Hybrid Publishing in Australia
A recent (2022) article in UK, titled IS IT A STEAL?, details an investigation into what is called hybrid publishing in UK. This is defined in the report as a situation where "a writer pays money for publication, and grants the company a licence of rights or the company takes a share of any profits". The report makes a number of recommendations for writers and publishers to warn about the risks in this industry as there was a significant number of authors who complained of unsatisfactory or predatory practices by so called hybrid publishers. The following link contains a report by Independent Publishing after examing the market for hybrid publishing in Australia in the light of the UK report. Overall it paints a much more favourable and positive picture of the Australian experience, while acknowledging the risk of predatory and unethical behaviour by some.
Nenge Books appears to fall into the broad category of a hybrid publisher, sometimes referred to as a vanity publisher. The report by Independent Publishing does clearly indicate a number of ethical and practical practices which authors should look for when engaging a publisher. The report also differentiates between 'service providers', stating "Hybrid publishing , therefore, does not include service providers, who will work with authors on specific areas such as editing, design and layout, and marketing and publicity, but will not take their rights." A key component of this is who owns copyright to a work. "By insisting on an exclusive copyright licence, as hybrid publishers typically do, they are more than a service provider: they are a licensee of intellectual property.... by taking an author's rights, they have the same responsibility as any licensee: to generate a return for the author."
We would recommend this article to any author considering publishing their work, whether with us or not.
In the light of this report, we (Nenge Books) would identify ourselves as an 'independent publishing service provider' as we are providing editing, design, layout and other elements involved in pre-publication as required, as well as publication (through Ingram Spark) with opportunities for sales and marketing. Our primary motivation is to enable independent authors to get their work into a professional standard, printed or ebook form. Our pre-publication costs are minimised basically to cover fixed costs and our time involved in editing and layout etc. Marketing opportunities come through Ingram Content's global network but our experience is that most sales happen through personal contact from the author. One issue raised in the report is the reluctance for booksellers to stock or sell books published by independent publishers and we have found that.
We are currently applying for membership of the Australian Publishers Association but have adhered to their code of practice in our business. This includes having a contract and documentation with the author which clearly defines all aspects of the relationshhip between ourselves and the author. We want the author to maintain full control and full rights to their work and copyright is assigned fully to the author. We see ourselves as serving the author to enable them to achieve their desire to publish, not to own their work. So the only rights the author assigns to us in the contract is the right to publish their work and derive a profit from any sales, in other words, the markup between cost and selling price (RRP). While we take a small percentage of this profit to cover administration costs, 90% of profits are retuned to the author as royalties.
If you are considering publising with us, please read over this article and assess yourself whether we adequately meet the requirements you expect for ethical and acceptable standards of operation. We are always happy to answer any questions you may have. You may like to also read some of the feedback we have had from authors who have published through us.