Partnership Publishing: a ‘Third Way’?


In the article Between Traditional and Self-Publishing, a ‘Third Way’, Brooke Warner talks about how authors are moving toward hybrid publishing. She begins with discussing the contemporary publishing world, divided by traditional publishing and self-publishing, and says that now it has become much harder to get a contract with traditional publishers, while self-publishing presents multiple risks. Warner then introduces her own business as a “third-way publisher”, and how it distinguishes from traditional publisher and a self-publisher but is qualified for both.

Modeled on a traditional press, authors who take hybrid publishing approach are involved in the vetting, distribution, and marketing process. Warner describes this approach as a “middle ground” which provides flexibility while enhancing the opportunity of success for a book. However, to what extent can a hybrid publisher, or a “publishing partner” provide consultancy during the publishing process, when the marketing responsibility is almost entirely on the authors?  And while Warner confidently claims that  this model will be the future, one may find it difficult to evaluate the contribution of such role as a publishing partner, who seems to be highly involved in the selection process, but shies away from the rest of publishing process which has a great impact on the likelihood of success for a book.

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8 thoughts on “Partnership Publishing: a ‘Third Way’?”

  1. Good discussion. There are so many opinions on the “three” publishing methods. So far, I’ve stayed as indie but maybe someday I’ll go with a traditional publisher, who knows. Thanks for stopping by

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting article. There still seems to be a great deal of controversy in this area, as you can see from the comments beneath Brooke Warner’s article. I think partly this is because ‘hybrid publishing’ remains a somewhat loosely and inconsistently defined term. It can be made to cover everything from ‘vanity’ publishing to authors’ cooperatives, to a combination of ‘traditional’ and self-publishing (e.g. where an author might sell print rights to a publisher but keep e-book rights; or publish different titles in different ways). And probably many other flavours too. Hence the confusion.

    Personally, t think Brooke Warner makes some very good points. Perhaps she exaggerates by saying that it’s impossible for an author to get published traditionally unless they have a platform. It’s more like just very, very difficult – but then, for practical purposes, very, very difficult isn’t too far from impossible.

    I am interested in hybrid publishing, but wary of paying up-front costs to ‘vanity’ (or whatever they call themselves) publishers. Not just because I don’t want to waste money, but because how much incentive does that company have to sell my book if they’ve already got paid? I’m interested in partnerships, with a partner just as invested in the success of my book as I am. I understand that the process costs money. Editors, designers and publicists need to be paid. An investment has to be made in both time and money.

    My second issue with Brooke’s pitch is about marketing. She says authors have to do all that themselves even in her model. I can write and edit my own material (though a final proofread would be ideal – fresh pair of eyes and all that). I can do layout and design (though a professional cover design would often be a wise investment). The only thing I’ve routinely paid for is an editorial critique on my m/s, by an experienced author / editor – that’s invaluable if you want your book to be better. But marketing and selling – that’s where I most need help. I’m willing to put in the legwork, but I need a leg-up too, people with access to the right channels and contacts. Isn’t that what publishers are supposed to be good at?


    1. Great insight, Christopher, and I completely agree with you about the “grey area” of “hybrid publishing”. I personally do not think it is very reasonable in Brooke’s model to let the authors be responsible for the entire marketing process, but I do know some other hybrids who can take care of marketing — if you pay extra, of course. A follow-up post about this topic will be released tomorrow, so stay tuned for more discussion! 🙂


  3. My company, Yardman Press, seeks new writers with ideas, themes that i find interesting or relevant to my mission: giving a platform for writers from the Jamaican/ West Indian diaspora. If they have the resources I have them share printing and distribution costs, help them with marketing, copyrighting their work, editing, proof reading and cover design. These are often people with little technical ability and no knowledge of publishing whether print or e-book. A micro-niche for sure but here partnering works.


  4. From the article by Brooke Warner it comes across as a catch 22. The writer who gets the contract already has a national platform.

    And it goes further, from my research I’ve read that having a traditional publishing partner is not the end all be all, especially for a first time writer. You will still be doing a lot of your own marketing. But I’m not sure the hybrid style Brooke is championing is the best route either. It still sounds like self-publishing.

    I think more research is needed for that format too.

    Liked by 1 person

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