Hybrid Publishing – Why You Might Just Want to Try It

First, you may ask, what is hybrid publishing? Simply put, hybrid publishing is when an author publishes both through a traditional publisher and through self-publishing.

Photo credit: David Blaikie

Hybrid publishing means sharpening multiple pencils from your toolbox. Photo credit: David Blaikie

At the recent When Words Collide conference in Calgary, we had the absolute pleasure of having Mark Leslie, author and Director of Self-Publishing and Author Relations at Kobo, speak to his experiences in hybrid publishing. He is kindly allowing me to blog about his talk – thanks Mark!

Mark is traditionally published through Dundurn, is a consultant through Stark Consulting, has been an editor, was a bookseller, is self-published and oh, yeah, that Kobo day job I spoke about. What Mark has, that most others don’t, is this extremely vast experience in all aspects of the book industry.

The biggest takeaway that I had from Mark’s talk was that hybrid published authors typically make more money in the long run than if you solely placed yourself in one area of publishing. They feed each other, provided that you’re putting quality work out into the universe. As Mark said about self-publishing, “just because you can press the button doesn’t mean you should.” I wholeheartedly agree with him.

Let’s say that you’re pursuing self-publishing. You’ve tried to get traditionally published and at this stage you just want your work OUT THERE. Well, don’t rush the gun. Make sure your work has been properly edited. No, I don’t mean by friends and family, I mean by hiring an actual editor. Think about your marketing strategy. Wait, what was that, you don’t have one? Bad plan. There were over 350,000 books self-published in 2013 alone, so if you think that your work is going to be found without some creative marketing, think again.

“Piracy is not your enemy,” says Mark Leslie. “Obscurity is.”

Ah, the cover. We’ve talked a lot about covers on Girl Tries Life. We know that people judge them, we know the process they go through when a traditional publisher creates one, but as a self-published author, how important is the cover? That would be… very! If your cover looks like your brother did it, redo it (unless of course your brother is the incredibly talented Chip Kidd, in which case you’re golden). In a nutshell, your cover needs to look as professional as if it were traditionally published in order for you to compete. Pay to have this done right, as it will compliment your traditionally published work, if you go the hybrid route.

Some other hybrid published authors you may have heard of:

  • Bella Andre. You might have heard of her. I mean, she only went and sold 1.5 million ebooks as WELL as being signed to Harlequin MIRA. No big deal.
  • Hugh Howey. Best-selling author or WOOL, originally self-published, then Simon and Schuster picked up the print rights for the book. Not the e-rights, the print. That’s how insanely amazing this guy is.

Finally, Leslie’s 3 P’s of Publishing are as follows:

1. Practice. Write your book. Write the next book. Write the book after that. Just keep writing. Build your writing muscles.

2. Patience. You’d rather do it right the first time, wouldn’t you? What did we say above? Just because you can push the publish button, doesn’t mean you should, so take the time to make your novel the best it can be.

3. Persistence. If you want this badly enough, don’t give up.

So, a big thank you to Mark Leslie for letting me blog about his talk. He’s a pretty entertaining guy, very informative, and if you ever get the chance to hear him speak I highly encourage it. I’d also suggest following him on Twitter @MarkLeslie

If any of you out there do hybrid publishing, what has your experience been?

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5 Responses to Hybrid Publishing – Why You Might Just Want to Try It

  1. dianacranstoun September 19, 2014 at 9:18 am #

    Really interesting post!

  2. Dee Van Dyk September 22, 2014 at 9:30 am #

    I love the Mark Leslie quote, ““Piracy is not your enemy. Obscurity is.” So true.

    • vscot848 September 22, 2014 at 7:25 pm #

      Glad you liked the post! Yes, I too found that quote inspiring.

  3. Lizzie February 3, 2015 at 7:35 pm #

    Hi Victoria! I just came across your blog and have been devouring loads of your posts as I’m in a similar position to you. I’m in the process of editing my first novel and I’m always on the hunt for blogs that will help along the way. This post is really interesting as I’m starting to look into publishing options. I always thought that there was either a) self-publishing or b) traditional publishing – i.e. I didn’t realise that you could combine the two, but it’s definitely something I’m going to look into now!

    • Victoria Smith February 4, 2015 at 3:26 am #

      Thanks, Lizzie. I’m so glad you’ve found not only the post, but the blog itself, to be useful in your journey. I also hadn’t considered hybrid publishing until I met Mark, but here I am considering self-publishing a non-fiction travel blog while hoping to be traditionally published in fiction. Who knows? What I do know is that there are more options available to writers than ever before.

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