Spiralling Downwards

E-book sales surged in the UK following the Covid-19 outbreak in January 2020, and the subsequent lockdown in March, which led to many people staying at home, and encouraging them to turn to digital books. With book shops closed and libraries becoming harder to access, and significant delays snowballing in the release and distribution of the print versions of books, digital books have remained easier to access, and are of course cheaper.

The trend looks set to continue after the outbreak affected the traditional publishing houses, not least because of laid-off and furloughed staff, and the end could well be in sight for the majority of traditional publishers as they become predominantly run by imprints that favour Indie and self-published authors.

Traditional publishing is considered prestigious, difficult, long, and lucrative for a rare few. You first need to write a proposal and start pitching agents. Once you find an agent who takes you on board, they will start working to sell your book to a traditional publishing house. The whole process, from the moment you find an agent to the moment your book comes out, can take about two and a half years. Remember that you still need to write your book and you might have to pitch more than 100 agents before you ever get a reply.

Anybody can publish a book. For instance, you can get your book on Amazon through Kindle Direct Publishing. The beautiful thing about self-publishing is that there are no gatekeepers and the market becomes the ultimate judge. Most self-published books fail miserably due to the authors’ lack of publishing and marketing knowledge, but those who do win, win big, taking home all the royalties. Even then, one drawback remains. You are limited to Amazon and independent book stores and do not have access to a traditional publisher’s immense distribution network, which can get your book into bookstores around every corner.

Go Hybrid?

Many publishers call themselves a hybrid, so let’s get the definition right: Hybrid Press or Hybrid Publishers operate with a different revenue model than traditional publishing, and give you the creative freedom you’d have when you self-publish, as well as a team of professionals who take care of your book production and have a distribution agreement with one of the large traditional publishers, which allows you to get the same placement in bookstores as you would with a traditional publisher.

Going hybrid is faster than traditional publishing because you completely omit the agent-pitching phase. The only time constraint is getting your book into the catalog months ahead of launch so that your book can be pitched by reps to retail, along with all the other traditional books coming out that publishing season.

The whole process, from idea to launch (including ghostwriting if that’s for you), takes less than a year. You maintain a high share of royalties and have a professional team working on your release. That said, the one drawback is that hybrid publishing comes with an upfront investment on your end. But with any good investment, the return on a well-executed book can be worth it for your business.

Photo by @felipepelaquim on Unsplash

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