If you’re in the indie-publishing loop, you’ve no doubt heard about the demise of a well-known “hybrid publisher” and read about a few of the far-reaching effects of its implosion, including but not limited to the greater loss of faith in “hybrid publishing.” This is not the first time such a catastrophe has occurred, and it won’t be the last. Many authors who were working with the company are now unsure where to turn and how to achieve their goals. Our hearts go out to them. However, there are precautions authors can take to avoid finding themselves in the same predicament.
What authors need to understand before we go further is that there really is no such thing as a “hybrid publisher” or a “self-publishing company.” These are fabrications. Either your book is self-published, or it’s not. Simple as that. True self-publishing means the author is the publisher; therefore, the author bears all costs associated with the production, publication, and distribution of their book. Additionally, the author keeps ALL rights to their work and ALL the net revenue from sales. Authors may hire help, which is highly recommended, but at the end of the day, it’s the author’s name on the ISBN, and they have complete control over their work and what happens to it.
When authors entrust their books to a reputable traditional publisher–assuming they are accepted by one after months to years of querying–they can usually trust that their book will be professionally produced. The traditional publisher will hire experts to prepare the book for market and handle all aspects of production. To recover the cost of production, the publisher keeps most of the revenue from book sales and pays the author royalties. Traditional publishers may claim some or all rights to a work, for which they may or may not pay an advance upon their acceptance of the manuscript.
Now, back to so-called “hybrid publishers” and “self-publishing companies.” Whereas traditional publishers don’t charge authors to produce and publish their work, these other companies charge authors to produce their books in addition to keeping some of the revenue from sales and some or all rights to the authors’ work. They also own the design files the authors paid them to create. Many of these companies have disappeared with the files without even paying the promised royalties.
What really entitles these companies to dip into authors’ earnings?
The answer in most cases: Nothing.
Why should authors pay for a company to prepare and publish their work on top of surrendering part of their revenue and their rights to that company? Legitimate companies would pay authors for the rights granted in the contract.
The potential for profit is much higher through self-publishing than other methods. Furthermore, with true self-publishing, there is no risk of finding oneself in publishing limbo because a publisher abruptly goes out of business. Authors who have been rattled by the collapse of these companies are right to reconsider their path, but for those still considering the “hybrid” route to publishing, you should ask yourselves these questions:
- How is your royalty calculated? This formula is rarely revealed, but many who do report it mark up the printing cost so the publisher earns more per copy sold than the author.
- Who owns the ISBN? If it’s not under your name, you don’t own it, and you are not the publisher. When the book sells, whoever owns the ISBN will receive the sales reports and payments.
As we’ve said in previous blog posts, the best way to avoid being taken advantage of is to conduct sound research. Learn as much as you can about the publishing industry and the services you need, and take the time to investigate any service before you use it. Of course, if you truly want to protect your work and your rights to it, you should self-publish. That doesn’t mean that you have to walk the road alone. You can receive the assistance you need while retaining control of your book and files by working with an author services company like 1106 Design or others. Companies like ours facilitate book creation and distribution setup without taking any of your sales revenue, rights, or “owning” the files that are rightfully yours. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you succeed.