Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
Having recently returned from Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, I’ve been mentally downloading the myriad conversations I had with attendees. While many of the conversational topics are what you would expect, one took me aback. Several unpublished writers told me they planned on pursuing hybrid careers.
Here are three reasons I would hesitate advising anyone new to publishing to pursue this path.
1. Simultaneously self-publishing and publishing with a traditional house is like starting two businesses at once. Sure, you have to write a manuscript and market it in both instances, but to indy publish, you also take on the role of publisher. If you’ve never been through the publishing process, you’re having to learn a new business regardless which route you choose, but if you’re attempting both routes, you’re having to figure out how to run a publishing business as well as how to build your writing career. Considering how challenging it is to succeed at either type of publishing, to plan to divide your time, creative energy, and financial resources in half for each venture suggests you view your resources as vast–or you haven’t calculated the cost at all.
2. Each type of publishing requires a different set of skills. When you publish traditionally, your publisher brings to bear a team of experts, whose jobs are to do everything within their power to sell your book. You, as the author, bring your platform, creative marketing energies, and a product to that team, which in turn helps to direct you in the best way to make your unique contributions to the selling of your book. Self-publishing requires you to be the entire team or to be the person who hires and directs that team. These are very different tasks, requiring different skill sets.
3. You could end up competing with yourself. Determining when to release your self-pubbed books so they add to your oeuvre (and hopefully to your readers) is complex in light of the shifts that your traditional publisher might make to the release dates of your books. Will you find the right kind of covers for your indy-pubbed books to help to create your brand, or will the covers you use not be a good match with your traditionally published covers? Will your traditional publisher support your decision to be a hybrid author? Will the price you set for your self-published books create competition with your traditionally published books, rendering you an author whose low sales dictate the traditional publisher can’t keep producing books with you?
I’ve had publishers ask me to intervene on their behalf as some of my established clients have done more harm than good in their self-publishing decisions. These are authors with much more of a context for how publishing works, yet they struggle to make decisions that feed their careers rather than drain them of momentum.
I want to be clear that I am not saying no author should ever attempt a hybrid career. For some authors, with serious business savvy, marketing skills, and a fan-base, such a plan might be just the antidote to stumbling sales. But these are authors who have considerable traditional publishing experience. They already know how to swim in the publishing world’s ocean. I would, on the other hand, hesitate a long time before suggesting to an unpublished writer that building these two businesses simultaneously is a sensible plan.
Why do you think new writers would view hybrid publishing as the perfect solution to building their careers?
Do you see additional reasons hybrid publishing might not be the best idea?
3 reasons hybrid publishing isn’t for everyone. Click to tweet.
Does a writer compete with himself when he chooses hybrid publishing? Click to tweet.