Tuesday, March 12, 2013

I'M A HYBRID

by Julie H. Ferguson

No, I'm not a car, but a hybrid author, the name recently coined for those who write some books for a traditional publisher and self-publish their other titles.

I was a very early adopter of the idea, long before this adjective came into use. In 1999 after two books on Canadian submarine history were already published, I began to self-publish books for writers, teachers, and one for professional speakers.

In Y2K I had failed to sell the full-length manuscripts for writers to a publisher—too small a market in Canada, I was told. So I divided them into six mini-guides of about 55 to 85 pages without spines. I produced them on a high-end printer that could print them in booklet form in my office, designed my own covers, and sold them on my website and at events where I spoke. They were a hit at $10.00 each and I could barely keep up with the sales.

I have always thought doing both was a sound business practice as a writer and taught aspiring authors to hedge their bets by considering the possibilities of the two approaches to publication, especially for nonfiction authors. In 2008 I self-published a 174 page book (right) using a short-run printer for Canadian writers yearning to get published, which also sold well. But the electronic revolution took off, and when this title needed revising a third time, I self-published it as an ebook only. That was a very good move.

From 2006 to the present, I have continued to have my Canadian history titles published by Dundurn in Toronto, and in 2014 they are re-releasing my first book again.

Lately I've been reading about authors who are taking similar approaches for both fiction and nonfiction. Some have even managed to retain the e-rights of their traditionally published print books so they can self-publish them. Others, who once espoused the older route, have now switched to self-publishing all their titles.

While the publishing industry is in such a state of flux and authors are getting published anyway they can, I'm betting there will be many more hybrid authors.

Now I'm not alone and I have a name.