Pub Rants

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The latest buzz phrase in digital publishing is the “hybrid” author. In short, that means an author who is both digitally self-publishing and partnering with a traditional publisher. The hybrid aspect can work in a variety of ways such as…

1) Author has kept digital rights but partners with a publisher for the physical print edition.

2) Author has series that she/he is self-publishing digitally but also has a series or books with a traditional publisher so is publishing simultaneously in more than one venue.

According to stats presented at January’s Digital Book World, hybrid authors make 15% to 20% more than their traditionally published counterparts. In other words, it pays to be a hybrid author. But now this phrase is starting to be kicked around when it comes to agents and agenting. So what does it mean in that context? I’ve got a couple of bullet points to share.

1) Hybrid agents place authors with publishers but also assist clients to self-publish without being a publisher themselves.

2) Hybrid agents take on authors to simply sell foreign and film and let the other stuff evolve over time.

3) Hybrid agents get creative on new ways to manage/license a right or handle a property (think Rowling’s Pottermore site as an example of hybrid agenting to the max).

4) Hybrid agents are flexible. They don’t stick with the “this is how agenting has been done for X number of years” and that might mean allowing clients to self-publish on their own but be ready to do a print-only deal.

This past week I sat on a publishing panel here in Denver at the Auraria campus, which houses the University of Denver, Metro State, and the Community College of Denver. One of the questions asked was this: “what do you miss from how publishing used to be five years ago.”

My answer?  “Nothing.”

Hybrid agents don’t long for the past. We are solely focused on the future. Amen.

16 Responses

  1. Tiana Smith said:

    Interesting. I’ve never really thought about how agents can help authors who are self-publishing. I’d be interested to read more on the subject 🙂

  2. Sharon Maas said:

    Guess that makes me a hybrid author, then! My agency, Trident Media, has an E-Book department that does just that, and I’m about to self-publish one of my out-of-print novels as an e-book. In the meantime, for me my new work I will definitely be looking for a trade publlisher.

  3. Beth said:

    Hi Kristin, Do you have an email address that is not for queries? I’d like to invite you for a guest post, if you would be interested.

  4. A.J. Larrieu said:

    I know it’s dangerous to predict the future, but it’s hard for me to imagine it without hybrid authors & hybrid agents. Some projects lend themselves to self-publishing, others make more sense as traditionally published books. This is the view my agent and I are taking in my career, and I couldn’t be happier to have a partner who’s forward-thinking and flexible. Hallelujah.

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  6. Bob Mayer said:

    Kristen– I remember sitting on a panel with you at RT and you were definitely looking ahead.

    While ‘hybrid’ might seem to be a new catch phrase, it’s only really catching on. I blogged about it in June 2011, suggesting it was the way of the future.

    What is new is that others are seeing it as a part of the overall publishing scheme. Your recent deal for Hugh Howey for print rights shows that the reality is sinking in, even in NY.

    All the best with it!

  7. Patrice Fitzgerald said:

    Good for you for being on the cutting edge of this trend. I’m watching Hugh Howey’s success with great interest, since I’m one of the writers he has encouraged to publish (and charge for) stories based in his “WOOL” world. There’s little doubt that publishing relationships will be crafted more and more creatively as the environment changes around us and the economics make that critical.

    P.S. Met you briefly at the final Maui Writers Conference. You were great on a panel there in… 2009?

    Patrice, author of “The Sky Used to be Blue: a Silo story”

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  9. Michael J. Sullivan said:

    Without question hybrid is the way to go. It’s time that the big traditional publishing houses realize that authors have several viable alternatives to get their work to readers and they need to adjust their business practices and their contracts to meet the needs of the author or risk losing out on profitable titles. It’s also good to see agents that are breaking the molds and realizing that the best way to remain relevant with all the changes going on is to continue to provide value to the author and find new ways for them to extend their reach.

  10. Ric "The Turtle" Ryan said:

    I am happy to remake your acquaintance. Funny how you loose people on the internet and then find them again. Just got my Writer’s Digest and I said to myself I know Kristin. Last I read on her blog she was traveling more than blogging and it evidently is paying off. Congratulations. Hopefully I do not loose you again. Love your new site. May have to consider the change myself, but I am pretty happy where I am at. Not a lot of traffic but growing.

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