Going beneath the surface of a subject obviously means getting a deeper understanding as you explore. Sometimes, those deep-dives reveal inconvenient facts. In my case, submerging myself in the world of publishing revealed that “hybrid” has an enormously loaded meaning in the field, one that has nothing to do with what Hybrid Pub Scout is or does.
The name of the podcast and business means something unique to me. Since I’ve spent so many years with this title and branding, I don’t want to leave it behind. All the same, the similarity has felt like an elephant in the room for a while now. So, instead of completely changing everything, I’d like to clarify the difference between a hybrid publisher and Hybrid Pub Scout Media.
The Hybrid Pub Scout Podcast: Traditional and Indie Publishing and Everything In Between
Back in 2018, I was about a year out of grad school and in my second year of working at a traditional publishing company. I still had a lot of questions about the constantly changing publishing world, especially about alternatives to the traditional formats that had already been a big part of my life. With all the information in the world at my fingertips, I decided to go on a quest to understand as much about the industry as I could—this time with a bigger focus on those who were doing things a bit differently from the way I’d learned.
Some people have the internal motivation to learn about something in a vacuum, for the sheer joy of scholarly pursuit. I really wish I were like that. I really do. However, my brain requires the push of an external motivator (or at least it needs to be tricked into believing there is an external motivator). Developing a podcast that allowed me to interview people in different areas of publishing was the perfect impetus.
“Hybrid Pub Scout” means just what the tagline says—mapping the frontier between traditional and indie publishing. If for no one else, I do it for myself and the few people who I know are out there cheering for me.
Hybrid Publishing: A Debated Publishing Model
One thing I’ve learned in the past several years is that “hybrid publisher” is a term that can set off alarms for people. That’s often for good reason, too! Many publishing folks, including myself, would warn authors to go into a hybrid publishing situation with eyes wide open.
That’s not to say authors shouldn’t be wary of traditional publishing houses as well. As we recently saw with Penguin Randomhouse vs. DOJ, big traditional publishing houses aren’t the blazing beacons of good business many may have thought they were.
Hybrid publishers are responsible for the same services as traditional publishing houses including design, editing, production, sales, and distribution. The difference is in the way production is paid for and how authors are paid. While traditional publishing houses offer advances and royalties to authors, and don’t charge fees, hybrid publishers are subsidized by the authors themselves. Authors are responsible for paying a cut of the production costs, but they also should receive higher royalties than they would at a traditional publishing house.
Publishing organizations like to keep an ear to the ground and a discerning eye over what types of hybrid publishing outfits are out there. The Independent Book Publishers Association (of which I am a member), recently published an eleven-point list of criteria for reputable hybrid publishers. If you’re looking into using that model for your own book, I’d recommend taking a look at that list.
Hybrid Pub Scout Media: Assisted Self Publishing Services
Self-publishing is highly competitive, and it’s important to put your best work forward. Incredible writers might not be great at formatting and designing their books. They might be prone to spelling and grammar mistakes. (Yes, you can be a good writer and litter your drafts with typos! Gasp!) Their covers might make the book look like fantasy when it’s actually a memoir. These are just a few reasons why paying for publishing services, even when you self-publish, can be really valuable.
I’m not a hybrid publisher. I do not pretend to be. I doubt I ever will be.
The way I’m most comfortable conducting business is having clients only pay for publishing services, rather than creating deals based on shared royalties and rights. With Hybrid Pub Scout Media, books are published under the client’s “imprint” (usually the client’s company name) and using accounts owned by them—not me. Sales, marketing, distribution, and rights management are all the author’s purview.
Once the book is published, I wave and blow kisses as it sails on to the next phase of its journey. If an author wants my help with related writing projects and promotion, those services are kept completely separate. I’m happy to give my opinions, but ultimately I’m there for the production side of things. Especially since I primarily work with entrepreneurs and sales and marketing folks, I have every confidence they know best how to get their book in front of the right people.