happy to be a hybrid author

Those who have been following my chocolate travel blog know that I’ve recently posted about hybrid varietals of cocoa. But I’m pleased to report … I’m now a hybrid author!

Just what is a hybrid author? This is a cool new term that has been applied to the growing number of authors who have been traditionally published (i.e. had a book or books published via traditional commercial publishing companies such as Random House, Penguin, or in the case of my previous book, Dundurn Press of Toronto) and then chose to independently (self) publish their next book.

Why would an author do this? Why would an author choose to leave the comfort and prestige of a well-respected publishing house? Because the world of publishing has changed dramatically with the explosion of social media. Authors now have the means by which to reach their readers directly. They have the means by which to establish a platform and extend their reach to thousands of new readers and people who can help promote their books to an even wider audience. Most authors who are traditionally published are expected to have blogs, Twitter and Facebook accounts at the very least as ways to engage with their readers. If the author is expected to do most of the marketing work anyway, why give away most of the financial rewards of publishing your book to a publisher?

Chocolatour is my 4th book.

Chocolatour is my 4th book.

Yes, the publisher would cover the costs of physically creating the book, but for that, they retain roughly 90% of the proceeds in a royalty-based contract. And until sales revenue exceeds the amount paid to the author in the form of an advance, the author receives no post-publication royalty payments whatsoever.

So how do authors cover the costs of publication without depleting their savings? Consider crowdfunding. I launched an Indiegogo campaign in the spring, and raised $8,000 in a matter of 30 days between the online and private donations I received. These funds were sufficient to cover the editorial and design costs of the book as well as a small print run. Future print runs will be funded via sales of books already printed and from e-book sales. If you’re interested in what I learned from crowdfunding, you’ll find several earlier posts on this blog that addressed the subject.

What are the other advantages of self-publishing your book?

In addition to the potential for significant profit, there are several advantages pertaining to creative control:

Additional Advantages to Self-Publishing (independently publishing your book)

1) You get to choose the people on your production team. These will include the book designer, editor, photographer, and any other innovative talent that helps you create the book and its platform.

2) You get to choose the cover and artwork for your book. Any author who has worked with a traditional publisher knows that it is they who have the final say on what goes on the cover and on the pages of your book.

3) You get to determine the timing of the book’s release. Most authors who have been traditionally published express frustration with regard to how long it takes a traditional publisher to get the book edited, laid out and printed. It is often six months to one year from the time the author completes the manuscript to the time the book hits the shelves.

4) You get to walk away from book launches and events with cash in your hand. With the publication of my last book, I received a relatively small pre-publication advance and that is all. I never received any royalty payments subsequent to that. Whenever there was a book launch or event in a bookstore, I left the event with only a smile on my face. Now, when people buy books from me, they pay me cash or cheques (or via credit card if the sales are online) and I receive the funds immediately. And I can choose to hold the events at locations that do not charge me to hold the event and that do not take a portion of the sales revenue.

The only drawback to independent publishing is in the distribution of the books. And that is the next lesson I will learn in the realm of independent publishing. It is obvious that traditional publishers have us independent authors beat when it comes to getting the books out to the world. But I’m working on establishing a network that will help me get my book into the hands of its intended audience: chocolate lovers who like to travel.

If you are an author who has self-published a book, please share your experiences with us here. Has it been a good experience for you? Are you a hybrid author?

Hybrid authors may choose to publish some of their titles themselves, and choose to publish via publishers with other titles. I intend to keep all my options open. And I look forward to learning from all of you. Please share your triumphs and challenges. I’ve found the community on this blog to be extremely knowledgeable and supportive. Let’s keep the sharing going for this post, and then please join us back here the week of August 19th for our next new post.


Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

26 Responses

  1. Congratulations on being a hybrid author Doreen. The fact that your Indiegogo campaign was such a success is a testament to your networking skills.

    This is sure to be a valuable post for many aspiring authors. I’m off to share!
    Sherryl Perry recently posted…Ways of Protecting Your ID on Social MediaMy Profile

  2. Anushha says:

    Your success graph is something which inspires me the most. Your chocolaty posts and now a book… great going! All the very best for your future endeavors.

  3. WizardOfWords says:

    Marlene had difficulty posting a comment to the blog, so I have shared hers here:

    Doreen, This was very informative. I’ve wanted to talk with someone who has gone both traditional and self-publishing. I’ve also heard the term Hybrid publisher. I’m sure you have as well. I must tell you, also, that we (my husband and I) visited the chocolate factory in St. Augustine, FL this summer. I think it’s Whetley. I should have looked up the spelling. Very interesting, not sure if that was on your tour or not. Thanks for the helpful publishing tips.

    Marlene A Hibbard
    Freelance Writer
    Member: Working Writers Club

  4. marytlou says:

    The last time I checked online for ways to publish a book online I could not find out much useful information. There are hardly websites that provide complete guidance as to how to go about it. Could you recommend some authentic online publishers. Would appreciate your input on the same.

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Hi Mary Tlou: If you search “self-publishing” on this blog, you will come across quite a few posts on self-publishing options. I know that many authors have had success with Create-Space. Some like Lulu. Those are print-on-demand publishing houses, which I think is what you mean by “online publishers?” I used Friesens Publishing of Altona, Manitoba, which is not an online publisher, but did produce my e-book.
      WizardOfWords recently posted…happy to be a hybrid authorMy Profile

  5. Congratulations on your book. I love chocolate and I love to travel, so I’ll definitely get me a copy for my holiday reading. I self-published my first book with Outskirts Press and can’t say I had a good experience. I have not received a penny of my online sales from them since it was below the minimum amount that they pay out. I also paid them to have my book distributed to Christian bookstores and that was never done either. I won’t be using them again.

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks for your comment, Angela. It’s always great to hear from you.

      Thanks, also, for sharing your experience with Outskirts Press. It’s really important for us to share our experiences so that others can learn from our challenges and our successes.
      WizardOfWords recently posted…happy to be a hybrid authorMy Profile

  6. Aayna says:

    Doreen, I am way too much impressed by the manner in which you carve out your tasks. A big congrats, on your new achievement. Stay blessed. Thanks.
    Aayna recently posted…Pure Bliss with Chef Dominique RizzoMy Profile

  7. Doreen, I’ve self-published and I’m traditionally published. It’s true it’s difficult to make money through the traditional path, self-publishing can be the more profitable alternative.
    Amazing that you acquired $8,000 in 30 days through crowdfunding. Very impressive!
    Karen Cioffi recently posted…Copywriting – Choose Your Niche CarefullyMy Profile

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks for your comment, Karen.

      I won’t kid anyone that the crowdfunding was easy! It was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. But I’m so glad I went thru the process, as it enabled me to do the book my way, get it out quickly, and create a quality product. That’s a win-win for me and the readers.

  8. Doreen, what an insightful post. And I’m simply amazed each time I hear that you raised $8,000. I, too, am a hybrid author. I’ve been using CreateSpace and it has a free track authors can use. I also have been very happy with traditional publishers as well. There are definitely pluses and minuses for each track. The journey of writing has never had so many opportunities!!!!

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks for your comment, Nancy, and for sharing your experiences. Yes, I agree. It’s a totally awesome time to be an author! We have so many choices. I am currently pursuing a marketing strategy that may have the bulk of my books selling thru independent channels. I love that idea, and hope everything falls into place. Cheers!

  9. Kelly says:

    I really liked that term. The trend of self publishing is growing these days as the world has really become a small place and there are so many ways you can reach your target audience. Congratulations to you 🙂 . Wish you success.
    Kelly recently posted…Comment on Skin Quiz by Need To Give Your Skin a Little Loving? | Checks and SpotsMy Profile

  10. Ann Alma says:

    As a hybrid author I love part of the experience. The cost of publishing a full-colour book “Kids Who Grow Their Own Food” is high so profit is low. But it’s doing well and I have learned a lot.

  11. Linda says:

    You’ve sure done a marvelous job of prepublicity. I am dumbfounded by your energy and tenacity. You deserve a break. Then, as fall approaches, this book should be a great gift item….Christmas sales! 😉
    Linda recently posted…Banding Hummingbirds for science . . . and the thrill of holding such a mystical being!My Profile

  12. Linda says:

    Control, control, control. The gates have been breached. Now authors have direct publishing access. Will they fail in the distribution end? Some may. But, what have they lost? Their overhead is so minimal that whatever they do sell goes directly into their own pocket. It is the future of the business. Given the up-front commitments required of the big houses, I think it was a rare bird who saw much of the money their writing earned.
    Linda recently posted…Banding Hummingbirds for science . . . and the thrill of holding such a mystical being!My Profile

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Yes, it sure is interesting how it’s changed, isn’t it, Linda?

      Distribution does indeed seem to be the key, but I am hoping that word for Chocolatour will spread organically, and that chocolate lovers of the world will find me in due course. As I had wanted to take the summer off and just chill out after all the excitement of travel, conferences, and getting the book out, if sales had been TOO brisk right out of the gate, my summer would have been shot. Thanks so much for helping me spread the word. I really appreciate your support. 🙂
      WizardOfWords recently posted…happy to be a hybrid authorMy Profile

  13. I am new to all this. What you’ve learned and continue to share is very helpful to me. I am now in the process of prepping to publish a book of my short stories with some of my illustrations. Crowdsourcing my be the way for me to go to find the funds to hire a promotion or PR firm for my book. I look forward to what your next steps are and what you share. 🙂
    Susan Cooper recently posted…Summer Vegetable Casserole: RecipeMy Profile

    • Thanks, Susan. I’ve learned much from others, and am happy to pass that on. I’ve also learned much from readers of this blog and am grateful for the sharing that takes place here. Good luck with your new collection.

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