What, in publishing terms, is a hybrid model? Well, from my experience, I believe it’s the way forward for many up-and-coming authors. Rather than a mix of publication platforms and formats hybrid publishing is releasing your work via a mix of traditional and self-pub platforms and, honestly? It’s taken long enough for many of us to arrive at this point largely because of the stigma of ‘Vanity Publishing’ and how it has been linked to Self-Pub.
Here’s an example you might recognize, a young musician starts putting video’s on YouTube. They generate a fan base, a following, after a while, thousands of people are following them and they are trending on social media. At that point an agent picks them up and they go mainstream. It’s not even that new, YouTube is the new ‘Pub Gigs and Parties’ for starting musicians and it reaches a much wider audience. So, how does that apply to writing? We don’t exactly expect to make it big off of open-mic nights and public readings. Still, the internet plays a part, you can share your material online, Reddit or other fiction forums. You can self-publish and promote, you can take your work to conventions or all of the above. That is the publishing equivalent of YouTube (although, you could *also* use YouTube, a growing number of YouTube video’s are Book Trailers). Getting known and generating a following is your way to attract a publisher and, rather than the endless frustration of the submission/rejection cycle, you can channel your efforts into actual feet-on-the-ground experiences with real people.
Getting published right off the starting line is still a hard thing to do. The big presses are still looking for material based on familiar, popular properties, the next ‘Harry Potter’, the next ‘Game of Thrones’, new ideas are risks and, at this point, risk isn’t wise. Indie presses are a better bet, they’re looking for works that gel with their identity and are actually going to judge a manuscript on it’s merits (so long as the author follows the submission guidelines!) looking for something that’s going to capture the readerships imagination. Having a proven body of work is a good step-up and that’s where the self-pub comes in but it doesn’t end there and it doesn’t have to work that way.
Even if you have been traditionally published there’s no guarantee that a follow-up work is going to be taken on by the publisher (or any publisher) but, if you believe in the work, the self-pub option is there again. You’re already being promoted, getting known via the trad-pub, setting up a title self-pub isn’t that hard. Again, the danger is that you mistakenly choose a vanity publisher over a self-publisher. Look at IngramSpark where you’re asked no subscription charge, file upload of $25 per file ($50 for internals and cover) and then pay per unit with a minimum order size of one book as a guideline when choosing a service.
The hybrid model extends into marketing, you’ll want to do some yourself through social media, paid-for advertising if you can afford it and, like me, attending events. My event model is a bit of a hybrid too, I attend literary cons but I don’t expect too much in the way of sales. I network, speak to people, look for contacts in the scene and the industry. I also compare my experiences, share what advice I can with others who are starting out and occasionally embarrass myself at karaoke. I intersperse Litcons with Trade cons, Film and Comic conventions are where I actually look to make sales to build the fan-base and public recognition of my works.
As I’ve noted before, the industry is in flux and no-one really knows the way forward. Some of us will be lucky enough to be those ‘out of the blue’ success stories, some of us will stumble onto and opportunity and some of us, through hard work and determination will make our own opportunity. There’s no ‘right way’ anymore, only how much work you’re prepared to put in.