Until recently you were stuck with only two options when it came to getting your novel published: traditional publishing, or self-publishing. Now there's a third option: hybrid publishing. What is it, and is it for you? Read on to find out.

Hybrid publishing is a mixture of traditional publishing and self-publishing. This works in different ways:

  • You can do hybrid publishing as I did recently with a non-fiction book. I sold the print rights to the publisher, but kept the electronic rights. They requested that I not sell the e-book for three months after their own print publication date, to give them a good bite of the cherry, and I agreed to this. I also make sure to promote the print version as much as the e-book, in order to play fair with them. I do get royalties, of course, from the print version's sales, but not nearly as much as from e-books. But I wouldn't have written the book at all if they hadn't asked me to, so I am very aware of making sure they do well out of it all too.

    One issue if you go this route is that you'll have to agree with the publisher about the cover of the e-book. Will they let you use the cover they design? Will they charge you for it? Or will they expect you to get your own cover?

  • Or, another way hybrid publishing can work is that you can self-publish first and use the good sales of that to prove to the publisher that there is a market for that book. Indeed, if you sell well enough as a self-publisher then the traditional publishers will approach you, as happened so famously with E.L. James.

  • Or, use self-publishing to build up a following of your brand as an author, and then bring that to the traditional publishing houses. You could do this by publishing, for free or low cost, some novels, novellas, or short stories.

  • Or, as I am doing with three of my novels, go with a traditional publisher first, and then when they are out of print and the rights revert to you (or whenever the rights revert as per your contract), then self-publish them. In this way you're using the following you made as a traditionally published author to leverage your own self-publishing.

  • Or, use your proven sales record to get a meeting with the national or regional distributors, and get your books into shops yourself. Distribution is the biggest challenge when it comes to self-publishing, and a good track record will help with that.

The whole publishing industry is in a state of flux at the moment, so who knows how it will end, but I wouldn't be surprised if we see more and more hybrid publishing going forward.