What is a Traditional Publisher? How is it Different than a Hybrid Publisher?
The most well-known publishing option is working with a traditional publisher or publishing house. As the name implies, traditional publishers are how most books have been published for decades. You pitch your book idea to the publisher, they usually give you an advance on your book, and once your manuscript is complete, they handle all the logistics of the publishing and bring your book to the market.
Let’s go over the pros and cons of traditional publishing
Pros of traditional publishing
- Bookstore distribution is practically guaranteed. Most traditional publishers have relationships with multiple physical book stores and are able to get your book on their physical shelves, not just virtual. Your odds of selling your book can increase when it is carried in more bookstores. Depending on the size of the publisher and their connections, your book may be sold nationwide or in retail chains across a state.
- Publishing with big name publishers grants new authors credibility and prestige. If you publish with one of the big five publishers, such as Penguin Random House, you gain recognition and credibility as a talented author because Penguin Random House has published your book. The brand recognition helps carry your name in the publishing world, especially for first time authors. However, this is not a guarantee of sales of your book.
- Best chance to receive mainstream media coverage of your book. With the brand recognition that traditional publishers carry, they also carry connections to media outlets that they use to promote and sell your book. Depending on how big a publishing company is, determines how likely your book is to appear on mainstream media and on what platforms.
- Publisher carry all of the risk. The publisher is the one who shoulders all of the risk whether your book is successful or not. Since you are not paying the publisher to help you publish your book there is no loss if your book doesn’t sell well. You aren’t monetarily investing in your book so you aren’t losing any money if your book doesn’t sell well.
Cons of traditional publishing
- Very low royalties. The greatest con of traditional publishing is the royalty percentages. You typically receive around 10% from each book sold, and the publisher keeps the other 90% of the profits. If your book sells for $15 you only receive $1.5 per book. For a hundred books sold that’s only $150. If making a profit from your book is part of your motivation for writing and publishing your book, then you need to think carefully before signing on with a traditional publisher.
- Author receives an advance. This may seem like it should be in the pros section but an advance is something that you have to pay back. If the publisher gives you $2500 in order to finish your manuscript, you have to pay that $2500 back in royalties before you see any profit in your bank account. If your book doesn’t sell well and doesn’t connect with the audience then you might not see any profit from your book because of the advance.
- Highly selective process, usually requires an agent. Traditional publishers consider what books they want to publish based on their audience and if a book will make a profit. It’s similar to a highly selective job interview, if your resume isn’t good enough they won’t consider you. This is where an agent comes in. They will do the leg work of contacting and pitching the initial idea of your book to publishers and be the middle-person between you and a publisher. They will negotiate on your behalf with a publisher giving you more of a voice when creating a contract. The downside is that you also have to pay your agent, typically a portion of your advance or part of the minimal amount of royalties you receive.
- Per contract, publisher usually has the rights to your book. This varies depending on the contract, but your book idea is in the hands of the publisher. They will make all the decisions about what your book looks like, formatting, cover design, and even some of the content. The publishing company makes the final decisions about every part of your book. You must remember that they are trying to sell your book to their audience. Not your book to your audience. These two often don’t align.
Difference between traditional and hybrid publishing
There are a couple of important distinctions between traditional and hybrid publishing.
- While you only receive a small portion of the royalties with a traditional publisher you receive a significantly greater portion with a hybrid publishing company. This is because a traditional publisher handles all publishing and marketing tasks for you. Working with a hybrid publisher, you pay them for their expertise and services and they help guide you through the publishing process. With a traditional deal you may receive anywhere between 10% – 15% per book sold. This is also after paying back the advance if the traditional publisher offers one. Compared to a hybrid publishing company which will net you anywhere between 50% – 75% per book sold. If your book sells at a bookstore for $15, a traditional publisher will net you $1.5 – $ 2.25 per book compared to $7.5 – $11.25 per book. *This doesn’t factor in printing costs, which skew these numbers a bit.
At PYP we pay our authors 85% of their royalties.
- With a hybrid publishing company you keep full rights to your book and have the final say over every part of your book. The publisher will actively work with you through the publishing process. Coaching, providing support, and working within the parameters that you define for the publisher. Compared with a traditional publisher, who will make decisions they feel are in the best interest of the company and turning a profit on your book. Not all Hybrid publishers create true partnerships with their authors, so be selective and do the homework by interviewing previous authors they’ve worked with.
- Since a traditional publisher has brand recognition and is a larger company than a hybrid publisher, they have more avenues to advertise and publicize your book. They handle all of the leg work in promoting your book. Working with a hybrid publisher, you have to do most of the legwork in marketing your book and getting people hyped that your book is either coming out or is already out. They will work with you and give you the resources and connections that you need in order to have a successful book. PYP really focuses on the marketing strategy of your book to ensure we are doing everything we can to support you and ensure that your book is a profitable part of your business.
- Similar to a traditional publisher, a hybrid publisher also has a vetting process. They will not take any book idea that is emailed to them. If they do accept just any manuscript submitted that is typically a red flag. The hybrid publisher will see if your book idea matches with their values and their process before accepting or rejecting your book. The difference is that some hybrid publishers are willing to take on “riskier” book ideas that are not as widely talked about in the industry. A traditional publisher will usually only take in book ideas that meet their strict criteria, what they can promote, and sell to their audience.
If you’ve thought about working with a hybrid publisher, Publish Your Purpose (PYP) is a hybrid publishing company. If you would like to learn more about the services that we offer click here or contact us here!