PBS Media Shift has an interesting article entitled Self-Published Authors Still Rarely Make the Jump to Publishing Houses. The topic has been a point of discussion for some time at New Libri and I suspect at a lot of writing programs. It really touches on the heart of the “to self-publish or not” question that authors ask themselves.
The article mentions the “hybrid” author. There is another hybrid author out there, the small press author with an emphasis on eBooks. This hybrid author is still on the hook for a lot of things, but may have a few advantages over the self-published author and resemble the Media Shift’s hybrid author in many ways.
1) The reputable small press author has passed one quality assurance filter, which is really what the Media Shift article is talking about. Large publishers do indeed want to make money, but their filter is also how does this fit my brand? How does this author fit in the (albeit changing) traditional publishing world? Ironically, for the large publisher it is all about sales, but also sales that fit Pornography sells, but not everyone wants to sell pornography. The self-published universe is now so large, that the traditional publisher realistically has no way to filter through the authors there. They will still depend on agents for some time and to a lesser extent the author’s success in the traditional publishing world: small medium large.
2) Some authors want to make money first, write second. Some authors want to write first, make money second. If an author is in the second category, then small publishers are still a valuable step in a long term career. They shoulder the editing, layout, and business aspect, but admittedly still force a significant portion of marketing and publicity on the author. This is why the very small press author is a hybrid also.
3) As an author at a small press proves their viability in multiple books, growing their audience, and marketing, than they attract attention and move up the author food chain. However, the small press itself will watch these authors and often begin to devote precious marketing and publicity dollars to that author. Everybody wins and it is another form of a hybrid model.
4) Similar to the hybrid author mentioned in the article, the small press author has access to the knowledge base of the editors and business acumen of the small press. This allows for a sounding board of ideas that is filtered. The self-published author has access to a huge number of resources and other authors, but most of those authors are not from the publisher world. They are valuable, but hard to filter the good from the bad. With a small press, you get a different perspective. It may not lead to more sales, but it may lead to more credibility and moving up the publisher food chain.
With the enormous pressures that large publishers are under and the entry of Amazon as a traditional publisher in multiple genres now, the term Hybrid Author is apropos to many different kinds of hybrid and will become more and more common.