The Value of Hybrid Publishing to Self-Publishing Authors

Despite the name, hybrid publishing can be a valuable service for writers looking to self-publish their books.

As I covered in a previous article, hybrid publishing is when you pay a company upfront to help you prepare and publish your book.

While the term “hybrid” is used in various contexts, I’ll assume for the sake of this article that you’re working with a freestanding hybrid press that upholds high standards while allowing you to retain control over your book.

If you’re looking to make self-publishing books a career, you may wonder why it may be worth hiring a hybrid. After all, it can cost considerable money for a service you could handle by yourself for considerably less.

In this article, I’ll explain how hybrids justify their service prices and why hybrid publishing can work for you.

Hybrid publishing works with you to hold and maintain your book to professional standards

It’s always worth repeating: for a self-published book to succeed, it has to be of high quality.

“High quality” means your book needs thorough editing, an eye-catching book cover, solid book production, enticing book copy, far-reaching marketing, and numerous other factors that set apart a professional self-published title from the amateurs.

If you’re a first-time author opting out of traditional publishing, it can be daunting to abide by those high standards. To do so, you’d have to learn your share of the publishing process and assemble a team of collaborators to help you with everything else you can’t handle by yourself.

An alternative is to hire a hybrid publisher. When you meet with a hybrid, their coordinator will work with you to vet your book to ensure it’s a good fit for their services. Then the hybrid will educate you about all the necessary services so you can cover all of your bases and craft a publishing package that works best for you.

Hybrid publishing can also help you save time—and often money

When you self-publish solo, you must put in a lot of time. A lot of time requires directly handling aspects of the publishing process. It also involves spending countless hours finding and managing collaborators.

With a hybrid, you instead pay a company to do all the delegation. Of course, you’ll still need to discuss your expectations and needs for a project. However, a hybrid press will then draw from their pool of talent and employ their organizational expertise to secure services in days or weeks for what could take weeks or months for a novice self-publisher.

You may even save money. For example, when hiring contractors yourself, you may end up paying more than what’s reasonable or taking on unexpected costs to replace someone who doesn’t work out. Meanwhile, hybrids are trained to handle those hitches, passing those savings to you.

Hybrid publishing allows you to keep control over how your book is published

Other publishing models require authors to yield considerable control over their books. Traditional publishers will often make choices for their authors, even against the authors’ wishes. Meanwhile, vanity presses don’t do the collaboration and education hybrids do, which may lead to a final product that the author isn’t satisfied with.

Most hybrids make author ownership a core value. This starts with the package, where many hybrid presses will allow authors to opt in and out of various services. Even after the package is agreed upon, hybrids work with authors throughout the publication, keeping regular communication and even allowing authors to veto decisions.

Do keep in mind that sometimes a hybrid publisher might say no in cases where they need to maintain high standards or a request would go above budget. But assuming your requests are reasonable, few other models outside pure self-publishing allow you as much control as hybrid publishing.

Hybrid publishing can be combined with other publishing models, including “pure” self-publishing

When you use a hybrid publisher, you’re under no obligation to publish your future books through that same service. Not only do you retain control over your book during hybrid publication, but you also keep the rights to your book and any subsequent titles in its series.

This arrangement gives you choices throughout your publishing career. For example, you could start traditionally or self-publishing your first book, then switch to a hybrid press. Conversely, you can switch hybrid publishers between projects or go the hybrid route for one project but opt for self-publishing for future publications.

You can even bring a previously self-published book to a hybrid press for a fresher print run or vice versa.

When it comes down to it, the value of hybrid publishing to a self-publisher comes down to quality and control. Of course, whether you work with a hybrid publisher will widely depend on your needs, but their existence as an option enriches the pathways you can take in your career as a professional author.

Over to you: If you have experience with hybrid publishing, what value have you gotten from the process? If not, what type of services are you hoping to find while self-publishing?

Elizabeth Javor Outskirts Press

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

Libraries in the Time of Coronavirus—How You Can Help Libraries

Library closed during covid
Image by Queven from Pixabay

Like many physical locations, public libraries were massively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the pandemic’s first year alone (2020), the American Library Association (ALA) reported significant impacts on libraries by the coronavirus.

While the ALA has yet to release a report on year 2 (2021), they’re likely to report many continuations of trends started by the pandemic’s beginning: a mass pivot from in-person services to virtual, a significant increase in library use because of those virtual services, lots of concerns about reopening and reclosing between virus waves, and the turmoil of book banning.

In the face of much strife, supporting libraries is more important than ever. On top of book lending, libraries assist communities by providing education, tech access, literacy, meals for kids, community building, and even vaccine clinics.

If you’re a self-publishing author, you may wonder how you can help libraries. Here are several ways you can do so, whether as an author or a patron of your local library.

Offer copies of your book to libraries, both physical and electronic.

Libraries have varying policies for acquiring books, so do your research to maximize your chances of getting your book into collections. Greenhorn authors will have the best luck reaching out to local libraries due to being regional writers.

If you do submit your physical editions for consideration, make sure your titles are available by a wholesaler. Libraries usually acquire their copies through wholesalers rather than retailers, so they can expand their collections with the least amount of money while still supporting authors and publishers.

Even if you have no luck with a physical copy, digital lending is another trend influenced by the pandemic. If you use an eBook distributor to publish your book to multiple sites, then you likely have the capability to submit your book to eBook lending services such as Overdrive. In addition, with digital books, libraries don’t have to worry about shelf space, so they’re more likely to agree to acquire.

By making your book available to libraries, you can reach more readers who may otherwise not be able to read your book, all while expanding your library’s collection.

Offer to host book events. Libraries love featuring local authors. By offering to do an event, you give the library’s patrons another reason to visit. This is especially doable if you can demonstrate that you can bring in your readers.

A book signing is the most obvious event, but other options exist. For example, if you’re a children’s author, you can host a story time for the library’s youngest patrons. If your book is nonfiction, you can host a class based on your book’s subject. Your novel could become a candidate for a book club. And if you collaborate with other local authors, you could cohost a panel together.

And because of increased tech services, it doesn’t have to be an in-person event: libraries may be willing to host you for a virtual seminar, which allows the possibility to reach even more people.

Support public libraries politically.

Public libraries rely primarily on funding from their local and county governments. Vote in municipal elections to support propositions and referendums that raise library revenue.

Pay attention to your local government’s budgetary proposals and give your feedback so that they opt for funding increases, not budget cuts on libraries. If your local libraries are underfunded, consider even campaigning for increased funding.

Also, stand up for libraries when they’re threatened with book bans and censorship.

Visit libraries and use their services.

Librarians want you to use the library! So, borrow books, attend on-site and online events, take classes, volunteer your time and efforts, buy old copies from book drives, and more.

Libraries are made to be pillars of their communities. By benefiting from a library’s services, you’re fulfilling its purpose. You also demonstrate the library’s benefits in the process, which only contribute to libraries as a lasting institution.

Remember, no matter your status as a writer, the best way to support libraries is through your role as a member of its community.

What is the Maryland Library Ebook Law, and What It Means for Self-Publishing

In February, a federal court issued a preliminary injunction on a first-of-its-kind library eBook law, the Maryland Act, marking a momentary win for the plaintiffs, the Association of American Publishers (AAP).

The injunction follows a hearing where the AAP argued that the Maryland Act would’ve infringed upon publishers’ federal copyright protections, especially the exclusive rights publishers and authors hold under copyright law.

As reported by Publishers Weekly, the Maryland Act had required “that publishers offering eBooks to consumers in the state must also offer to license the works to public libraries on ‘reasonable terms.’”

In other words, if a publisher sold an eBook on Amazon or a similar store, then that publisher would’ve had to offer public libraries the opportunity to lend out electronic copies of their books, or else the publishers would’ve faced penalties, both civil and criminal. Currently, publishers have the discretion to not allow libraries to license their books electronically.

Despite the injunction, Maryland’s attorney general’s office plans to defend the Act in court. The Act was initially passed unanimously by the Maryland General Assembly in 2021 and went into effect on January 1, 2022.

The state argues that the Maryland Act is in the public’s interest, as it aims to support public libraries by addressing “the unfair and discriminatory trade practices of publishers at the expense of public libraries.”

The preliminary injunction signifies that the library eBook law may not stand. When determining if a preliminary injunction should be granted, a judge must evaluate four factors: “a likelihood of success on the merits; irreparable harm; winning the balance of equities; and that the injunction was in the public interest.”

As the court issued the injunction on behalf of the AAP, this suggests that the court likely deems that the law would’ve been harmful to publishers and that the AAP will likely succeed in getting the law struck down. Furthermore, the judge’s formal opinion states that the Maryland Act is probably a violation of federal copyright law.

The ramifications of this case will likely go beyond Maryland. As of late February, eight states have proposed bills similar to the Maryland Act, the latest being Connecticut. New York would’ve been the second state to put its own library eBook law into place if it weren’t for its governor’s veto. At the time, New York Governor Kathy Hochul expressed the AAP’s concern that the law would’ve violated federal copyright law.

So, what does this news mean for self-publishing authors? It depends on whether the law will survive court. As for now, the safest choice is to assume that the status quo will continue. Even if the Maryland Act doesn’t make it to the Supreme Court, a defeat in a lower court may deter other states from proposing and passing similar legislation.

It’s worth it for self-published authors to note that these laws are being proposed because large publishers have been stringent with making their books available electronically to libraries. For instance, Macmillan used to have an embargo on distributing eBooks to public libraries, a decision the publisher has since lifted.

Publishers also often demand high prices for licensing—which libraries find untenable—and they often refuse to negotiate licensing prices while imposing strict restrictions on lending.

Since big publishers license fewer eBooks and electronic copies to public libraries, self-publishers can benefit by seizing this gap. Self-published authors can license their books to public libraries through book distributors, the same services that allow authors to publish their books on multiple storefronts. Even with eBook formats, authors can still earn money when libraries obtain licenses.

On top of making their books available through lending services, self-published authors can also boost their discoverability by including bestselling books that are similar to their own in their book descriptions. This can work out to a small author’s benefit if the bestselling book isn’t available at the library, as the smaller book can still turn up in the library’s search results.

Separate from the legal merits of eBook library laws, large publishers seek to retain control of what eBooks they lend to libraries and how many. In this aspect, self-publishers can fill the gap left by these restrictions.

Why Business People Need to Publish a Book

Why Business People Need to Publish a Book Outskirts Press

Certain professions need to be published. They can go on forever: entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers, journalists, consultants, self-help experts, freelancers, and so on.

Even if your profession is not on this list, read on to evaluate whether publishing a book is right for your job. After all, publishing a book can contribute significantly to your career.

For the typical professional, it’s easier than ever to publish a book. Self-publishing and eBook publishing are both viable. You can release your book without waiting years for publication, keep control of your vision for your book, publish in both physical and digital formats, and retain a larger share of the royalties.

A book can serve as your best form of marketing in any profession, working better than any business card. A piece of paper can be easily thrown away, but a book can remain on your reader’s bookshelf forever.

Any reader who picks up your book becomes a prospective client, attracting attention and increasing your reach and visibility. Your book’s content can also testify to your authority, credibility, and professional expertise. On top of that, it extends your brand by giving you another avenue through which you express and practice your profession.

Finally, a reader-turned-client is more informed about your goods and services, improving the experience for all parties. Of course, any good professional can explain what they do, but having a book do the explaining is neat too.

For another example, take public speaking. If you’re a speaker for a living, you must have a book.

You can publish a book that serves as the companion guide to everything you speak about on stage. It gives you space to expand on topics you cannot discuss at length during your speech, and audience members who buy your book on the way out have another way of expanding on what they learned from what you said.

It’s also smart from the standpoint of marketing. Your speeches will promote your book, and your book, in turn, will open up more speaking gigs: a positive feedback loop!

A book can serve as the linchpin for your online content strategy. If you put in the work, you can increase the opportunity of your book snagging that blue-chip client, sparking word of mouth, or even garnering media attention, reaping you an ongoing stream of new customers. It’s a win-win.

So, how do you sell your book after you publish it? First, consider giving your book a strong presence on LinkedIn. If you’re a professional, you’re likely already using LinkedIn, so why not get more mileage out of a platform you’re already leveraging?

Your book gives you another reason to post regularly on LinkedIn, especially if you’re prone to leaving LinkedIn alone for months at a time. To fuel your posting, you can repurpose content from your book as LinkedIn content. Alongside the standard post, LinkedIn has features to publish an article or create a newsletter. Also, in these various forms, you can include a call to action to check out your book or otherwise begin a conversation with you.

This also applies to other social media platforms. You could even tweet quotes and excerpts on Twitter. You can create short videos for Instagram or microposts for Facebook. You can even launch your own blog or newsletter. The exact platform may vary (as any of these platforms may not exist in a few years), but as a medium, the book will remain.

You can also bundle the book as part of your product, increasing its value for your customer. This is especially effective for digital products, where you can toss in an eBook at no extra cost to you. So while you may give up a potential sale, it’s a worthwhile trade if your main product sells for significantly more than your book’s sale price.

Marketing aside, a book serves as another nifty format for your work, depending on your profession. If you’re a lawyer, you can teach the basics of law without having to sit a prospective client down. If you’re a consultant, a book can be a solid alternative for any client who’s unable to book an appointment with you. The possibilities are endless.

And above all, there’s always the chance that you start writing a book and find publishing to be your calling! As beneficial as the promotional aspect is, a book is also an opportunity to express your thoughts, work, and love of your craft.

Many professional authors start in different professions before making writing their full-time vocation. So now, don’t rush to quit your day job, but do recognize that the act of writing can lead you down a rabbit hole of authoring.

No matter how you’d leverage a book, know that there’s an exciting business world full of books. Will you write the next one?

Over to you: What are some of YOUR favorite examples of professionals who’ve published books? If you’re a professional who’s published a book, how has YOUR book served YOUR career?

Elizabeth Javor Outskirts Press

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

How COVID has made self-publishing even more popular than before

How COVID has made self-publishing even more popular than before. Outskirts Press

Yes, the book industry, in general, is profiting from an explosion of sales. The sudden rise of homebound readers has led to them substituting outdoor activities with books. As a result, while other entertainment industries plummeted, the book industry has rebounded from the initial lockdown dip to levels higher than before!

Self-publishing authors, in particular, have thrived the last two years. The first round of pandemic lockdowns upheaved the job situation of many potential self-publishing writers. The circumstances of these writers varied. Some workers were laid off. Others left their jobs for health or family reasons. Many quit as part of “The Great Resignation.” Countless others remained at their jobs but shifted to a work-at-home environment and filled newfound time by taking up another pursuit, such as book writing.

No matter the reason, a number of aspiring authors faced change during COVID-19 and turned toward self-publishing as an even more desirable career path.

The self-publishing model endured when the pandemic forced most workers out of the office. The self-published author can write, edit, and publish a book—and never have to leave home!

For the self-publishing business, work-at-home is an ideal office. Thanks to modern communication, a self-publishing writer not only can make business calls from home but also engage in Zoom meetings. In the previous century, a manuscript sent by snail mail would’ve taken days, if not weeks. Now, you can also upload a manuscript to a book distribution service within seconds with email and file uploading. Readers can click the “buy” button on your book within minutes. You can even log on to the website of a print-on-demand (POD) distributor and list physical copies without having to negotiate a printing quote.

Work-from-home benefits even extend to the other professionals involved in self-publishing, like editors, proofreaders, and cover design artists. For example, one self-publishing author could assemble an entire team of collaborators that span worldwide without any member ever meeting in person!

The story looks different for the major, traditional publishers. When the pandemic lockdowns began, traditional publishers had to pivot hard to work-at-home. Some publishing houses have yet to return to the office almost two years later. A number of them still feel the pains of switching workplace settings after a decades-long tradition of office work. Other publishing houses had to bend corporate procedures to get work done.

The pandemic also hit the areas where big publishers had an advantage over indie publishers and self-publishers. Even with book sales rising, bookstore sales in 2020 were down compared to the year before because much of the sales surge was from online book sales. Tragically, many indie bookstores closed, like many small businesses that were shuttered by the pandemic.

And as we covered earlier in the blog, the supply chain’s congestion has slowed print book deliveries and frightened large publishers to delay new releases. The supply chain situation has grown only direr since then, with companies unable to ship customers their orders before Christmas. Of course, it doesn’t help that the unpredictability of COVID-19’s variants keeps brick-and-mortar stores on edge.

However, self-publishing authors have been able to fill in the gap left by undelivered physical books through the ebook format. Most self-published books are already digital. For many self-publishers, it was a matter of taking advantage of the rise in ebook sales, with digital sales spiking in 2020, and in 2021 remaining higher than the prepandemic.

Furthermore, the self-publishing author is more adept at adapting to work at home than an organization. As a business of one, a self-publisher can leap over the red tape, starting and finishing projects in months when the same title would take years for a traditional publisher to release.

A self-publishing writer also has some perks over traditionally published authors, such as higher royalty rates and instantaneous publication. Most appealingly, should you decide to go into self-publishing, YOU get to choose what story you create and put out in the world. You don’t have to wait to secure the validation of agents and editors when you can get on a computer and let the readers decide for themselves.

This appeal aligns with the main thrust of The Great Resignation: in the face of catastrophe, many workers have looked at their earlier jobs and decided that their dreams can no longer wait. No wonder lots of workers have decided to pursue their aspirational novel, autobiography, or self-help book by going into self-publishing.

It’s important to remember that for all the benefits self-publishing authors receive, we must still remember the losses from COVID-19. Beyond the closed bookstores and the two years spent indoors, the pandemic has taken a horrendous toll on lives and affected many more people’s health and livelihood.

But if you DO decide to take the plunge and self-publish your book, recognize that you are joining a movement that’s making the best of dire circumstances, sharing stories that will comfort readers during the pandemic, and will hopefully continue to do so post virus.