Hybrid. Not just for cars.

This post, on Chuck Wendig’s blog, got me thinking today. (BTW I can thoroughly recommend Chuck Wendig’s blog, unless you’re sensitive to swearing but then, if you’re sensitive to swearing I doubt you’ll be here either).

He was talking about hybrid authors. That is, those of us who self publish their work and also have a trad deal. Apparently, these folk earn more.

You know what. I’m not surprised at that.

Frankly, I would kill for a trad deal, so I could do both. Unfortunately it’s never going to happen. I used to have a reasonably high end business job, and I know how business works. I’m a really crap proposition. It won’t always be that way, but right now it is. A stay at home mum who takes two years to write each book. Even if I managed to pen a query letter covered with just the right amount of fairy dust and unicorn pooh to score that magic read (yes even with an ‘in’ I failed to the point where they sent me a letter back with comments that showed, quite clearly that one of the readers hadn’t even read the book). Even if an agent or a publisher, absolutely loved my stuff, there would be somebody who could churn out a book every 6 months, whose work they loved just as much, who’d get the deal. Geesh! I mean seriously, I wouldn’t touch me with a barge pole, so I don’t expect them to.

If I want trad, I’ve got to have a ‘proven track record’ – ugh I loathe and detest that phrase – and to get one of those, I’ve got to make it the hard way; as a self published author.

However, at least with self publishing, I do have the option to get my books out there and, possibly, succeed. It will be much harder – although not as hard as getting someone to read my query letter – and if I do succeed it will happen in slow motion. But the opportunity IS there.

This is what I love about self publishing.

What I hate is that anyone would bung their first attempt at a novel out there unedited, unrested, without thought. It absolutely amazes me – and gets me into a bit of a frothy mouthed rage, to be honest – because they’ve turned the only route to market for many of us into a slush pile that no-one will touch.

Thanks you bunch of complete and utter bastards.

The K’Barthan Trilogy (actually it’s four books so I’ll have to call it something else, ideas on a post card please) took me 25 years to write.  That’s if I count them from the first attempt. Although I admit I’ve done the donkey work in the last few, between 2008 and now. A lot of people, who would probably enjoy it will never will never find out about it, and others will never touch it because I’ve committed the terrible sin of publishing it myself.

Whatever people say, the prejudice has not gone away, with good reason (cf the complete and utter bastards mentioned above).

That is pretty galling.

Which brings me neatly onto hybrids and why I think they do better.

They’ve sidestepped the prejudice.

Those who ‘don’t read self published books’ will read the self published work of a traditional published author. They’ll pick up that author’s work in the first place. Those book shops who ‘don’t stock self published books’ will stock the self published work of someone with a trad record. It really is all about the brand. It’s the same road; getting to the point where there are enough people out there who trust you to write a good book, who will be confident giving them to their friends to read.

Hybrid is win-win. Hybrid authors have the endorsement of the establishment, they have fans from the normal off line world and they bring them with them. Those fans give the author the momentum to get their books up the listing past the glass ceiling of other authors, amazon book police and jaded, indie author loathing forumites, into the light where the ‘normals’ who are just looking for a book to read, see them. Their trad pub background gives them the golden key onto the review sites and into magazines that ‘won’t accept self published work’ but will from someone with a trad pub background. It’s definitely where I want to be.

In short, the way I see it is this.

If you’re a hybrid, you get to keep the cash and sell without the prejudice.
If you’re trad published you get to sell without the prejudice but there’s less cash to keep.
If you self publish you get to keep the cash but you earn less because until you’re seriously established, everyone you approach will assume that your work is sub standard, poorly edited crap.

It’s a conundrum. Hmm… would knowing what I look like help?

Well, you asked...
See how trustworthy I am.


Filed under General Wittering

11 responses to “Hybrid. Not just for cars.

  1. I’m hoping to self-publish, though the thought of sticking my book out there without having others read and edit it is bonkers to me 😀 Being a hybrid writer would be nice, it’s just getting that publishing deal in the first place. Great article, was a good read 🙂

  2. A really interesting and thoughtful article. I’m no expert, MT, but I think you should ‘keep hope alive’. The fact that you’re winning/shortlisted for awards counts for something. The fact that you keep at it – even if it takes 2 years – counts for something.

    I imagine how JK Rowling felt to have her book turned down SO many times, but her persistence finally paid off.

    It’s a really confusing time in publishing – and you’re right – an already published author usually has an easier time with the self-publishing route. But there are also ‘hybrids’ in the publishing world: small, boutique publishers who know the territory, and are willing to ‘partner’ with an author to get the book out (shared costs and duties.)

    Strangely enough, many of the authors we celebrate today either partnered with a publisher, or self-published – at least at first. (Jane Austen, Mark Twain, Tennyson, etc.) and many of them set up their own publishing houses to publish their own books and that of their author friends. They had such a hard time getting their books out by established publishing firms.

    So in some ways, we’re going back to the past, that time before “publishing” became such an exclusive thing.

    And then there’s the luck of the draw – the serendipity that makes a book take off, or someone influential hearing about/picking up a book and deciding they like it. Who can predict?
    I have no answers, but I feel strongly that you should keep at it.

  3. You’re right about it all here, and Chuck is an absolute genius – love that guy. Is that a marrow?

    • Thanks, and yes, Chuck is tip top. And yes, that is a marrow! It was 18 inches long and grew from zero to that in 3 days, such is the fertility of the soil around Ely, where I lived then.



      • 😉

        I just wish I could still churn out veg like that. Although in my defence, I might have managed it this year if I hadn’t been done my knee in at the precise moment they needed a fit person to water them every day rather than dot and carry here to water them once in a blue moon, when the guilt overwhelmed me!



  4. Funny and so very true.
    Good blog, thanks!

  5. texasdruids

    MT, I gave up on trad publishers years ago. They take forever to reply and I got tired of canned rejections. I may not make much money but I’ll stick to self-publishing.

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