Thursday, August 21, 2014
What is a "hybrid author?" by Terry Burns
Well, I suppose I'm one.
A hybrid author is a relatively new term and it means an author who has one foot in the traditional publishing world and one foot in the Indy publishing or self- publishing world.
In addition to being an agent, I have books in print from significant size traditional publishers, from small and independent houses, and I have self published projects. I've done magazine articles, have written online content, done greeting cards and been in a number of collections and anthologies. I guess that qualifies me.
How do we feel about clients that want to self publish? We are supportive of them. Most of our representation contracts are for "all book length work," which of course includes novellas, so to self-publish we have to exempt the project from the contract. We don't look to make money on anything we didn't handle. If there are other works to represent we continue to represent them for those projects. If there isn't anything else to represent, well, it's hard to have a contract to represent nothing. Joyce is looking at a new Amazon program that works through agents and offers some things that authors don't otherwise get. That could change things some, more details on this coming.
I had a client that turned down a substantial house contract which included a good sized advance. She pulled all her projects to self publish. I'll tell you the truth, I thought she had made a mistake. Turns out she had a rare gift for online sales and promotion and has made significantly more money in the long run. Some people can do that. Unfortunately a lot of others jump into doing it only to discover that they don't have the necessary skills to do what they need to do to be able to be successful.
When I represent my clients I encourage them to go with traditional publishing as the first option. If we fail to find a home for them there then they can decide what the next step is for them. If they do have the skill set to do it they can make more money self-publishing. If they don't a small house or Independent Press can get them published, but of course earn part of the proceeds for it. Or if they don't have the skills there are places where they can contract for the assistance that they need.
The bottom line is the decision to self-publish should not be a knee-jerk reaction to getting a couple of rejections. It should be a business decision where you look at what will be required of you and whether you have the ability to do it or not. It can be the right decision if you do, just keep in mind that a majority of those who try do not achieve the results that they want.
So the question is "are you one of those with the necessary abilities?" If so you may can even firmly plant your feet in both markets . . . and become a hybrid author.