Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Agent Assisted Publishing v. Hybrid Publishing

I just read an article entitled "What is Hybrid Publishing" on the BookDaily.com email newsletter.  I'm scratching my head as to how they could be so free and easy in distributing misinformation to those seeking their wisdom. In the article, the author's agent couldn't sell her book, so the agent charged the author to "self publish" it for her, calling it Hybrid Publishing. No. I have seen so many agents entering the market lately, I just have to speak!

What IS Hybrid Publishing? 

The term "Hybrid Publishing" has been around for a long, long time. Hybrid publishing is not DIY in your basement with a program you've never even heard of. It's not vanity. It's not subsidy. It's not POD. It's not just uploading it to Amazon. It's not having someone that worked in one area of traditional publishing helping you self publish. Hybrid publishing takes the best techniques and materials available for the given objective to build a better product and stronger platform. It requires professional publishing navigation, book shepherding, coaching, author services. Hybrid, just like in horticulture, is a selection process used for greater growth, a better yield, faster production, and protection from pests.  I think the correlation fits darn well.

My first exposure to it was in 1993 at Publishers Marketing Association (now called Independent Book Publishers Association and I highly recommend it - www.ibpa-online.org) Publishing University -- and it seems that it was gaining respect and exposure even then. I didn't make it up, but that is what I call our publishing model here, and what should be done for every book -- that is publishing it in whatever manner is BEST for that book and that author.

Agent-Assisted Publishing is Dangerous

The traditional publishing model is no longer the norm, and underutilized (or unemployed) Agents are jumping on the bandwagon to assist authors who wish to publish their own work. Agent-assisted publishing is a scary thing and I keep seeing it pop up calling it Hybrid Publishing. I see lots of problems with this -- not the least of which agents don't usually know the sheer volume of tasks required because they have never done any of them. Just because they sold a title to Publisher A doesn't mean they have a clue how to actually publish a book. Just like when you buy a dress from a department store, the sales clerk has no idea how it was put together or what all went into it. Their job is sales. The agent's job is sales. They sell your intellectual property to a publisher, ideally. The agent doesn't do the editing, designing, setting up the publishing accounts, hiring an illustrator, finding an indexer, signing you up for distribution -- let alone setting up a book signing or publicizing. That's just not their job. Their job is to sell you to a publishing house domestically or beyond, or to a movie studio, or to some other type of entity.

Word of Wisdom:
Ask a lot of questions before entering into any agreement to publish with an Agent -- starting with have they done the process from A to Z more than that one time for their Grandma Edna's cookbook.  And to the sales clerks out there -- don't try to sell yourself as Diane Von Furstenberg just because you sold a wrap dress at Nordstroms.

End of Rant.  :)