Meeting Hybrid Publisher Criteria

The Independent Book Publishers Association recently released updated criteria for defining reputable hybrid publishers, with a stress that ALL requirements apply. Examples and details are provided for each requirement. Let’s see how Somewhat Grumpy Press meets these requirements.

Close-up photo of a contract being signed with a fountain pen. Contract consists of Lorem Ipsum text.
Derived from a photo by Michal Jarmoluk on Pixnio

Define a mission and vision for its publishing program.

As the About page says, we offer à la carte services for authors, and our publishing goal is “to become a reputable publisher of entertaining and enlightening fiction and non-fiction.” That’s admittedly broad, but we want to allow authors to choose how much assistance they want, and we don’t want to exclude a work simply because of its genre. We’re interested in anything we deem entertaining and enlightening.

Vet submissions.

We require submissions to be edited and will not necessarily publish everything submitted.

Commit to truth and transparency in business practices.

This posting is an example of transparency. As for truth, we tell authors that the chances of a new author’s first book breaking even are low. That’s a truth that hurts, but it applies everywhere in publishing. According to Penguin Random House, only one-third of their books are profitable.

Provide a negotiable, easy-to-understand contract for each book published.

Our terms are simple and you never give up your rights to the work. You grant us a non-exclusive right to publish.

Publish under its own imprint(s) and ISBNs.

Yes. All books have a Canadian ISBN from Somewhat Grumpy Press Inc. If you need an ISBN for a version you are publishing elsewhere, like an audiobook, we can get that for you (no extra charge).

Publish to industry standards.

Yes. We print and distribute using IngramSpark, and use either their layout and design tools, or external tools. Read more about industry standards.

Ensure editorial, design, and production quality.

The main concern here is editing. Our books are edited in-house, or by editors the authors have selected and that meet our standards. Does this mean no typos? Sadly, no, but our books have been accepted for sale by all online services, several independent bookstores, and multiple branches of chain bookstores.

Pursue and manage a range of publishing rights.

Depending on the author’s wishes, we publish paperback, eBook, or both. Distribution countries, and options such as hardcover editions, also depend on the author’s wishes. Our publishing right is not exclusive, and all other rights remain with the author. We are looking into audiobook production and distribution, and translation services. We also offer merchandise, and revenue share merchandise sales of items related to specific books.

Provide distribution services.

The guidelines note that simply uploading a book to online services does not meet this requirement, and that each book requires a marketing strategy. In addition to online services, we sell books directly and work with independent and chain bookstores. Our marketing strategies are informal, but are specific to each book. For example, review copies are sent to different reviewers and different book contests entered depending on the title, subject, and author. Advertising themes, venues, and timing are also specific to each book.

Demonstrate respectable sales.

Respectable sales is relative. For first books from an independent press, our numbers are respectable. Keep in mind that less than one percent of books published sell more than 5000 copies.

Pay authors a higher-than-standard royalty.

Industry royalty rates vary, but a good hybrid publisher should pay at least 50% net on print and eBooks. We pay considerably more than that after all, we covered our costs and made a little money when you paid for our services (that’s us being transparent).


Don’t sign a contract with a publisher or author service until you know all the terms and conditions. These criteria cover various aspects of publishing arrangements. If your publisher doesn’t say what they do for these aspects (and with your money, if you are paying them), ask them. If you have any questions about our services, please contact us.

By trc

Freelance writer, freelance editor, web consultant, and film studies scholar.

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