The Hybrid Author: A Guide to Publishing by Dianne G. Sagan

The Hybrid Author

About the Book

Bestselling author Dianne G. Sagan brings you her new guide to the evolving publishing industry with candor, insight and personal experience as a seasoned hybrid author.

In this second edition Mrs. Sagan answers every request from readers of the first edition. You’ll immediately find:

•Active resource links for all your writing needs
•Discoverability tips to reach current and evolving markets
•Advice for the Author/Entrepreneur that you can put to work today

Book Excerpt

Chapter One

Technology today is rapidly changing many of the things writers do to become authors. Typewriters have given way to highly sophisticated word processors and printers. Computers can perform complex tasks with graphics, layout and formatting. “Expert system” software puts powerful marketing and accounting software at our fingertips. The internet is an essential tool for conducting research and selling our work.

Of all the activities associated with writing books, perhaps the most profound revolution for writers has been in the area of getting their work published. Writers can now choose varied paths to publication and success in their literary careers, each path unique but all sharing common goals: to express our thoughts, tell a story and find readers. Two of these publishing paths have been around for ages, but only recently has the industry given those writers who publish both ways a name. We are called “hybrid authors.”

On February 12, 2013 at the first Author (R)evolution Day in New York City, the O’Reilly’s Tools of Change 2013 event began. Co-sponsored by Publishers Weekly, the conference was a full day of breakout sessions and discussions for authors, agents and independent author (or “indie”) service providers. The opening keynote speaker, Cory Doctorow, brought up the idea of multiple publication paths using today’s technology and evolving market, and he first coined the term “hybrid author.” Since then the term has received both increasing attention and greater respect. While this term originally applied to an author who chooses from both the traditional publishing path and the self-publishing path, I personally believe that there is much more to it than that and that there are more options for publishing written work today than ever before.

Twenty years ago a writer could seek a traditional publishing house through either personal query or a literary agent. If he used an agent then the writer worked through that agent to find a publisher for his book. At that time the only real alternative to a traditional publisher was for an author to pay a printer to publish his book, usually in small quantities, store the books in his garage and sell them out of his car. These companies who printed books in exchange for a fee became known as “vanity presses” because they printed anything that the client paid for, as opposed to the legitimate publishers who put the writer through an acceptance process and produced professionally-edited, (usually) high-quality products and sold them to the market.

We now live in a vastly different publishing world, one that is in constant flux – changing on a month-to-month basis the way things work and the way the industry looks. We live, write, publish and read in a 24/7 world. The internet explosion and its effect on the way people purchase books is the biggest change, making publishing more accessible internationally to both authors and readers. has emerged as the global retail giant for book sales. After the recent Amazon-Hachette dispute that lasted over a period of months, the final contract settlement left a significant change in the publishing industry.

I, myself, am a product of this publishing revolution. I’ve dedicated the past fifteen years to writing professionally, and I have successfully followed the paths of both traditional publishing and self-publishing. Other authors may be better-known today, but the books I’ve ghostwritten have sold thousands of copies and six of them have achieved “Best Seller” status. I am a hybrid author.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “hybrid” as something or someone “whose background is a blend of two diverse cultures or traditions; something that is formed by combining two or more things; something (as a power plant, vehicle, or electronic circuit) that has two different types of components performing essentially the same function.” Simply said, a hybrid is considered a cross or combination of two different things. Since we are only considering the term as it applies to writers and the publishing industry, I think it’s fair to say that our hybrid is a an author who combines two or more modes of publication.

The reality is that writers today aren’t confined to just two paths to publication or limited formats in which to produce a book. Today’s technology has made viable at least four publishing choices, according to many in the publishing industry. When we add to these publishing choices those authors who are capable of taking advantage of all four paths, we have what the restaurant industry calls cafeteria options. We can have one entrée or several, one side dish or many, one dessert or all of them. It depends on what we want and how much time we are willing to dedicate to other facets of our craft. I believe that writing professionally is much more than just following a dream. It is a matter of learning the business side of writing and making informed business decisions about where, when and how our work is published.

The lines between traditional publishing and self-publishing are less distinct today. Between the spring of 2014 and the spring of 2015 self-publishing has become much more sophisticated than it ever was, and I believe that authors need to gain a broader knowledge of the way the whole publishing industry works.
The first step is learning about what publishing options exist and what differentiates them from each other.

Types of Publishing Choices:

1. Traditional Publishing
This type of publishing is the most commonly known. The publisher receives manuscripts from aspiring authors, either through an agent or by direct submission, evaluates them and selects the most promising for publication. The publisher then offers a contract to the author and, if it is accepted, shepherds the manuscript from raw submission to the polished product that appears on the bookstores’ shelves.

2. Subsidy Publishing
This type of publishing is very much like traditional publishing with two exceptions. First, the author usually retains more of the publication rights than traditional
publishers demand, and second, the author bears a part of the cost of producing the final work.

3. Indie/Self-Publishing
In this form of publishing the author publishes his own work. He retains all rights to his work, and he either performs all of the other tasks associated with publication, such as editing, layout and marketing, either by himself or through contracting the services of specific professionals.

4. Vanity Publishing
This kind of publishing is targeted at those who are willing to pay all of the costs of production to see their book in print. The term “vanity publisher” may be a bit unfair, but the essential nature of this kind of publication is that even work that is not well-written can still appear with a real cover, real binding, and the author’s name prominently displayed.

We will describe each of these publication models, along with their advantages and disadvantages, in later chapters. In any case, it serves a useful purpose to keep these various publication paths in mind when considering just what a hybrid author is and whether you want to become one, yourself.

Dianne Sagan

About the Author

Dianne G. Sagan, Bestselling author of 26 books and counting, has been writing professionally for fifteen years and facilitating groups for over 25 years. She’s authored ten nonfiction books as a ghostwriter, six of which are bestsellers. Her clientele includes writers from the United States, Canada, the UK, Austria, Oman, and Australia.

Ms. Sagan has traditionally published Christian fiction and women’s fiction. Her best known fiction works are her Women of the Bible series (published by Buoy Up Press, Denton, TX) and includes Rebekah Redeemed, The Fisherman’s Wife, Miriam’s Room, all three Amazon bestsellers (42 weeks), and Mary’s Exile, released Christmas 2014. She self-publishes nonfiction books on writing, including Tools and Tips for Writers, The Hybrid Author, and The Hybrid Author Companion Journal. Sagan’s works in progress include more Christian fiction with her traditional publisher and a new mystery series to debut soon. Dianne loves the hybrid author’s path and enjoys all its options.

For five years Ms. Sagan wrote regular op/ed pieces for the Amarillo Globe News, a regional newspaper with a circulation of 400,000. She has published articles for various internet article banks and guest blog tours. Her work has appeared in organization newsletters, including Panhandle Professional Writers. Sagan is a popular speaker at writer’s groups in her area, in Denton Writers (Dallas-Ft. Worth area), and at regional writer’s conferences like OWFI (Oklahoma City, OK). She taught writer’s classes for the Creative Arts Program in conjunction with the Amarillo YMCA and Amarillo Public Library. Sagan enjoys speaking at area libraries and book clubs.

Visit her websites: The Hybrid Author and Dianne Sagan

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