BookBaby mailbag: Clarifying the notion of hybrid publishing

bookbaby mailbag

In this month’s installment of the BookBaby mailbag: Some notes and questions on hybrid publishing and kudos for BookBaby Publishing Specialist Mike Taylor.

hybrid publishing questions
As I’ve received lots of comments on our new BookBaby guide, the Hybrid Author Game Plan, I thought it might be helpful to clarify a couple of misconceptions about how hybrid publishing might work in practice for our authors. I also wanted to take a minute to call out one of our Publishing Specialists for his work on a recent BookBaby print on demand book.

Jeffrey H. wrote:

“Read your article, but I think it is somewhat misleading if one is trying to submit to magazines, and journals and publications—be it short stories, poetry, whatever. These publications typically demand unpublished manuscripts—they do not want to even consider something that is already out there. So the question of whether to hold back your writing or just get it out there in a self-published format becomes more complicated.”

You’re spot on correct about the use of the same content. My thought about the “hybrid” nature of publishing is to use different content in each publishing path. We have a non-fiction writer, for instance, who publishes traditionally. But for her short stories, poems and romance stories, she self publishes through BookBaby. My point was that you don’t have to choose one OR the other for your entire body of work.

I think putting your material out in the marketplace – well written, well edited of course – is almost always a good thing. Thanks, Jeffrey. Don’t hold back!

Tony C. wrote:

“Regarding your Hybrid summations: My manuscript is sitting with a publisher and I’ll have their yes or no within a couple of weeks. I’ve read a few articles published by BookBaby and liked what I read. Re. the publisher looking at my work: If they go with it, can I also self publish with you for instance?

First, congrats for getting this far with your publisher!

My thoughts about authors doing both self and traditional publishing apply in an overall sense. Authors can and should use separate content for each publishing methodology. But let me be clear: I’m not advocating for an author to use the same book in both a self AND traditional publishing deal. That would be very confusing to potential readers – and would probably anger your publisher, too.

If this publisher accepts your book – and you accept their deal – this content must be reserved for this publisher.

But there’s a big exception to this rule: If you retain – or a publisher gives you – the eBook or digital rights to your book, you can self publish the same book through BookBaby as an eBook. Or vice versa – perhaps the publisher is only doing an eBook and you can pursue printed book publishing (admittedly, this scenario is very rare). Before you go down this route, you need to check with your legal advisor. Your contract with a publisher should spell out these rights ownership issues very clearly.

But when it comes to your next book – and the five after that – you can pick and choose which way you want to go. Thanks for the note, Tony.

And finally, this wonderful message arrived in my email box last week:

Hi, Steven. My name is Eli Vega, photographer, workshop facilitator, class instructor, presenter, and author based in Colorado.

BookBaby, with the help of Mike Taylor, recently did a bang up job on my new photography book, RIGHT BRAIN PHOTOGRAPHY (Be an artist first). Even before I received my books, I had already sold several copies, including buyers in Portland, Oregon, Orlando, Florida, and Austin, Texas!!

I want to compliment Mike. As photographers, we can be pretty picky about how things look. He patiently worked out some details and “wrinkles” until I was satisfied with the results. His efforts resulted in a book which I believe is going to do very well for me. In fact, the book looks so good that when I delivered it to a major and popular bookstore in the Denver area, the Rep e-mailed me, saying, “Eli. I have your book in my office. WOW! What a book!!” Her exact words. It sounds like they will be carrying my book.

Thank you, Eli, for those wonderful words of gratitude. I’m pleased to say that we get letters like this almost every week about Mike and all our publishing specialists in our Portland and Philadelphia-area offices.

Authors have told us for years that self publishing can be a confusing, challenging or just plain scary process. That’s why having real live human beings available for phone calls or emails is a cornerstone to the BookBaby method of self publishing.

I’ll be sharing more about Eli’s book, Right Brain Photography, in a blog post later this spring. His beautiful full-color book is a perfect example of the high quality printing our authors can expect from BookBaby.

Have a question or comment? Want to share your own self (or traditional!) publishing story with us? Please send me an email at

Break time is over – get back to your writing!

Images via

Steven Spatz is a writer, marketer, and the President of BookBaby, the nation’s leading self publishing services company. Spatz’s professional writing career began at age 13, paid by the word to bang out little league baseball game stories on an ancient manual typewriter for southern Oregon weekly newspapers. His journalism career continued after graduation from the University of Oregon at several daily newspapers in Oregon. When his family took over a direct marketing food business, Spatz redirected his writing and design skills into producing catalogs. The Pinnacle Orchards catalog was named "Best Food Catalog," received dozens of other national awards, and the business grew into one of the nation’s largest gourmet fruit gift businesses. After the company was sold, Spatz continued his direct marketing career with Fortune 500 companies including Mattel and Hasbro. He joined AVL Digital in 2004 to lead the direct-to-consumer marketing teams for music industry-leading brands Disc Makers, Oasis, and CD Baby. After serving as Chief Marketing Officer, Spatz was tapped to lead the company’s new publishing division in late 2014. In 2019, the AVL Digital Management team purchased the New Jersey brands, including BookBaby. The company is headquartered in Pennsauken, NJ (just outside Philadelphia, PA) and meets the printed book and eBook needs of thousands of self-publishing authors around the globe. Spatz lives in Glenside, PA with his two children, a demented cat, and some well-used bicycles. Steven loves to hear from authors, editors, and publishers in the BookBaby community with tales of publishing trials and triumphs. To tell him your story, write to



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