What I Love About Being a “Hybrid” Author

Click on the cover to buy your own copy of The Maiden Warrior today!

Happy Friday! I have a real treat for you guys today. Who Dares Wins Publishing has a new member, Mary Reed McCall, and she is here to talk about an important topic–life as a “hybrid” author.” The future of traditional publishing is still uncertain. I think they will survive just fine, though they will have to make a lot of changes to remain competitive.

Yet the fact remains, it is a wonderful time to be a writer. There are so many opportunities. What I feel is particularly fantastic is we really don’t have to choose any one path. In fact, we can take them all if we have the time and energy…ergo the term, “hybrid author.” Not all works are well-suited for the traditional path. These days writers have a lot of options that can cater to the individual author and her works and that is what Mary is going to talk to you guys about today.

So, Mary, take it away!

On being a “hybrid” and how I got here:

“Hybrid” author is a term I never envisioned for myself. During the years I spent pounding away at the keyboard into the wee hours every night, trying to balance my writing goals with the needs of a growing family and a teaching career, I focused instead on reaching for the fiction writer’s brass ring: Representation by a quality literary agency and a multi-book contract from a major New York publisher.

To be fair, there weren’t many other viable paths to publication in the latter half of the 1990s. E-publishing was still in its infancy for most genre fiction, when after six years of writing I secured agency representation in New York, followed by a two-book contract with HarperCollins/Avon.

That first contract turned into several more, totaling seven published books over the next six years. And then, though another contract was in the offing, I walked away, for reasons that would take another blog to explain. The short version involves time crunches and being a midlist author in a niche genre with steady but not rising sales.

So I went on a publishing (not writing) hiatus for a few years, until I learned that one of my seven books had gone out of print. Three more titles followed. Then, thanks to my astute literary agents, I was able to get the rights for all four of those books reverted back to me.

I was still proud of those books and stood behind their quality. Being out of print used to mean a book was “dead”, but I knew that was no longer the case, if only I could muster the courage to pursue other options now open to me. It took me almost a year to do it, but finally in the summer of 2011, I took a deep breath and delved into the world of self-publishing.

Beginning in November 2011, I began to re-release those four titles as indie e-books, fully revised and dressed in gorgeous new covers, with the help of the fabulous Jen Talty and Bob Mayer of Who Dares Wins Publishing. My remaining three books remain in HarperCollins’ control, and I still have an option clause to fulfill from my final contract with them. So, with one foot in the self-publishing world and one in the traditional publishing world, I now am considered a hybrid author…and I couldn’t be more surprised to have landed here. Or excited and revitalized.

So, let’s break it down a little, keeping in mind that these are my perspectives only. As Bob and Jen have stated in the past, there are many roads to Oz, and what floats my boat may sink your ship. This is my take on what’s so good about each of the worlds I inhabit as a hybrid.

Things I (still) love about my involvement with traditional publishing:

–       The ability to hold one of my print books in my hands; though I enjoy my e-reader, I’m still an old-fashioned bookworm at heart.

–       Being associated with a well-known publisher like HarperCollins. Let’s face it; many people recognize that name, even outside of the fiction-writing world. It’s nice to know my books have been published by a house of that quality.

–       The camaraderie and friendships I’ve developed online and in person with other authors from within the house and the traditional publishing world.

–       My editor, who was always amazing, professional, and talented. Should I have an opportunity to work with her again, I would be delighted.

–       My literary agents, who have remained supportive through thick and thin and who are gifted and exceptional in their own right. As I’ve always said, I had a “dream team” editor/agent combo.

Things I (have come to) love about my involvement with indie publishing:

–       The ability to give new life to my out of print books and get them back in the hands of readers through e-publishing.

–       Control over when my book is released; there is no waiting to fit into a publishing schedule. When the book is polished and ready, it can go up and be saleable that week.

–       No worries about “marketability” except in terms of what I’m willing to risk in my own sales. If I’ve written a book set in Peter the Great’s Russia (I did), I don’t have to worry about it being rejected for publication (it was) because it’s not considered a marketable setting.

–       The potential to edit and correct contents any time after publication. There is no time limit on modifications in self-publishing, as it requires an update to a file, rather than reprinting.

–       The freedom to be part of the cover-making process for my stories. I’ve repackaged all four of my rights-reverted books with the phenomenally talented Jen Talty, in a collaborative process that has been thrilling to say the least. I’m very detail-oriented, and Jen is willing to spend however much time is necessary, going back and forth with me until we find exactly the right image and feel for my story. She created a fun, short video documenting just one of the many steps she took in crafting the cover for my latest re-release, THE MAIDEN WARRIOR, which you can see below. Be sure to have the volume on, because the music enhances the experience!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNQ0A1ethsE&w=560&h=315]

Some final thoughts to wrap things up:

Embracing change is difficult for many people, and I am no exception. In fact, it can be daunting and unsettling, but I try to remind myself that change is part of growth; it might make me uncomfortable in the short term, but that doesn’t have to be negative. My approach determines what will come of it.

I believe one of the keys to navigating the seas of change rests in remaining as flexible as possible while having a vision for the future. Straddling the traditional and indie publishing worlds seems to be accomplishing that for me at this point.

Onward and upward!

Thanks, Mary for taking time to talk to us today. I hope you guys enjoyed her post and please feel free to ask questions in the comments section. Any comments left for Mary today will get double entries in my contest, so show some WANA love! And I hope you will grab your own copy of The Maiden Warrior today!

I LOVE hearing from you!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of March, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of March I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

Note: They still haven’t fixed my web site issue. I will announce last week’s and this week’s winner later on Monday even if I have to go open another e-mail account. I am having problems with my web site and e-mail and my web people are working to remedy the problem. Thanks for your patience.

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.


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    • paulphilipcarter on March 23, 2012 at 9:54 am
    • Reply

    Excellent post! Thanks so much for this information!

    1. Thank you – I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  1. I think authors who were published before ebook rights became a normal aspect of book contracts are so lucky–they have the opportunity to redistribute and build a new “empire,” of sorts off their backlist. Now, publishers wouldn’t dream of a book contract where they don’t get the ebook rights up front–and for an even smaller advance than history normally dictates.

    1. Thanks for the comment! You’re right, that it is a wonderful option, to be able to put out one’s own backlist as e-books. I just want to clarify, though, that all of my books with HarperCollins did have e-book contracts added on them, before they went out of print. So all were available as e-books by HC/Avon first (at a different royalty rate than the mass market editions). When rights reverted to me that included e-book rights too, and they were taken down. I revised and put them up myself with new covers, which are the four non-clinch covers you can see at the end of my blog post.

      1. Thanks for the clarification on this point, both of you.


  2. Thanks, Kirstin and Mary, for the new title. I’m proud to be a hybrid! Much like Mary, I simply did not want my out-of-print books to disappear. I’m guessing now there are many, many of us out there with similar stories. Who knew we were eco-authors before our time?

    1. Eco-authors….I like it! 🙂

  3. It’s great having Mary on the team!

  4. Very cool post, ladies. While I’m truly happy I signed with a small press, one of the down falls is the chance of NOT having a print version of my book. It depends on a lot of factors, and while I’m a tech geek, I still love the idea of having that book in my hands. However, we as writers are so lucky the world has changed for us. There are opportunities out there for everyone – especially newbies like me – to get their stories out much faster and to a broader audience. I write suspense, but I also have some paranormal ideas floating around, and one of the coolest things about the hybrid author is that we can write in more than one genre now.

    Mary, thanks so much for sharing your story with us, and congrats on working with Jen and Bob. Great resources (and friends) to have in your corner!

    1. Congrats on your books, Stacy. I’m glad to “meet” you here! I know how you feel in wanting that book in your hands, but as you said, it’s a time of opportunity too. It’s worth going with the flow, even when it sometimes challenging to do it…but keep your goals and what’s important to you in your writing career front and center, too. It’s funny how things can sometimes work out in ways you never conceived.

  5. Hahahaha, I LOVE the video! The music sent chills up my arms, then it was about giving the model silver eyes. Well played.

    I don’t think I have a ghost of a chance in traditional publishing. I’m almost ready to start sending out query letters to agents, but if there is no interest after a few months, I’ll just go the indie route. Maybe I can become a hybrid author by the back door, although it’s probably just as difficult to get noticed that way.

    Thanks Kristen and Mary for sharing your journey with us.
    BTW, Kristen, I wrote a blog post an linked back to your blog and WANA, but didn’t know how to operate the backlink/trackback feature.

    1. Isn’t that video great? When Jen first showed it to me, I couldn’t stop grinning – it’s just so fun and dramatic at the same time. Since the book is a kind of spin-off on the Arthurian Legends (basically examining the question, “what would happen if all the signs prophecizing King Arthur’s rebirth came true in Wales, in 1189…only the child was a girl?”) it was very fitting. Jen has been awesome in every way, not just in cover creation, and I’m delighted to be working with her and Bob through Who Dares Wins Publishing to bring back my backlist.

      1. Mary, well, I may need to check that out. My book, Goddess Rising, is about a future savior who is female. In my early promotions, I often asked the question, what if Jesus had been a woman? Makes for interesting discussions!

        1. Yours sounds interesting, too, Melissa! Very cool concept.

  6. Great post, Kristen and Mary. You are a new author for me to follow. Just underscores and really rings true, from what other talented authors have been saying. What a wonderful time to be an author.

    I agree with what everyone has already said. I’m so grateful for all of you, and for our opportunities. This will truly be a great year.

    1. Thanks, Sharon. It is indeed a wonderful time to be an author. Carpe Diem!

  7. Great post. I love the fact that you’ve adapted, Mary, as many don’t. The video was great too! Made me laugh!

    I agree with Sharon, it is a wonderful time to be an author!

    1. I’ve been Face-booking too much, methinks. I keep looking for a “Like” button to click on some of these comments! Thanks for yours, Lisa…change and I are learning to be friends together. It’s not a natural state for me. I was the kind of kid who wouldn’t let my parents throw out my old, broken bike, because I couldn’t stand the idea of having a new one replacing my tried and true, beloved rusty one. LOL. But I’m getting there and determined to forge ahead, thanking my lucky stars that people like Bob and Jen are there to walk the path with me.

  8. Kristen–Thanks for having Mary! What a wonderful family/team we have at WDWPUB! I’m surrounded by some of the most awesome people in the business. Working with Mary on the covers was just one of the most fabulous experiences.

    It really is a great time to be an author. There are so many opportunities that just weren’t there a few years ago.

  9. Thank you for this empowering post and for the must-see, fun video. : ) All told a great way to start my writing day.

    1. Thansk for commenting Leanne…it’s nice to “meet” you here!

  10. As challenging as it all is, its still a wonderful, wonderful time for authors! What surprises me is that small press publishers don’t get much mention, in fact, they got squeezed the end of the 90’s and now seem almost invisible. For me, they are a nice option. Anyway, thanks for a great post!

    1. One of my very good writing friends is published with a small press. They are a nice option!

  11. I’m currently not a traditional author…nor a self-published one…but I have actively read the debate between the two paths and still have not come to a conclusion about what is best for MY work. But this article certainly makes many good points about being open to ALL available choices in the publishing world. Thank you for a great post!

    1. You’re welcome! There are no easy answers, that’s for sure. But flexibility is key – sometimes challenging, but important nonetheless.

  12. This sounds exactly in line with how I am envisioning my own publication goals right now: hybrids are fuel efficient and kind to the environment. In other words, being a hybrid author puts the resources to the most efficient use and is much easier on the environment of my spirit!

    1. Well said! It is an interesting and positive place to be…

  13. What a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. It’s no secret that my goal is traditional publication, but somewhere down the road I could see myself doing what you’ve done and becoming a hybrid author (or at least a girl can dream 🙂 )

    1. Keep your eyes on the prize, and it will happen. I used to use a focal point (something like what some women are trained to use when preparing to give birth….and hey, writing a book is like giving birth in a sense!). I’d have that item – which in my case was a coffee mug, emblazoned with the NYC skyline at night – near to my writing desk, and I’d look at it every day before I’d begin work on my latest mss., reminding myself of my goals. And Ialso decided never to settle for something that didn’t feel like the right fit, just to be published. I was going to aim for the best opportunities with the best players (agent, editor, contracts etc) and I was willing to work really hard to achieve those goals. Just remember that your writing career is always a work in progress…don’t give up, keep moving forward and working hard, and you’ve won half the battle. Good luck to you, Marcy…keep writing!

  14. I couldn’t let another minute go by without thanking you, Kristen, for being so gracious in inviting me to guest-blog here. It’s an honor to have my post appear alongside your many wonderful and invaluable blogs on all facets of social media, books, and publishing. I truly appreciate the opportunity to share this little piece of my writing journey with your readers!

  15. Mary–I’m right with you! Still under contract with MIRA, but releasing my own backlist books and trying to promote both. I might even try an original frontlist indie effort in between contracts to see what happens. It’s all SO exciting. What a great time to be an author!

    1. Hey Maggie! It’s great to see you here…and yes, it IS a wonderful, sometimes nail-biting, mostly exhilarating time to be an author. 🙂

    2. Hey Maggie! Great to see you here…and yes, it IS a wonderful, sometimes nerve-wracking, often exhilarating time to be an author. 🙂

      1. Ok that’s strange…two virtually identical posts. I didn’t think I’d hit “reply” for the first one and it wasn’t showing…then I got called away, came back to the computer and basically re-wrote the reply. Now you have two! Oh, well – it’s a true concept, so it bears repeating, LOL

  16. Hiya Mary! Jen is BRILLIANT! Love your book cover and what a great video. I can’t wait to see what she/we come up with for my debut fiction.

    I’ve gotta say, the WDWPub team (including Kristen’s WANA brainchild) is another aspect of the hybrid author vision, bringing the talents of individuals together to create a stronger whole. Feelin’ the luv~~~

    1. Awe, shucks Amy. I’m blushing!

      1. No need to blush, Jen – Brilliant is a perfect adjective to describe you!

        And Hey, Amy! The ability to walk the turns in this publishing world road together is truly an amazing and comforting aspect to the vagaries of this business. I’m glad to be part of the team, for sure.

  17. I am also a hybrid author, with my non-fiction storytelling books in print and published by August House. Several other books went out of print when my publisher at Linnet Books retired, and retired the press as well. She returned the book rights and gave me the beautiful original artwork with her blessing.

    I have my own imprint, Apple Boat Press, and receive royalties each month from Amazon and through my website sales. I also have print-on-demand copies for those who order directly or want to take a book home after one of my performances. I have multiple contracts with testing companies who are using stories in my collections to test the reading comprehension skills of kids in Wisconsin, Texas, and throughout the Northwest. I also just found out that my agent in New York is going to reissue as an e-book of my historical novel, The Keeper of the Crystal Spring, which has been out of print for years.

    I still want to try taking the traditional route with my next novel, maybe just to see if I can. But for out-of-print titles that are still great timeless reads, it is like CPR, and will breathe new life into your book.

    1. It’s great to have all these options, isn’t it? It’s a new world out there, and it’s changing every day.

  18. I very much enjoyed the “making of the cover” video. I’ve seen other writers with videos for their books that are similar to movie trailers. Have you ever considered doing that? Any thoughts thereupon?

    1. I honestly have mixed feelings about book trailers. I’ve seen a few good ones. My favorite would be Isabella Moon by Laura Benedict. I’ve seen authors spend a lot of money on something that nets very little. However, its one more way to get your name and your book out there. We are doing some different types of trailers. I’m putting together a bunch of powerpoint type presentations with voice overs for some of the teaching workshops that Bob Mayer and I do. I’m also putting together a peice that will include some of an interview that Bob did regarding Area 51 and put it to different things about his book series.

      The issue is really discoverability. How are people going to find your book trailer? and how is all this going to add to your sustainability as an author. What we are doing wright now is building up our audio/video aspects, but its also not our highest prioity right now.

      Go into book trailers with open eyes. They don’t sell books. But they can help create awareness of your books.

      1. I do sometimes enjoy book trailers, if they’re well done and don’t disrupt my vision of the characters or the book. Nothing can turn me off a story more quickly than having jarring visuals provided for me (since I’m a very visual writer – and reader…I make pictures in my head almost immediately as words filter into my brain).

        So to answer your question, yes, I have considered a traditional book trailer (I’ve made some trailers for my classroom – I teach HS English – on the King Arthur tales etc). I do worry about potentially disrupting other readers’ images with a trailer that doesn’t mesh for them, but I worry more about getting quality material with which to work. For educational purposes, most images from the internet are useable, with citation. However, for a book trailer that is used as a marketing tool, that is not the case.

        Jen and I go through a TON of work finding potential images for creating my medieval covers. There is almost nothing out there that looks authentic enough (for me) in the medieval realm for Royalty Free image purchase. Most look like adults playing dress up with cheap costumes. So, finding images to include in a trailer I would want representing my book is a tall order. So far it hasn’t worked out for me, but who knows? I very rarely say never about anything. I love the idea, but the execution of it (barring a huge expense) hasn’t panned out.

        Thanks for asking – great question!

  19. Thanks you so much for this post, Mary and Kristen. The more I can learn about self-publishing versus getting an agent and going the more traditional route, the better. I’m worrying about the cost of making sure my novel is great if I go the self publishing route. Hiring editors and paying for covers will be expensive. I hate to be pushed into finding an agent and publisher just to get the upfront costs covered, but I also don’t want people to put my novel down after a few pages because it is poorly edited. Do you have any advice?

    1. I don’t have a lot of experience in this area, because all of my published books did have the benefit of professional editing. I’m also an English teacher by trade, so my writing is pretty “clean” grammatically, etc. I would say that it’s very important that any work you put out for public consumption be professionally edited, unless you’re confident in your ability to self-edit.

      I got better at self-editing in terms of the story itself (since the technical side was never really an issue for me) as I wrote more books and went through the process with my editor, but it’s still a learning curve and very difficult to master for one’s own work. It’s difficult to be objective about one’s own story, especially in the compressed time frame that usually surrounds completing a manuscript and wanting to get it out for public consumption. Even in trad publishing, my edits came back to be tackled within two months of turning in a completed mss., and then I had no more than a month to go through them and get them back to my editor to be put into the next phase of the publication process. So no time to step away and regain objectivity.

      I had the amazing chance to come back to the four rights-reverted books YEARS after their initial publication, when I was preparing them again for re-release with WDWPUB. It was eye-opening. My objectivity was restored by the long gap since I’d created the material, and so I was able to catch inconsistencies, errors, and other issues that I was simply too close to the work to see the first time through. Of course having additional years of writing experience under my belt helped also. But I truly enjoyed being able to revise each of these four books and get them into even better shape than they were at original publication. I shudder to think what they would have been like had I not had the benefit of professional editing back then.

      It’s tricky, but you have to weigh what you can accomplish with the resources you have, always keeping your eye on the product you want to put out there. As Jen and Bob have send numerous times, “Content is King” – without good, solid, well-edited content, no amount of marketing will save a book.

      1. What a great reply, Mary! Thank you.

        1. You’re very welcome…good luck with your writing endeavors!

  20. Hey – great guest post. It is a fascinating time for writers and publishers indeed! 🙂

    I’ve mentioned your book and post in my latest blog post here: http://shahwharton.blogspot.com/2012/03/few-thoughts-about-triberr.html X

  21. Great post! One thing that has me hesitant to self-publish is the fact that I don’t know very many people and I am NOT good at sales (been there, done that, failed miserably). I DO love the idea of having that level of control over the publication process, yet there is great fear associated with it as well. Add to that the prestige of the big name publishers and the allure of best-seller status, and most new authors are hesitant to delve into that world. A few authors in my area are going with boutique publishers as a safe intermediary step. They can say they are published by someone other than themselves, but don’t have to take on the scary prospect of being rejected from the larger houses. Either way, authors are pulling up the courage to do what others fear and THAT garners a lot of respect. At least from me. *shrug*

    1. All the changes can be daunting…just keep in mind that whether trad or indie published, there will always be benefits and risks. The only thing you can do as a writer is constantly reassess, stay in touch with what your goals are, and try to move in the right direction to accomplish them accordingly.

      If it helps, most authors I know are not good at sales per say (including moi). It makes sense, really. Authors spend hours alone, in front of a computer, creating people and stories from air and imagination. Most of us are not by nature what psychology calls “extroverts”. It can go against the grain to “sell” oneself…it does for me. So I decided quite a while ago that I was never going to do that, beyond just interacting with people as I would in real life – saying hi, trying to lend a hand, give some advice, or making a new friend. If I have something to share I post about it. I try to visit other people’s sites and blogs and get to know them. Community is more important than a hard sell in discoverability. It’s all the little things that add up to a “presence”, if you can call it that.

      And yet the world – publishing or otherwise – is a Huge place. There are very few J.K. Rowlings among us. The rest of us are on a less expansive journey, shared with fewer people. And there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as your goal isn’t mega-fame (hey, I’ll take it if it comes along, but I’m not going to stop writing because I haven’t achieved it, LOL). I made my connection with Jen through a writing chapter, and we became friendly with each other long before I ended up working with her and Bob. But it was *because* I knew her and respected her – and through her had met Bob and thought highly of him as well – that I turned to them when it came time to pursue my indie branch of my writing journey. So, that connection, forged for no special reason other than getting to know someone, led me here, and I’m very grateful. That’s the approach I try to take in “getting my name out there” and I think it works pretty well for those of us who are not “good” at sales. So don’t fret or be too fearful – there is always an approach that will fit your personality. Stay positive and keep working to find what works for you.

  22. Many thanks Kristen and Mary for your wise words. I particularly appreciated your comments Mary regarding embracing change and ‘remaining as flexible as possible while having a vision for the future’. Very motivating for we older bloggers and writers.

    Pat Simmons

    1. Sometimes it helps to hear things our inner selves know, verbalized by others. It can make those precepts more real, somehow.

      Anyway, I’m glad my blog was useful and even motivating – that makes me feel great, so thank YOU for saying so! 🙂

  23. Love the video! Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m actually starting out with the goal of being a hybrid writer. After all, if New York doesn’t take full advantage of the possibilities available, there’s no reason I shouldn’t. Thank you for your post.

    1. Sounds like a great plan! And having a plan/goal is really a smart thing in any business, but particularly one going through growing pains as publishing is.

      Thanks for the comment and best of luck in all your writing endeavors.

  24. That’s what I’m talking about – a blend, half-in, half-out like the cats in Constantine. You could sell me on that life pretty easy over the long haul.

    1. I’m still learning the ropes of it all myself…and it does take a mental readjustment…but flexibility is key. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

  25. What an awesome post! Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us!

    1. Thanks, Martha!

  26. Mary, you have such an interesting story. I’m so glad this new avenue of success has opened up for you.

    Thank you for this post, Kristen!

    Laura Ritchie

    1. Thanks for stopping by and reading, Laura…and yes, it was very gracious of Kristen to invite me to blog with her, and I am delighted to be here. 🙂

  27. Nice guest post!! It seems the self-publishing door grows wider everyday. With fantastic results for its authors. Worth taking a look at.

    1. Thanks! Everything is changing quickly, but I do feel it will be for the positive in the long run, for writers AND readers.

  28. Thank you, both you Mary and you Kristen, for this lovely post. (And, I must be honest, for the amazingly detailed and helpful comments you offered, Mary. You inspire me with those alone.)

    I did find it interesting that your original contracts still included the e-book clause but that you had your rights reverted to you. Is this standard? I noticed some other authors say a similar thing, but I thought there was a long period before reversal of rights.

    Again, thank you!

    1. Thanks for stopping by Eden. I’m glad my post (and comments!) were helpful for you. I tend to write “long”, LOL. Must be the teacher in me. I like to explain things. 🙂

      As for the rights-reverted piece…I don’t know if it’s standard. I don’t even know if there IS a standard, with how quickly everything is changing, and I suspect the policies differ from house to house and perhaps even contract to contract. In my case, the e-book clause was added on to earlier contracts that were signed prior to HarperCollins doing e-books on a large scale. Byt the time my last contract was signed, it was an actula part of the contract, built in and not an addendum. When rights reverted to me, that included ALL rights, except for cover art (which the publisher always retains) and any outstanding foreign rights. My contract wasn’t written with a particular length of time before rights could revert, but rather a specific set of circumstances with whether or not the mass market book was still “in-print” (i.e. could be purchased new through normal channels) and whether or not it had achieved a pre-set threshold of numbers of ebooks sold in two consecutive royalty periods. Those books of mine that met the criteria were able to be reverted to me. Those that didn’t, weren’t.

      It can be complicated, but every author owes it to him/herself to study and know the ins and outs of his/her particular contract(s). A good agent is very helpful here, too, and I’ve gone to mine with questions and they always get back to me with their take on the issue, but I’ve always believed that when it’s your career, the buck ultimately stops with you. Like I said, I’m detail-oriented and very attuned to anything attached to my name.

      It’s one of the reasons I LOVE working with Jen and Bob and this part of indie publishing – because I get to be fully involved in ways I couldn’t be before. Like with my covers. I can’t explain how wonderful it is to be able to say to Jen, “Here’s my vision for this book. What do you think?” , and to be able to work back and forth with her to accomplish that vision to the best of our abilities based on what we can find to match it. Even the little thing like adding the rampant dragon to the sword hilt on the cover of THE MAIDEN WARRIOR…that was a request I made of Jen…because that’s exactly what’s on the sword hilt of the heroine, Gwynne, in that book, because it’s the traditional insignia of Wales and therefore of King Arthur in some of the legends (and since she’s supposed to be KA reborn…well, her people have made that her emblem, so what’s pictured on the cover is the representation of the actual sword in the book – the one she’s trained with and knows very well how to use). I could never have done that in trad publishing, and it’s absolutely thrilling to be able to do so now.

      And now I’d better stop talking, or I’ll go on and on. 🙂 Thanks for your comment, Eden. It’s nice to have had the opportunity to “meet” you here!

      1. Well… wow! Thank you again. I appreciate “long” answers, especially when they tell so many specifics about a topic (that interests me).

        It actually makes sense that the publisher retains the right to the original cover art, as it is another piece of work that they commissioned for their business. It’s a whole new level of distribution of rights if they gave you the rights to the artist’s work for your own sales.

        As for the dragon… COOL! It’s little details that I always look for when I am reading a story. And cover art that misses the author’s representations… BLEH! 😉

        Thanks again. You have a wonderful day.

  29. Hybrid may become the word of the 21st century, at least in writing. As a hybrid writer–I plot as I write by the seat of my pants–a hybrid author makes even more sense and may just be the answer for all publishing. I’m saving this post as a reference for it is so well written and thoughtful.

    Thanks so much, Mary.


    1. These are interesting times, indeed. I’m glad my post made sense to you, Karen…thanks for the comment!

  30. Thanks for an interesting and enlightening blog! You must have been reading my mind as I am wondering what I can do with a book when the publisher no longer has an interest in printing or promoting it. Thanks for also suggesting those who can help if/when I choose to move to indie publishing.

    1. You’re very welcome! I’m glad I gave you some food for thought. No one path works for everyone, but if you keep your eyes and mind open, then when the time comes you’ll have a few directions, hopefully, from which to choose. Thanks for the comment!

  31. I like the term hybrid, too. It does encapsulate what so many of us are doing. This was an interesting article that pointed out the benefits on both sides of the publishing world so well.

    1. Thank you, Maryann. I can’t claim the initial idea for the term “hybrid” as applied to authors like me. Bob Mayer was the first I saw use that term online, in describing himself as well or any other bridging the gap between traditional and indie publishing. It works well, I think.

  32. Although, like you, I love the idea of being in control of what I write and knowing that it won’t be rejected because you are the publisher and agent, I too want to have a foot in both camps. I also want to feel and see a book of mine in print. At the moment I am concentrating on my indie career, as I want to have ebooks out there for readers, so they can read something of mine leading up to when I hopefully have a book in print. Here’s to being a ‘hybrid’ author.

    1. That sounds like a great plan, Julie. Cheers and best of luck to you!

  33. Once again, another post on Kristen’s blog that I needed to read and know about. 🙂

    Thank you, Mary, for sharing your path to becoming “hybrid”. I know in my heart that I will never be a J.K. Rowling or Suzanne Collins, so it is reassuring to learn from a first-hand source that life for the mid-list author is still rewarding in its own right with the venues now open to us. Kudos to you for taking the plunge and succeeding in it!

    1. You’re very welcome, Teresa. Thanks for reading and commenting. 🙂

  34. That was very informative, helpful, and uplifting. Thanks a lot!

    1. I’m glad to have written something that fits those three adjectives. 🙂 Thanks for the note!

    • celticadlx on March 26, 2012 at 1:21 pm
    • Reply

    Wow! I loved the video on making the cover! That was awesome, and, I love the cover too. Thank you for sharing this interview with us. I really enjoyed Mary’s perspective and wouldn’t mind trying her shoes on once or twice myself. I had an agent but it didn’t go anywhere and I’m now smart enough to realize that was a good thing. My writing wasn’t up to snuff at that point (late 90’s) and has progressed dramatically. I’ve been debating with myself about trying to find an agent again. I have gone the self-published route and did it in ebook and hard copy form. A lot of folks still want a ‘real’ book in their hands. I do have the over-done lament of wishing to sell more, but, hopefully with determination and a new book coming out at the end of the summer, more sales will be in my future. Thanks again. Also will be looking up Mary’s book cover artist! Great post. Lisa

    1. I’m pretty partial to that video – and the finished cover – as well! Thanks for the comment, Lisa. Being an author has its ups and downs, and the path can take turns we never expected, but I do believe it all works out as it’s meant to in the end, if we’ve given it our best efforts. Good luck to you in all your writing endeavors – and best of luck with the new book out this summer!

    • celticadlx on March 26, 2012 at 1:22 pm
    • Reply

    Reblogged this on Lisa Buie-Collard – Author and commented:
    Really enjoyed this blog from Kristen! Thought I’d share it here…

  35. Very interesting! I enjoyed reading the pros and cons of both options. Thank you so much for sharing.

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