Two weeks ago, after much consideration, we settled on a simple and straightforward definition for hybrid publishing:
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.
And last week, in hopes of getting a glimpse into the actual experience, I dove into the stories of two self-publishing authors who have chosen the hybrid publishing track: Norman Smith of Dog Ear Publishing, and Mirtha Michelle Castro Mármol of Outskirts Press fame. Smith’s review spoke to what I consider 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. Meanwhile, Mirtha Michelle’s interview highlighted the collaborative nature of hybrid publishing––from writing her 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.
This week, I want to answer a different set of questions, and I want to take us back to marketing, our focus for our Wednesday posts here on Self-Publishing Advisor. How does hybrid publishing assist an indie author in the realm of marketing a book, for example? Does it offer tangible benefits? How can an author know when the expense is paying off?
Value vs. Expense:
As hybrid self-publishing superstar CJ Lyons puts it, “If you are spending more time marketing than you writing a book, then you are probably doing a disservice to your readers by not writing the best book that you can. You can trust your readers and if you are writing a book they love then they will do the marketing for you.” And it’s true: your readers are the greatest force for influence that you have! When readers fall in love with a new world or a new book, as you are probably already well aware, they can’t help but want to share the thrill of discovery with their friends, families, and other social connections.
Connecting with your readers is, of course, a matter requiring some delicacy in and of itself. Marketing doesn’t happen by itself; your social media presence, whether you’re a solo act or working with a hybrid self-publishing company, will require work. You have to balance your personal time and energy budget without falling behind on either sleep or sacrificing valuable time you might spend writing that next book (and that next book is a powerful marketing tool in and of itself, so you don’t want to sacrifice it). The difference between being a “regular” self-publishing author–assuming, for the moment, that we set aside the massive range of experiences that fall into that category–and being a self-publishing author who chooses to work within the hybrid model boils down to resources. A good hybrid publishing company will reduce the amount of time and energy and expertise required to keep up a vigorous social media campaign as well as a nationwide marketing plan to something more like light maintenance than heavy work.
Within the hybrid model, you the self-publishing author don’t have to be the one running down to Kinkos to print out a massive pile of fliers that you spent weeks designing yourself, or staying up late squinting at a dim computer screen scrolling through tweets about your book. You pay to let the professionals assist you with that. Most companies offer a range of marketing products (like this one from Outskirts Press) and bundles so that you can choose to pay for only the services you need or that you don’t know how to manage yourself, and which allows you to only spend money on truly necessary expenses. An easy way to know if a product is worth spending money on is to hop on a web forum and ask around after authors of equal expertise in, say, book trailer creation–and see how long it took them to design one. Multiply the hours they spent by the average going wage for freelance videographers (anywhere between $20 and $50 an hour in USD) and compare against the price for that product. Run the numbers for each product you’re thinking about purchasing, and make your decisions accordingly. These figures don’t allow for the expertise you’ll have access to by paying a professional to do them for you, but they do give you a starting point–and we all need one of those!
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. 10:00 AM|