What to Do When a Publisher Rejects Your Book

Published: November 27, 2017

When a traditional publisher says no to your book, it’s painful.

You’ve worked hard on that book, and you’re convinced that it can change minds and make a real difference in the world.

But the publisher didn’t buy it.

In the old days — five years ago, for instance — your only option was to self-publish your book and resign yourself to the fact that your book would never appear on bookstore shelves.

But now you have another option: Hybrid publishing.

Hybrid means you get many of the advantages of traditional publishing — high quality in editing, design, and production, plus distribution to physical stores. But hybrid differs from traditional publishing in one important respect: You pay upfront and collect most or all of the revenues from the sale of your book.

It means you are taking the financial risk, not the publisher. If you sell a lot of books, you do well — better than you would with a traditional publisher. If you don’t, you take the hit.

How can you tell is a publisher is actually a hybrid publisher and can deliver the goods?

Here’s one way. Take a look at their most prominent books in the last year. You can check on Indigo or on Barnes & Noble whether those books were actually stocked in shelves, or just on a digital list of books that can be ordered.

The difference is significant. If the books are on shelves, the publisher has the sales and distribution deals to get books into physical stores. It also means that the publisher thought about how the book would be marketed. Thirdly, it suggests that the publisher made sure the book was of high enough quality in the editorial and design departments to sit on a shelf of a bookstore.

Hybrid publishing is a good option if you can invest upfront, and there are some fine hybrid publishers out there like She Writes Press in the U.S. and Barlow Books in Canada.

But you need to make sure you’re dealing with a genuine hybrid publisher, and not a self-publisher offering extra service but no access to stores.

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