The Independent Book Publishers Association has updated its Hybrid Publisher Criteria. First introduced in 2018, the checklist’s objective, the IBPA says, is to “bring uniformity to the task of defining reputable hybrid publishers, distinct from being traditional publishers or self-publishing services providers.”
“At minimum, reputable hybrid publishers can easily check off all 11 points in the revised criteria,” said Brooke Warner, publisher at She Writes Press, and a co-author of the original Hybrid Publisher Criteria as well as a contributor to the revision. “Some hybrid publishers do more than the minimum, but IBPA’s goal with this project is to define reputable hybrid publishers as those who adhere to these 11 common denominators in their publishing practices.”
IBPA CEO Angela Bole pointed to the introduction of the new document when asked why an updated was needed. The introduction reads in part: “ For the avoidance of doubt, this means organizations that do not adhere to the entirety of IBPA’s Hybrid Publisher Criteria—or adhere to most, but not all of the criteria—are not hybrid publishers as IBPA would define them, and should not be calling themselves “hybrid.” These organizations are better categorized as self-publishing service providers. In a self-publishing service provider/author relationship, it is the author who plays the publisher role.”
The introduction continues: “Self-publishing service providers mislabeling themselves as hybrid publishers, whether knowingly or unknowingly, are contributing to the confusion and exploitation of authors and are rightly called out for doing so.”
The revisions contain two new points found below.
Commit to truth and transparency in business practices. It should go without saying, but like any reputable business, a hybrid publisher must commit to transparency in its business practices. This includes being clear about the cost of services and providing an honest estimation of each book’s potential for success. A hybrid publisher is also fair and transparent in its financial dealings, writes contracts in understandable language, and resolves any disputes promptly and fairly. A hybrid publisher never misleads potential authors with false promises, inflated sales data, or manipulated reviews.
Provide a negotiable, easy-to-understand contract for each book published. A hybrid publisher supplies a clear, negotiable contract at the start of every negotiation which sets out—in understandable language—the exact scope of the arrangement, including term limits and compensation. All contracts should include regular reviews and updates as needed. Include a clear rights-reversion clause in every contract. A hybrid publisher should be clear that it welcomes potential authors to discuss the proposed contract with neutral third-party advisors, such as a legal advisor or authors guild.
The full Hybrid Publisher Criteria list of practices are below and more details are available at https://www.ibpa-online.org/page/hybrid-publisher-criteria-download.
- Define a mission and vision for its publishing program.
- Vet submissions.
- Commit to truth and transparency in business practices.
- Provide a negotiable, easy-to-understand contract for each book published.
- Publish under its own imprint(s) and ISBNs.
- Publish to industry standards
- Ensure editorial, design, and production quality.
- Pursue and manage a range of publishing rights.
- Provide distribution services.
- Demonstrate respectable sales.
- Pay authors a higher-than-standard royalty.