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View Full Version : Article on "hybrid publishing" seems to be trying to shift the ground



Fuchsia Groan
04-10-2015, 11:23 PM
I was just curious to know if anyone read this Huff Po piece (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brooke-warner/hybrid-publishing-getting-a-handle-on-the-new-middle-ground_b_7018106.html). I found certain points disconcerting, and potentially misleading, but I don't have the inside knowledge of publishing to refute them.

In my prior understanding, there are no "hybrid publishers," only hybrid authors (both trade and self-published), or trade publishers that own subsidy presses. But author Brooke Warner asserts that there are "[t]raditional publishers who've been brokering hybrid deals for years." She also refers to "a false dichotomy in the marketplace that there are those who pay to publish and those who get paid to publish. The truth is much blurrier than that."

Now, clearly Warner has a dog in this fight. She owns She Writes Press, which charges authors substantial up-front fees for publication, and has defended that practice elsewhere.

So why don't I just dismiss this? First, because I've had problems trying to decide how to approach books from SWP. As a reviewer, I've received three and read one, assigning freelancers to review the others for our paper. They're definitely not your average subsidy-published books, and I tend to believe Warner when she says she curates her list and is carving out a market niche. Overall, the quality seems high.

And yet, I'm not happy with the deal such a publisher is offering to writers. It makes me, as a journalist, look askance at the books in a way I wouldn't otherwise.

Perhaps Warner wrote this piece (and similar ones) to counter such skepticism, but I have to say it's not working on me yet. I'm not convinced that a $4900 publishing package (noninclusive of developmental or copy editing) is a better option than putting together one's own self-publishing plan.

I also wonder about the potential for abuse — i.e., it seems like there's a lot of incentive for such a "partnership publisher" not to curate its list so carefully, for the same reason I'd never accept money from authors to review their books.

For the record, SWP claims to have solid distribution. From the website: "We have a whole team of reps who go out into the marketplace to sell books, not just to the big accounts (Amazon, B&N), but also to independent bookstores, libraries, online retailers, and specialty markets."

While I'd like to approach all books on their own merits, a busy reviewer has to do triage; the name on the spine matters. So far I've given books from SWP the benefit of the doubt, but I still firmly believe that money should flow toward the author, and that the whole purpose of gatekeeping and "curation" is to make that possible. What do others think?

Jamesaritchie
04-11-2015, 12:35 AM
I've been hearing this same kind of nonsense for so many years that I can't even remember when it started. It's nothing new, and as far as I'm concerned, it's one more way of someone taking money from writers, rather than giving money to writers.

I'm not at all sure what reviews and the name on the spine has to do with this? Just about every famous name out there that matters on the spine started out as a no-name writer reviewers didn't care about.

Reviewers are not the people who make bestselling writers. Readers are the ones who do this. Always have, always will. Every bestselling writer out these did just fine with no one having a clue who they were in the beginning.

Warner doesn't just have a dog in the fight, she has a hungry dog that will eat every writer it finds. She doesn't believe the books writers bring to her are good enough to earn the money she wants, or she wouldn't be charging writers a penny.

Nothing new about this at all, in any way. It's same old, same old give me your money BS.

Fuchsia Groan
04-11-2015, 01:29 AM
I'm a reviewer as well as a writer, so that's the perspective from which I approach it.

Reviews may not mean diddly-squat to a book's success, but for whatever reason, I still receive dozens and dozens of ARCs and many more emailed pleas from writers every year. I could toss away all the ones that aren't from Big Five publishers, but I choose to give them consideration instead. If authors all agreed with you that reviews were meaningless, I'd have an easier job and a ton less correspondence to deal with.

JustSarah
04-14-2015, 07:24 AM
Author who both self-pub and go the trade route on other books is a hybrid by reason they are the publisher of their book.^^

cmhbob
04-14-2015, 07:43 AM
No mention at all of Booktrope, which I think is a better model for hybrid publishing. BT accepts your book, then you assemble a book team from their collection of professionals (editors, cover artists, and marketers). No one pays anything up front. They only get paid once the book sells. BT gets 30%, and the creative team splits the other 70%.

http://booktrope.com/booktrope-publishing/financials/

(Yes, I've submitted one of my books to Booktrope. No response yet.)

juniper
04-14-2015, 09:16 PM
No one pays anything up front. They only get paid once the book sells. BT gets 30%, and the creative team splits the other 70%.


What does % does the author get?

mrsmig
04-14-2015, 09:39 PM
According to the link, they get 33% of the 70% that is shared among the creative team.

ShaunHorton
04-14-2015, 09:51 PM
So the onus is on you to be thorough, do your homework, and choose wisely.

The real key statement.

Doing your homework on the author of this piece shows that while her company may put out some good work, all this "article" boils down to is trying to co-opt the term 'hybrid' as opposed to admitting she's running a vanity press and avoiding the stigma that term already carries.

Fuchsia Groan
04-15-2015, 08:15 AM
I agree she's co-opting the term, which has been used until now to refer to authors.

What of her insinuation that trade publishers are making so-called "hybrid" deals under the table? I would have ignored this, but recently someone told me about an author with a respected small press who had to pay for her own editing (that is, the press outsourced the editing at her expense). Are situations like this as common as Warner implies? Or is she using a few nontypical, reprehensible examples to support her argument that, since you'll pay to publish no matter what, you might as well do so with her?

It's so different from everything I've read here -- and what I've personally experienced in publishing so far -- that I hope people aren't getting their impressions of the industry from pieces like this. But I do hear from a lot of writers who self-published because they read somewhere that that was the first step to getting an agent and a trade deal. So misinformation matters.

Booktrope sounds interesting.

The Otter
04-15-2015, 08:42 AM
What of her insinuation that trade publishers are making so-called "hybrid" deals under the table? I would have ignored this, but recently someone told me about an author with a respected small press who had to pay for her own editing (that is, the press outsourced the editing at her expense). Are situations like this as common as Warner implies? Or is she using a few nontypical, reprehensible examples to support her argument that, since you'll pay to publish no matter what, you might as well do so with her?

I don't believe that any respectable small press would do this...and if some do, they shouldn't. Personally, I would not sign a contract with any publisher that asked me to pay for my own editing.

I've published through a number of small, predominantly electronic publishers, and none of them ever asked me to pay a dime for editing or anything else; they had people in house that did that.

Fuchsia Groan
04-15-2015, 09:36 PM
I don't believe that any respectable small press would do this...and if some do, they shouldn't. Personally, I would not sign a contract with any publisher that asked me to pay for my own editing.


Agreed, and I hope the case I heard about was rare or that I was misinformed. But it troubles me to see that presented as the norm.

My feeling is, if you're a content provider of any kind or size and you want someone's content, you should provide the editing, or outsource it to freelancers you have vetted and pay them. I wouldn't trust an editor I hadn't vetted to produce the final product I needed.

Weirdmage
04-16-2015, 01:01 AM
As I understand it, Hybrid means an author who publishes both in trade (i.e. with a publishers) and self-publishes at the same time. Chuck Wendig is probably the best example. And I'm not sure he came up with the term "Hybrid Author", but he has been championing it.

When it comes to publishers, the usual term for a publisher who makes their authors pay for anything is vanity publisher. There's also profit-sharing, for publishers who do not pay the traditional royalties on cover price. (But it can get complicated in that instance, mostly because of "Hollywood accounting".)

When it comes to the reviewing thing. I am on hiatus from my own review blog at the moment. But I have gotten a LOT of requests from a lot of people. You have to curate because of time. I see no problem in not reviewing (, and even reading,) books from dubious presses.

ShaunHorton
04-16-2015, 01:35 AM
The author of the "article" continues in the comments.

Honestly, this is actually worse than vanity, because if I'm reading this correctly, they're charging up-front AND they're taking some of the royalties.

So, SheWritesPress charges $4,900 up front for their package (the only way to get cover art through them, I might add. Separately, manuscript assessment is billed at $60/hour, copyediting is a further $60/hour and proofreading is $45/hour. On top of that, the author gets 70% of NET on books and 80% NET on ebooks.

Makes me sick...