Understanding the Three Basic Publishing Models
This year Warren Publishing celebrates thirty years of hybrid publishing. Most people aren't aware of the differences between traditional, hybrid, and self-publishing and how each model benefits the author? So, here’s a quick breakdown!
Think of your big five publishing houses––Random House, Simon and Schuster, etc.? Most traditional publishers require a formal submission from a literary agent who typically takes a percentage your advance and sometimes also a part of your royalties. Should a publisher choose to accept a manuscript, they acquire its rights (or ownership). At this point, they may or may not offer an advance payment to the author. Despite popular misconception, advances are typically only a few thousand dollars at most. While dreamy six-figure advances are not unheard of, they are extremely unlikely. In fact, it’s becoming more common for publishers to not offer advances at all, or to delay payment until a certain sales value has been reached.
When it comes to royalty payments – less than 5% is typical. Many new authors’ jaws drop as I inform them at this point, that average book sales for all books – traditional, self, or hybrid – is only 250 copies.
Lastly, in terms of editing and marketing, traditional publishers have full control. Some first-time authors may be surprised if their editor changes their book’s direction, but the publisher does “own” their book, after all. And while some publishers may ask for input for your cover, their word is final. While it’s not guaranteed that your title will sit at the front of every Barnes and Noble in the country, it certainly could. (Keep in mind, publishers pay big money for those positions––popularity can be purchased.)
Though once heavily-stigmatized, self-publishing has recently grown in popularity, particularly with companies such as Amazon and Penguin offering their own services. Self-publishing is exactly what it sounds like; a self-published author is their own publisher and is responsible for securing and financing their own editing, design, marketing, and production. While this does have some great benefits to the author – 100% royalties and full creative control – it also opens the author up to a greater number of risks. For example:
That brings us to the hybrid model – a cross between traditional and self-publishing. As with self-publishing, hybrid publishing requires a monetary investment, however, authors maintain 100% of rights and also have input into their editing, design, and marketing. A hybrid publisher ensures the final book is as polished and professional as possible. Not to be confused with “vanity publishing,” many hybrids will not accept just any manuscript. (At Warren, our acceptance rate is less than 20%.)
In a hybrid model, royalties are split between author and publisher. Warren Publishing authors receive anywhere from 100% (if sold from the author’s personal book inventory), to 50% (if sold in a retail avenue). Hybrid publishers provide professional editing and design services, and most will provide some level of marketing support.
At Warren, we describe ourselves as publishing “partners.” It’s our goal to create books that meet or exceed our authors’ visions while positioning them to thrive in the marketplace. Our marketing efforts are custom-tailored to each book and we encourage our authors to help spread the word. Sales for our authors have ranged anywhere from several hundred books to hundreds of thousands, and Warren books can be found across the country and overseas.
These are the very basics but we are always happy to chat with aspiring authors. If you are thinking about getting your book published or just considering your options, give us a call. We’d be happy to answer your questions.