September asked me to write a post about my experience with being a hybrid author, which (for those not in the know) means being both self-published and traditionally published. Many well-known authors are now hybrids, having years ago made their name as bestselling, traditionally published authors, and have recently released their backlists through self-publishing. Other authors make it big on their own and then are offered mega contracts by big New York publishers who can help those superstars achieve things that are difficult to attain through avenues open to self-published authors.
My story is a little different. I wrote my first two books in the late nineties back in the days when self-publishing basically didn’t exist. The publishing world was ruled by New York and you had to first find an agent and they had to usher you through the golden gates of NYC. Of course, as with most fledgling authors, I had no idea what I was doing and my first manuscripts died painful deaths and are buried in deep graves, never to see the light of day again. Ten years later, and with kids off to college, I started writing again (after attending a gazillion writing classes to improve my craft). The book was a Native American historical adventure and was the first book I sold to a small press in 2010 and it was published in 2011. It sold about 250 copies.
At the time when I reentered the publishing world, there was a stigma over self-publishing and authors who did so were considered sub-par. I got sucked into that errant mindset, and sold my next four books to small presses. Bad mistake. On the up side, small presses will give you editing, create your book cover, do all the formatting, put your books up on all the sites, and some will even make your book available for print-on-demand. On the down side, small presses are only doing simple tasks that with a little research you can do yourself, and then they take up to 75% of your profits. They don’t have the money or the staff to help you with promotion. For example, if your book does moderately well…let’s say it earns Amazon royalties of $35,000 (yes, that is moderately well). The small press I was with would have taken $28,700 of the profits and I would have earned $6,300. I’ll put it another way. Editing, a cover and formatting just cost you $28,700. Hello? Even if you hired all that out, it shouldn’t cost you more than $1000.
So, I self-published my next five books at which time I really started making money. Then I won a Kindle Scout contract for A Highland Knight’s Desire at 50% royalties. I’ll stop here for a moment. Being in the first wave of Kindle Scout gave me a ton of free advertising. My cover with a link to buy my book was in USA Today, Digital Book World, Publisher’s Weekly, and a number of other magazines/websites. The decision was calculated to help gain PR and to find new readers, and it accomplished my goal. The only problem is now I’d like my rights back to that book because it’s part of a series…but I digress.
I then self-published my next six books and they performed well, but I wasn’t seeing any exponential growth. I did some research and learned that 50% of books sold in my genre (historical romance) are actually still sold in print. Though I have print books (through Create Space), I am basically missing that market.
So, with a plan in mind, I sought out an agent, and going against all the advice of my author friends, I decided I wanted to go traditional—go to the Big Apple and take my chances with the big guns…maybe just for a three-book series, but that decision will be made later. I found the agent and signed a three-book deal with Grand Central Publishing. It wasn’t for a gazillion dollars because I have only done moderately well at self-publishing and haven’t become wealthy enough to buy a house in the Seychelles or a yacht sailing the Caribbean. But it is a good move for me because I want to be in mass market paperbacks. I want to be in Barnes and Noble and in Target. But moreover, I want to reach that 50% of my audience who is still buying books in paperback. And the promo I’ll receive from GCP can’t hurt either.
Will I lose money over self-publishing? Probably in the short term, but if my plan gains me more readers, there is a chance it will be profitable in the long term. Everyone has a different path they must follow on their road to success. This is mine. It is filled with calculated risk. The best part? I get to write every day.
About the Author:
Amy Jarecki is the author of more than twenty novels and writes predominantly Scottish historical romance. A descendant of an ancient Lowland clan, she adores Scotland. Though she now resides in southwest Utah, she received her MBA from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. She is an award winning author, an Amazon All-Star author and has made Amazon’s top 100 list. Amy can be contacted through her website at www.amyjarecki.com.
The Valiant Highlander (Amy's latest release!)
The Valiant Highlander is Amy Jarecki's latest novel--it just came out this summer:
When Sir Donald MacDonald, Baronet of Sleat meets trews-wearing, musket-wielding, redheaded Mary of Castleton, he’s completely flummoxed. Such a woman would never fit in to his aristocratic way of life. And Mary wants nothing to do with her father’s wishes for her betrothal. Indeed, the two agree on one thing: They are completely, utterly and inarguably incompatible.
But when Mary is abducted from Dunscaith Castle and spirited away in Sir Donald’s sea galley, the baronet has no choice but to mount a rescue. When his plans are thwarted at every turn, Donald and Mary are thrown in a tumultuous race for their very lives. Though destiny brings them together, Don must face the truth smoldering in the recesses of his heart. Can he cast aside his ideals and declare his love for the saucy Highland lass?