Last week, we took a cursory first glance at the hybrid publishing experience, in hopes of defining it with a touch more clarity than has been the norm. Our final conclusion? The simplest and most straightforward definition of hybrid publishing might be as follows:
Hybrid publishing is any publishing model that allows authors to enter into direct, flexible, contractual collaborations with industry professionals that in traditional publishing would be indirect (they would be paid by the publishing house, not the author) and are not traditionally available to self-publishing authors. This includes companies like Outskirts Press, which offers a range of collaborative services, and excludes the so-called “hybrid author,” or someone who has moved from traditional publishing into self-publishing or vice versa.
(You can catch up by reading the full original post here.)
But what does it feel like to publish through the hybrid model? What is the experience like? I thought we might glance over some of the statements that have been made about hybrid publishing by the authors who choose it themselves––a couple of collected dispatches, if you will! Here are the two dispatches I keep coming back to:
I have just finished my third book with Dog Ear Publishing, and if there is a fourth–not likely–I’d not hesitate to go with them again.
To try to find a publisher for my first book was intimidating. I tend to research everything from buying a can opener to buying a new car, so I went to the omnipotent internet–and promptly got overwhelmed. There are dozens and dozens of publishers, of course, all spouting promises and rewards, so I was pretty much in the dark. I found that Dog Ear Publishing seemed to have generally favorable reviews, as well as a package that seemed to fit my needs, but a lot of other companies appeared competitive. But sooner or later one has to fish or cut bait–so I crossed my fingers and pushed the button and they took my money, just like that.
I was assigned to Amber, who proved to be a gem, patiently answering all my questions both promptly and understandably. But alas, she wanted to start a family, and I was switched to Adrienne. I didn’t like that–at first–but she didn’t miss a beat and proved to be an apparent clone. All went reasonably well and the book became a best seller. (Well, at least in my family.)
The second time I went with Dog Ear Publishing was because of these two women, but it was also smoother because I learned to make it a bit easier by more care on my end–strive hard to get the copy as close to right the first time, learn from one’s mistakes, allow for the inevitable exception, that sort of thing.
The third time I went to Dog Ear Publishing for the same reasons, but did wonder what would happen as a few wrinkles showed up. Again, both Amber and Adrienne took turns holding my hand and guiding me though, and I certainly needed them, because of two particular situations: One, for the cover I wanted to use one of my own photos, but the contrasts in tone and subject matter made it difficult to include the title/author in clear type. But Amber was relentlessly patient, repeatedly having the design dept. come up with some adjustment till we finally got it right.
Second, when the five comp copies came, they were acceptable–almost. They were very readable, but some pages did have a noticeable lighter font. I didn’t know if Dog Ear would agree with my assessment, but it was my baby, so I pushed for a reprint. I was surprised to find no pushback whatsoever. They did ask for sample photos of the text to validate the differences, but then quickly reprinted and sent me five new copies as well as extras to cover a few that had already been sold.
So there you have it–and perhaps I should have placed this first–Dog Ear provided;
Varied and useful packages, including developing a website for me and getting the books on Amazon and other outlets, and providing PR materials as per contract. Outstanding customer support on all levels. Knowledgeable, professional, and patient caretakers (Amber and Adrienne especially). Prompt and thorough responses to a multitude of questions, and a willingness to truly “work with” the author.
I love this review, not just because it gives one specific company a good review, but because it speaks to the real strengths of the hybrid publishing experience: constant communication, flexibility, and a real willingness to put the author’s vision at the forefront of the publishing process. That’s amazing!
MMCM: One day I had an encounter with a boyfriend I’d had in years past, and we talked about what had gone wrong between us. It was already too late for us, so after I went home that day I wrote a letter to say all the things I hadn’t been able to say to him in person. When I read it over the next day I really loved it, so I decided: all of these poems that I’m putting together are connected to these men I have loved–past and present, you know, since I still love them–and I decided to write the stories that go along with the poems.
OP: How did you discover Outskirts Press?
MMCM: I had a conversation with a literary department at an agency I currently work with, and they told me ‘Yeah, we can do the book. We can submit it to different publishers.’ But they said, ‘Realistically, this could take up to two years, and if we were you–you already wrote it, you’re already promoting it, you’re already building a fan base. You should go ahead and self-publish.’ I started looking into different self-publishing companies, but I immediately liked that Outskirts wasn’t Barnes & Noble or Amazon. I didn’t know much about the publishing world, but I just knew I didn’t want to drive myself crazy. I looked into different companies as well, but Outskirts was what felt right, and I went with my gut.
OP: Artist Deanna First helped create the cover of your book. It’s an intriguing piece–how did it come to be?
MMCM: Deanna is a really amazing fashion illustrator. I found her online, through a blogger friend of mine. I loved how soft and mystical her art was. I live in Los Angeles, but I went to New York for a wedding and for New York Fashion Week, and I met up with her. I had a vision of what I wanted, and she totally understood what I was trying to do. I sent her a copy of the book, and an image of myself that I really loved, and told her to make the artwork her own. She sent me three proofs one day, with variations in color and lettering, and as soon as I saw it–her art was so, so beautiful. I chose the version with black because I felt it was symbolic for a chased chapter, a closed book. I was starting a new life at that point, and the art expressed a sort of mourning. Since Letters is an intense book, with lots of ends of loves, it fit.
OP: What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of becoming a published author?
MMCM: The most rewarding part is and will always be the ability Letters has to touch people. It’s crazy because I didn’t think people really read books anymore. But for me, having these girls go and buy my book, and spend their twenty dollars or so on Letters–it’s amazing, that someone believes in things still. People say my book has helped them heal, and that it has touched them, and that they have read and reread the book five or six times. It’s not a long book, but still! That’s the best feeling.
A lot of girls and guys have hit me up, saying I inspired them to write again. It’s so great, because I’ve had people inspire me throughout my life, so it’s kind of like I’m paying it forward. I love showing people that things are possible. When I first saw Jennifer Lopez in a movie, you know, I was like–wow, a Latin girl on screen! I was being represented. It was so powerful. If I can be an inspiration to someone to write, to publish a book, that’s beautiful.
What I love so much about Mirtha Michelle Castro Mármol’s account (above) is that she speaks so clearly and directly about how hybrid publishing can bring an author’s whole and complete vision into the world. She describes her vision, and how she collaborated with the staff of Outskirts Press to bring it into being––from writing the book, to finding the company she wanted to go with, to finding a designer for her book’s cover, to connecting with her readers after the fact. For Mirtha Michelle, you simply can’t divorce the publisher from the published experience, and I think that’s a beautiful thing.
And there you have it! Two of the most insightful dispatches from inside the world of hybrid publishing … when it goes well. Next week, I’ll take us full circle back to marketing––and answer the questions: How does hybrid publishing assist an indie author in the realm of marketing a book? Does it offer tangible benefits? How can an author know when the expense is paying off? Watch this spot next Wednesday for more about this new and growing niche in the self-publishing industry!
Thank you for reading! If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠
|ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.|