Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Truths About Being a Hybrid Writer

 by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig
I’ve discovered that there are many things that I like about being a hybrid writer (one who self-publishes as well as publishes traditionally.)
I like the visibility that traditional publishing still affords me.  There are still some folks out there who shop in bookstores and have discovered me that way.  Penguin’s mysteries do tend to get decent visibility on Amazon, too, and they’re doing a good job with Facebook mentions and tweets on their end.
I like that my output tends to be higher when I’m working with my publishers’ deadlines.
I like the editing and story development assistance that I receive from my editors.
On the other hand, I like the higher income that I receive from self-publishing. 
I like that I’ve continued a discontinued series by self-publishing it, and that it became popular among readers who hadn’t discovered it when it was traditionally published. 
That all being said, there are definitely problems hybrid writers face.  I’m working through them. Here are two big ones:
Production delaysfor both traditional publishing and self-pub.
Production delays with traditional publishing: Unfortunately, it’s one of those scenarios where “failure to plan on your part constitutes an emergency on mine.”  It usually means I need to go through my edits quickly or my copyedits quickly or my pass pages quickly. Other than that, I usually don’t have any part to play in the process…and usually, I don’t even know where the production failure occurred.  We always end up releasing on time. There’s not a whole lot you can do to prepare for this with trad. publishing…my advice would just be to expect a tight deadline and be aware you might have to put a current project down for a while to address edits in a previous project.
Production delays with self-publishing: You’re a lot more involved, here.  Have you put up an expected launch date on your website or blog? You’ll need to adjust that. I’ve gotten emails and Facebook comments for the past 1 ½ months from readers asking where the book is…because I publicized the release date.  Unfortunately, a series of events that really wasn’t anyone’s fault in my production team has caused a delay of nearly 2 months in the expected release of the latest book in the Myrtle series.  A potential solution would be to be a bit vaguer with your launch date, or else adjust it on your website, accordingly.
Traditionally-published projects interrupt self-pub projects. If we really want to be a hybrid writer, unfortunately this means that paid-in-advance projects come first.  You’ll have a contract binding you to a particular date to deliver the manuscript to the publisher. If you don’t deliver you might have to forfeit your advance. I was recently working on another Myrtle Clover for an October release (which, yes, I’d stupidly announced on my website) and then was asked to write two more books in one of my series. This is good news, but it meant that I either needed to work on both books at once (I’ve drafted two books at once before, and it’s very, very confusing), or else stop one to work on the other.
I’ve been able to keep working on the first draft for the Myrtle book, and outline the other book at the same time…but now I’m at the point where I need to write the first chapter for the new book (so that it can be included as a teaser in the book coming out in December). And I’ve got to temporarily stop work on the Myrtle.
Other than juggling work (and postponing work) it’s not especially challenging to have a hybrid writing career.
Do you write more than one series?  Do you have a foot in both publishing worlds?