What I Love About Being a “Hybrid” Author
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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!
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.