I’m proud to be a hybrid author, one who publishes her work both traditionally and independently, but I’ve recently opted to use assisted self-publishing for my indie books. And I still enjoy and choose traditional publishing when I have the option.
Is that odd in today’s publishing world? I don’t think so. Let me explain why.
Self-Publishing Takes Me Away from Writing
I have 13 self-published books to my name and under my own imprint. I’ve sold some on Amazon and Smashwords and others from pages on my websites or at the back of rooms where I’ve spoken. A few were meant to turn a profit or build author platform while others were published to give me expert status or to help me obtain speaking gigs.
I didn’t write even one of them with the intention of becoming or remaining only an indie author. I always considered myself a traditional publishing holdout. I wanted literary agency representation and a contract (or two or three or four) from a publishing house.
I began my indie career by producing printed booklets. I graduated from these to PDF-style ebooks. A few years ago I self-published several of my short books using Amazon’s CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program, as well as Smashwords. I also printed some of them using a digital printer.
Then I slacked off and stopped publishing indie books. It’s true that I began traditionally publishing books at about that time, but I also realized that I didn’t want to put the time and energy into self-publishing. Indeed, it is a very time consuming endeavor. It also requires me to be a project manager and to “run” a publishing company. These activities take me away from my writing.
Recently I had the need to find a new literary agent. One of the reasons (there were many) why I chose to be represented by Foreword Literary was because the agency could help me self-publish—and the agents wanted me to self-publish. In fact, my literary agent, Gordon Warnock, sees publishing ebooks as a way to help me build my platform and to succeed as an author.
The more books you publish, the more books you sell. It behooves every nonfiction author (or novelist) to have a plan to write many books, and that’s what I have…a huge plan for about 14 more books. Many of them will be released as indie ebooks while others will be pitched to traditional publishers. In both cases, this will be accomplished with the help of my agent.
Some writers will cringe at my choice. They will say it’s a travesty for me to give up money to my agent for my self-publishing endeavors—or for agents to earn money by helping writers self-publish. Let me tell you how I see it.
Why I Chose Assisted Self-Publishing
I wanted help self-publishing my work anyway. I could have done it myself; I know how. But I gladly would have paid someone else to do it for me—and actually had planned to pay big bucks for this service. Now my literary agent handles all the details of those indie projects for me. I just write the ebooks and turn the work over to him. I don’t need to worry about editing, cover design, formatting, or metadata. To me, that’s worth a percentage of my royalties. (Plus, I get a bit of promotional help when the ebooks are released, which is a bonus.)
Now, I also have a business partner (my agent) to help me decide when and what projects to self-publish or to traditionally publish. Together we decide upon the most effective way to achieve my writing goals. To me, this is priceless.
As for whether agents should get paid for such a service, why not? They help their clients get published, build platform and succeed, and they render a valuable service. Besides, they only work on commission. (When a book sells to a publisher or to a reader, they get paid.) In this case, my agent still only gets paid on commission; when my ebooks sell to readers, we both get paid. I see no conflict of interest here at all.
Publish More, Make More
I enjoy the benefits of being a hybrid author. I now have two traditionally published books, but I continue to self-publish. (By the way, my publisher, Writer’s Digest Books, approved the ebooks I’m producing—one recently and three more to come in the next nine months or less.) I continue to focus, however, on producing more traditionally published books.
Some industry statistics show that hybrid authors with a number of books in the marketplace—more than 10—make a living as writers. That means they can pay their bills with the income from their books. Traditional publishing helps the sales of their indie books. Especially for nonfiction writers, the support of a publisher gives you a bit more credibility, which can boost your expert status. And that goes a long way toward selling more books—and getting more book deals. My latest ebook, The Nonfiction Book Proposal Demystified: An Easy-Schmeasy Guide to Writing a Business Plan for Your Book, gave both of my traditional books a noticeable boost in sales.
What do you think about hybrid publishing and assisted self-publishing?
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