Learning The Ropes As A Hybrid Author

July 29, 2016 | By | 2 Replies More

book1Smart people disagree on whether traditional publishing or self-publishing is the way to go, or whether it’s getting easier or harder for new writers to break into the business, but most people will agree on one thing: the game is changing.

In the last few years, I hear more and more about authors who leave their traditional publishers to branch out on their own. There are many reasons this might happen. Authors might disagree with the way the publisher markets their work. They might write a second book that doesn’t fit with the rest of the books the publisher releases. They might decide they’ve made enough of a name for themselves that the backing of a larger publishing team is no longer necessary.

Let’s define terms. There is a difference between being a hybrid author and a hybrid publisher. A hybrid publisher is something between a traditional and vanity publisher, with varying degrees of vetting and financial contributions. These are fairly new as well, and make old-school authors nervous.

While we were coming up, it was drilled into us that agents or editors who ask for money should be reported to Predators & Editors and avoided like the plague. I keep reading that this is another thing that is changing, but I will probably never be entirely comfortable with it myself.

Being a hybrid author just means that you have several published books, some traditionally published, some self-published. That’s me. I have a traditionally published novel, a self-published novel, and a novel published with KindleScout. This puts me in a position to compare each experience.

My first novel was discovered on an online writing website and I was offered a three book deal. The contract included a four figure advance that it earned back within the first year and I now earn royalties. The manuscript went through several levels of professional editing and took about a year to come out. I had little input on the cover art or the way the book was marketed, and though it sold over 10,000 copies its first year, it took many months for me to be informed.

My second novel was re-released under my own imprint after getting the rights back from the publisher when I decided they.weren’t doing enough to promote it. Since it had already been professionally edited, all I had to do was create the cover and format the text for the ebook.

I spent $60 on a premade ebook cover that I loved. (There are many low-cost cover options created by talented graphic artists that you can find online. I got mine at thecovercollection.com.) Since I am the publisher for this book, I expect to spend my own money to promote it. I experiment with Amazon promotions and get daily sales information. It is not yet selling like my other two books, but as long as it makes back what I put in, I consider it a success.

My third novel went through the crowd-sourcing KindleScout program and was chosen for publication in December. This experience has been a mix of the first two. I had complete control over choosing the cover art and the manuscript benefited from a professional copy edit.

Production moved much faster than with my first publisher; it was released about a month after being accepted. I received a four figure advance that it earned back within thirty days and I get monthly sales reports and royalty payments. Unlike my self-published book, I don’t have the ability to change the price so I can’t control promotions.

I’ve learned a lot from each experience and have a hard time deciding which is my favorite. I think a lot of the frustration I felt with my first book was about me not understanding how publishing works. After I left them, they merged with LittleBrown and they’re much better at communication. I now get monthly sales reports on that book too.

The control freak in me loves the daily updates from my self-published book and the level of control I have with it, but the trade off is that I make less money on my own (so far). Advances are nice.

FINDING CHARLIE COMPLETEKindleScout has been the best of both worlds for me. I think before you choose which way to go, you should decide what’s most important to you. Money? Control? Connecting with your audience?

I think every relationship with a publisher is different, and that’s part of why there will always be different opinions on the subject. Although I never landed an agent, I’ve had several email exchanges and phone conversations with industry professionals giving me feedback on my work. That’s invaluable and I think all writers should give it a try – even if just for the experience. I believe it has made me a better writer.

I am currently writing my fourth book and I’m still not sure which route to take. Will I query agents or go it alone or try KindleScout again? I’m not sure, but I like having options.

Katie  O’Rourke was born and raised in New England, growing up along the seacoast of New Hampshire. She went to college in Massachusetts and graduated with a degree in gender and sexuality. She lives in Tucson, Arizona where she writes, loves and is happy.

Monsoon Season, her debut novel, was a bestselling e-book. A Long Thaw was released in 2014, followed up by Still Life, a collection of short stories. Her most recent novel, Finding Charlie, was selected for publication by KindleScout in 2015.

She writes for todaysauthor.com and you can find more information about her books on katieorourke.com


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Category: Contemporary Women Writers, On Publishing

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  1. Learning The Ropes As A Hybrid Author | WordHarbour | July 30, 2016
  1. Rachel Nichols says:

    Hi Katie. What would you recommend for someone interested in say spec fiction with a commercial audience and literary character-driven fiction? I tend to find both interesting. Love Kafka, Jorge Luis Borges, and Jonathon Swift as well as Alice Munro, Dickens, and Tolstoy.

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