BookBaby mailbag: the hybrid author conversation continues

hybrid author

The hybrid author concept has a lot of BookBaby customers asking questions, and we’ve got the answers.

I’m still getting emails about our recent guide, The Hybrid Author Game Plan. I think it really struck a chord with a lot of authors contemplating their publishing path.

Hi Steven,

I enjoyed reading your download. My book was published by a traditional publisher and they say they are not likely to publish my next book, which is still in an early stage as sales were “modest” and disappointing. I like the idea of keeping eBook rights next time if I can negotiate that, assuming I find a publisher or my current one decides to give me another contract after all.

I wonder how your business works regarding distribution of eBooks; what percent does the author keep and how does the distribution compare to how a traditional publisher handles distribution of eBooks.

Thank you.
Marcia B.

Hello Marcia,

Thank you for your note. Publishers are, in my mind, getting unrealistic in their expectations for new authors. It takes time for an author to build a following and loyal audience. I would say even “modest” sales should be quite encouraging for you!

Whether or not you keep the eBook rights – or decide to self publish both print and eBooks – for your next book, I would give BookBaby a serious look. The BookBaby website does a pretty thorough job of describing our services but let me hit a few high points:

  • We distribute your eBooks to the biggest network of online retailers, bar none. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, and dozens more, including international and niche stores.
  • BookBaby creates some of the most beautiful printed books – hard cover and soft cover – in quantities as low as 25 books.
  • Need distribution for your printed books? Yep, got that with our Print On Demand service. Your books can be available wherever printed books are sold, with guaranteed listings on Amazon, B&N, Powells and listing in all the major book seller catalogs including Baker & Taylor and Ingram.
  • We have real live human beings on the phone – or through email of course – to help you with your book project.
  • You retain all your rights to your books and materials. You retain all creative control.
  • And everything is 100% satisfaction guaranteed. No risk to you.

I hope this helps! If you have any more questions, I suggest you go through our website and/or give our publishing experts a call (877-961-6878).

Dear Steven,

I’m an author of two essay collections released by a small publisher in Oregon. (More about me and my work at

Now I have what I believe to be a sensational book idea. This book has a fair chance of breaking through – I’m already experienced at marketing and outreach – so I’m tempted to self-publish with the full intention of making a little more money but ultimately attracting a major publisher. You seem to be encouraging that concept, and it makes sense to me.

The big question is this: book or ebook? It’ll probably range between 20-30,000 words max, which probably says “ebook!” but I also want to make sure it appeals to average readers, not just the minority who read ebooks. But maybe my instincts are antiquated.

Give all of the above, could you give me guidance, specifically on the ebook? If I go with BookBaby, can it be on both Kindle and Nook?

Joel S.

Thanks for your email, Joel.

First off: congrats for making it this far in the publishing game. The fact that you were already published is one step. More importantly is the fact you’re thinking far out in advance of actually releasing the book. This kind of vision is really required for long term success with self publishing. It’s almost impossible to tell a new author of the importance of thinking about marketing details prior to the book release or thinking about the next book to come in their writing career. I applaud you for your forward-thinking viewpoint.

Now to the meat of it: Of course I’m going to advocate that you self publish. There are a lot of reasons, one that you mentioned in that you’ll realize a lot more money from it. But there’s another even bigger reason: time. I think this is the biggest argument today in favor of self publishing, and one that applies to every author. The money argument is strong too, but only if you think you’re going to actually make money on the project. But there is no denying the huge advantage to self publishing in terms of the timeline.

Think of it: You could either spend time writing query letters to agents, and pitch letters to publishers for your great book and wait/hope/pray someone responds in the next six months. Then once you DO make the connection, you get to wait another 9-12 months before the book is actually released by the publisher.

So how about the self publishing timeline? In that same time period, you could have had your book edited, converted to an eBook and/or printed book, and distributed in hundreds of eBook stores around the world. You could have put your time and efforts into book marketing, promotions, reviews, and discoverability. And, you might even have a more than a few checks rolling in.

One more thing: In that same time frame, you could be off and running, writing your next book.

In short: If you decided right now – today – to seek traditional publishing for this book, the earliest you could see this book released would be September 2016. And maybe later than that. If you decided to self publish this today, assuming the manuscript is ready to be edited right now, you could have your book show up on Amazon within two months.

So let’s talk about format. I wouldn’t get so hung up on worrying about the length dictating the format. We do plenty of books that are that word count.

I advocate eBooks for everyone now. It’s how a lot of people want to read these days. When you go with BookBaby, we convert your files so they can be read on every single reading device. On Kindle, iPad, Nook, Kobo Reader, and smartphones – increasingly a huge reading platform, especially overseas. I just saw an article in the trade press that said more readers in China are going to eBooks than print, and overwhelmingly they are using their smartphones to read.

But I wouldn’t rule out print. I’m at my core a marketing guy too. I abide by the saying: “Make it easy to buy.” For authors, that means thinking about having both eBooks and printed books. There will always be folks who want the physical book. You don’t have to print 1,000,000 of ‘em. Print up 25, 50 or 100 to have on hand.

I wish you good luck with your project, Joel. Let me know if you have any other questions and what you finally do with your book.

Dear Steven,

I read your post about traditional and self-publishing and found it really interesting. I was wondering if I would be allowed to share this on my blog? Of course, I’d link back to BookBaby and the original article, making all due acknowledgements to you as the author.

Thanks for considering!

Thanks for the message Hanne. My answer goes for anyone reading this – yes, please feel free to share any and all good author ideas and tips from the BookBaby blog. As a leading company in this space we feel it’s our duty to help education authors about self publishing. (And yes, we’d appreciate acknowledgement and a link back to our blog.)

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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


  1. Hello Steven,

    I am publishing my first book through BookBaby and new to the book writing and publishing business. My question is How does the pre-sale work? Is this something that I manage? or does the online bookseller take the pre-order? If it is the online bookseller, when is a good time to make the pre-order available?

    Thank you,


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