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Wednesday, September 21, 2016


You’ve all heard of a ‘hybrid author’, right? Authors who publish via both the traditional and indie routes? After months of debating whether it would be the right decision for me, I have jumped on the bandwagon of the ever increasing number of hybrid authors.

Let me tell you why…

My debut series, Vengeful Love, was published by Harlequin’s Carina Press earlier this year. I loved the experience. From getting the deal and starting up a relationship with my editor, to seeing the finished product. But, as a debut author, I didn’t have my next deal lined up before the series was released. I found myself in a dilemma—readers were calling for my next book and, though I had a complete manuscript, the traditional process meant it would likely be 12 to 18 months before my next novel would be released (although some digital only imprints will publish on shorter timescales).

Therein lies the main motivation behind me becoming a hybrid author. TIMING. If I put out an indie title, I can choose my own timeline. I can give readers what they are asking for, and keep momentum between traditional deals. Timing is a huge positive associated with indie (or self-published) releases. But it was not the only thing I had to think about.

My greatest reservation was that I would not be handed a readymade TEAM of editors, designers and marketeers. I would have to find my own team and how would I know if they were any good? Actually, it was not as difficult as I thought. I asked my indie author friends for recommendations. Most editors will provide a free sample of work and designers have a catalogue of covers you can use to help you make the right decision. It is actually great to be able to FREELY MAKE DECISIONS about your book.

Perhaps my biggest concern, is that responsibility for marketing now rests solely with me. Whereas traditional publishing houses have a loyal following of readers willing to take a chance on their books, indie authors must work very hard to build their own BRAND. (That said, even with traditional publishing, authors these days are required to market themselves heavily through social media and other channels.)

PRICING and ROYALTIES. I am grouping these two together because I consider them related. In terms of pricing FLEXIBILITY, the traditional route leaves an author with little or no influence over the retail price of a book. The reverse is true of self-publishing. Indie authors can set their own prices and utilise mechanisms such a price PROMOTIONS and Kindle Unlimited (i.e. free to subscribers of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited library in return for royalties). Royalty percentages are also significantly higher for self-published authors. However, indie books are commonly priced lower than traditional books. This, together with more regular price promotions, tends to mean the average retail price of a book is less for indie authors.

Related to pricing and important to remember, is that an author choosing to self-publish will have initial EXPENDITURE for covers, editors etc. whereas a traditional publishing house would generally assume these costs.

Another consideration is access to PLATFORMS. While most platforms (e.g. Barnes and Noble, Amazon) and formats (ebook, print, audio) are available to indie authors just as they are to traditional publishers, there is significantly more work for one author to spread him/herself across multiple platforms, whereas traditional publishing houses are already set up to do this. Also, while physical stores may sometimes pick up self-published authors, they are much more likely to acquire traditionally published paperback books.

Finally, let us consider READERSHIP. While traditional publishing has loyal followers, these days there is a huge indie-supportive readership out there, a community traditional authors may not find themselves part of.

Let us put all this together in a visual and see which route scores best.


Traditional Publishing
Time from writing to publishing

Building a team

Choice of covers, artwork and marketing strategy

Ease of establishing a brand following

Ability to set prices and flexibility to utilise price promotions


Initial expenditure

Ease of access to multiple platforms

Readership – brand loyalty / indie-supportive community

In summary, you can see both the traditional and ‘new-age’ routes have positives and negatives. Looking at this table, it may not be difficult to see why many authors are choosing to combine the benefits of both routes and become hybrid. Perhaps the greatest benefit is that there are two tranches of readers, those loyal to traditional publishers and those supportive of indie authors. Even acknowledging some crossover, being hybrid affords authors access to a much greater readership by combining both.

My first indie title and standalone novel, Scarred by You, releases on 24 October 2016. For more details, follow me here:


Rita said...

Great post. I agree with what you say except, readers are loyal to publishers and or indi authors. I don't think readers care one wit where a book is published. They only care about the story.

Anne Marie Becker said...

Congratulations on the upcoming release, Laura. And welcome to the hybrid world! :) Loved your chart, and the summary of pros and cons. Definitely helps when making the decision.

Laura Carter said...

I definitely think this is increasingly the case and that's a really great thing in my view x

Laura Carter said...

Thanks Anne Marie. I hope it is helpful x

Toni Anderson said...

My only real comment (ha!) would be the fact that things like assembling a team takes less time on the second book. You can change certain aspects of the team--like bring in a new editor, or change cover designer--without really interrupting your flow. I like to try other people for certain things so that my team and experience is also growing. Don't be afraid to change something.

My second comment (I knew it!), are you can go across all platforms with ease by using a distributor like Draft2Digital. Learning the platforms does take a bit of time, although I'd advise for it. But for those who simply have no time, a distributor is the easy way to go wide. Just saying :)

Oh--and the speed of getting paid. Did you mention that? Two months for indie versus 6-9 months traditional??? That certainly affects my decisions.

Nice post. Good luck with your release!

Laura Carter said...

Ha! I was going to mention distributor platforms but I thought my post was long enough. I've been recommended a few similar platforms so I will definitely be looking into them. I didn't mention the speed of royalty payments but you're right, a HUGE plus!

Laura Carter said...

Thank you for the well wishes! I'm crossing my fingers and trying to focus on the excited element of my excited-nervous feeling ��

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