Just recently there was a Moneybox feature on BBC Radio 4 about self-publishing and the one thing that concerned us was the number of people who are being misled by what many are calling “hybrid publishers”. There appears to be companies within the UK who are falsely promising authors success and taking their money to produce and publish their book. Often it seems they are also taking the rights away from the authors, introducing contracts and then, if the book does not sell, the author is left high and dry with nothing.
At Riverside Publishing Solutions, we have often referred ourselves as a “hybrid publisher”, however, based on what there is out there, I think perhaps we are more like a hybrid “hybrid publisher”, let me explain…
It appears a lot of Hybrid Publishers have been set up as an alternative to conventional publishing, often by individuals from other publishing houses, but Riverside Publishing Solutions have evolved from providing prepress and printing services to publishers. Our original business model was to provide these services to established publishers which we still do to this day, however, more and more we have been approached by individuals who wish to publish a book as a self-published author. The term “self published” should be just that and we consider every author who comes to us as an individual publisher. In that respect, we are effectively a service provider, but what we can do beyond these services is to provide much more. For instance, as an individual author it is almost impossible to find a distribution channel to sell books to a wider audience and to be available to book sellers. Due to the large amount of books we work on, we have our own distribution network and under our imprint, any book is available to be purchased in book shops and websites globally.
The difference between Riverside Publishing Solutions and many of the other “hybrid publishers” is that we do not work with contracts and every author retains the rights to their work. We only have terms and conditions for books we sell via our distribution network or our own website. Therefore, if an author decided to take a conventional publishing route at a later date, that is purely their choice. Also, being that the prepress and print is paid for by the author, any books the author sells by their own means is 100% profit for them and books we may stock can be collected at any time as they belong to the author, not us. Many other companies would force the author to buy back their own books.
One of the first questions we always ask potential customers is “What do you hope to achieve from publishing your book?”. This is very important and must be answered honestly. Fortunately, almost all of our customers are realistic and there are many viable reasons why an author may choose to self-publish, below are some examples:
- I have written a book as I like to write and I am not looking to be a best-seller, I just want a small amount of books for family and friends (often referred to as “Vanity Publishing” and some do not wish to even officially publish with an ISBN number)
- I have written a book to support my main business (Usually coaching or reference material for a business)
- I have several books already published and self-publishing means I have more control and profit
- I already have a market lined up and would only expect to sell a relatively small quantity (an example of this would be a memoir from somebody who served in the military who often have no problem selling amongst colleagues in the forces)
- I wish to self-publish to attract conventional publishers on future titles (this has happened on a few occasions)
- I have had this manuscript sitting around for a long time and I just want to do something with it
- The book is time sensitive and I cannot wait for the time it takes to be published
- If just one person gains from my experience, I will be happy
The above are just some common examples of why an author may wish to self-publish but it does show how conventional publishing is not for everyone.
One thing every author should consider if not already an established author or well-known, and hoping to sell to the wider public, is how the book will be marketed. Even an amazing novel will not be seen unless people know about it, and to achieve this is no easy task. We feel the number one element of selling a book, is the author. There are plenty of marketing specialists available, some may mislead an author into thinking they will sell lots of books and take large sums of money, however, if the author is not known to the wider public, the best way to start is to be involved as much as possible. Angie Langley has had great success in selling her books at fêtes and country shows or Christmas markets, her love of meeting people, her personality and telling her story is what sells her books. Some of the most successful self-published authors have started from nothing other than great stories, take for example LJ Ross (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-58305836). I may as well mention that we provide Dark Skies Publishing with our typesetting services for these books.
As mentioned in the previous list, one of the biggest reason to self-publish is to support your career. Books are a good way to provide additional information to clients, particularly if offering services like coaching or education, we have worked with football coaches, healing professionals and life-style gurus. We have also produced books for musicians; gone are the days when CDs are handed out at the end of a gig so why not instead offer a signed copy of your book? fans often jump to the chance and will pay good money.
I hope to have helped in explaining what we at Riverside Publishing Solutions actually refer to when we say “Hybrid Publishing”. It doesn’t have to be a scary term and at all times during the process of producing a book, the author has full control and is solely in charge of the decision making, with the advantage of our experience to guide along the way.
If anybody reading this would like to know more, please do get in touch. One of the most wonderful things of being in this business is hearing the stories and meeting the people who take tie to write a book.