Not long ago, literary agents sold books to publishers, publishers sold books to booksellers, and booksellers sold books to the reading public. But as the book publishing industry continues to consolidate and contract, mid-list authors find it increasingly difficult to land contracts with their previous publisher. Enter the new hybrid author.
While the definition of hybrid author remains fluid, the term generally means a traditionally published author who occasionally self-publishes when the project is served best by taking full ownership.
When To Go Hybrid
First, make sure you have a platform to sell your books. Successful hybrid authors know their readers, have access to their reader’s contact information via newsletters, emails, fan mail, and usually have an extensive social media reach. If, as an author, you are doing the bulk of the marketing and moving the majority of the books, hybrid may be a good option for you. Here are three publishing options for hybrid authors.
- Large advance (any figure over $1000)
- Heavily invested in bookstore distribution
- Submits your work to prestigious review outlets
- Physical location with salaried employees
- Prints books offset press and stores them in distribution centers
- Pay royalties on a quarter or semi-annual basis
Advantages of a Traditional Publisher
Traditional publishing remains the gold standard. Often you receive an advance, validation or your work (the house is paying you to write), and the prestige of reviews, bookstore distribution, and hope that your book will become a best seller. While the number of slots continues to dwindle, remaining loyal to a house (and waiting longer for a contract) may pay dividends later.
- None or a very small advance ($50 to $200)
- Very little bookstore and library exposure
- Few salaried employees
- Virtual staff
- Ability to adjust or adapt a title after its release
- Agile marketing
- Treat imprints as consumer brands
- Use print–on-demand
- Heavily promotes ebooks
- Higher royalty percentages than with traditional houses
Advantages of a Small Press
Small press publishing gives debut and mid-list authors the chance to write and sell more books – provided their titles sell a reasonable number of copies. With a lower overhead, a small press doesn’t need to sell as many copies to recoup its investment. Many mid-list authors find that a small press is the best option since the author does not pay for the book’s production yet still retains some input in the book’s title, cover, and marketing.
You pay for the production of your book, marketing services, and / or may be required to purchase a certain number of books.
According to Bowker, the number of self-published titles in 2013 “increased to more than 458,564, up 17 percent over 2012 and 437 percent over 2008.” Bowker’s data is based on ISBNs issued. It’s widely acknowledged that self-published authors frequently avoid buying an ISBN, so the number of titles is certainly larger.
Advantages of a Self Publishing
Self-publishing give authors the most control over their books. Authors can often buy books for much lower than what a small press might offer. This is important if you are a speaker and expect to move most of your books at the back of the room. Many self-pub firms offer extensive marketing for a fee. With self-pub, you risk your money but have more control and receive a greater share of the profits. Below are several self publishing firms.
(Note: The listing of these links does not represent our endorsement of these companies. We define self publishing as any firm that requires you to spend money in order to have your book published.)