there’s no copyright page, there’s no front matter, you see a bunch of spelling mistakes or the formatting is – that’s not a hybrid published or a traditionally published book. That is probably a self-published book or a vanity published book that simply hasn’t had the professional, publish– industry standards applied. And so, that’s something that’s important. So a hybrid publisher will also – speaking to quality – ensure editorial design and production quality. So that speaks to that. So, we’d like to think and we look for manuscripts that are ready to publish. We’ve never seen one, actually. It doesn’t mean that they aren’t there but most of the manuscripts that we receive via submission still require some editorial work. And we will provide the feedback to the author as to what is still required. And hybrid publishers – us included – can offer those author services over and above their publishing offer but an author really should have the choice about how they make those improvements – editorial improvements – to their manuscript. So that’s something to watch for. And then, obviously, design and production quality: homemade or – I’m going to say template covers but there are some template covers that are pretty good if they’re done by a designer with experience in the book industry – and then production quality: so well formatted; you know, produced in ways that they stack up and are indistinguishable from any other traditionally/professionally published book. So those are the key things related to quality. What else should we touch on here?


John Wagner-Stafford 28:54

The other main thing that I thought we wanted to just make sure it was well understood – and it’s kind of at the end of their number nines – and before I mentioned number nine and I know we have very little time left but a hybrid publisher – as a traditional publisher – knows, you know, what formats need to be printed and can be printed and would benefit the author of that story. They also know how to get that book out to the world, whether it’s through Amazon or into the bookstores: they know how to do that. And they may help the authors do that, minimizing that learning curve. And they also have a history of sales: in marketing and selling the books. They’ve got a history of performance – you know, whether it’s at, you know, level A, B or C – but they have a history and a knowledge about how to sell these books. And then at the end of the list – which I think is important to remind our audience – is the royalty share: where the traditional publisher would keep 90, 85 to 95 percent or so of the royalties for themselves, meaning that the author only gets 10, 15, you know, five, 10, 15 percent, it’s turned around in the hybrid scenario.


Boni Wagner-Stafford 30:15

Exactly. So much larger percentage of royalties on sales: more than 50 percent. So, yes, all of that. So lots more information on our website,, where you can find both a summary of and a link to the hybrid publisher criteria, you know, for anybody that wants to go and check that out. And I guess that’s it from this Canada Day. Yeah. Alright. Thanks very much. Bye. 


John Wagner-Stafford 30:47

Bye-bye. Thanks, Boni.


Boni Wagner-Stafford 30:52

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