Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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June 12, 2024

Ten Things I’ve Learned as a Hybrid Author

by Tari Lynn Jewett

Illustration at center bottom is a book labeled my books with three arrows pointing to three illustrations at the top:  a drawing of a laptop computer labeled Indie Publishing a plus sign an illustration of a small store labeled Small press another plus sign and an illustration of a tall office building labeled traditional publishing.

I began the transition from freelance magazine and newspaper writer, to fiction writer right at the cusp of what I call “The New Indie Publishing”. I call it that, because previously the primary way to indie publish was with a vanity press. Today our publishing options as authors are truly amazing.

My first romcom was published in an anthology, so for classification purposes, very small press. I had no intention of writing for an anthology, or writing romcoms for that matter. I was working on a darker 1920’s historical fiction, but my friend, the late author, Joyce Ward, was part of the anthology, and pushed me to submit. I wrote #PleaseSayYes and was so excited that it was accepted. When the rights reverted back to me, I called on all of my experienced indie author friends for advice on indie publishing. Thank you, you know who you are!

The characters from #PleaseSayYes continued to call to me…the pandemic was in full swing, and I was happy to work on something light and hopeful, something with a happily ever after. The anthology had a Valentine’s theme.  So of course, #PleaseSayYes was focused on a Valentine’s romance. I love holidays, so as the characters talked to me I realized each of their stories should be centered on a holiday, and the #HermosaForTheHolidays series was born. 

When I’d ‘finished’ the series...who knows if it’s really finished, one of the characters with an untold story could tap me on the shoulder anytime. But, when I published the 5th book, another author friend, Claire Davon, told me about an opportunity to write a holiday story for one of her publishers, The Wild Rose Press. TWRP had a submission call for stories with a Christmas cookie theme. I was in. I wrote the story and submitted it, with the thought that if they weren’t interested, I’d indie publish the book. I was thrilled when I received an offer, and now I was working with a real publisher.

Now I was truly a hybrid author.

1. Work Hard

Whether you publish as an indie author, or with a publisher, you’re going to work hard.

As an indie author, you get to choose your editor, cover artist, deadlines, release date, etc. As a traditional author, these are generally chosen for you.

As an indie author, you coordinate everyone who works on your book…unless you can afford to pay an assistant. I’m not there yet, so this is all on me. You also foot the bill for everything up front, so the cost of editing, covers, formatting, etc. All on me. On the other hand, a publisher takes a huge cut of the profits, as an indie author…all mine.

It’s really nice to get to choose who you work with, and how the work is done, but people you’re paying may not challenge you in the same way that someone who buys your manuscript will, and they may teach you something new.

Whether you work with a publisher, or indie publish, you’re probably going to have to do all of your own marketing and promo. The publisher may offer resources, but the bulk of the work and expense will fall to you (in most cases).

With indie publishing, you can see your sales, see which advertising strategies are working, or not working, tweak your blurb if you feel it needs it, change your cover, even change the price if you want to. With traditional publishing, it will depend on your publisher how much access you have to sales information, how often you get it, and whether they’re willing to make any changes once the book is published.

As an indie author, you can turn on a dime. When readers told, me they wanted a story for one of the characters in my 5th book, even though the series was done, I was able to give them the story they wanted. I shared it in an anthology, and now that I have all of my rights back, it will be given away free when people sign up for my newsletter. As a traditional author, you have to submit a proposal to your editor, and they can say yes or no, if they say yes, it comes out on their schedule, not yours, or your readers.

You can put out indie books much more quickly than traditionally published books. Your book isn’t put on someone else’s calendar, it’s on yours, so you decide to release your books once a month, once a year, or once a decade. With a publisher, they decide, and yours isn’t the only book on their agenda, so your books may be released further apart…or they may expect you to get revisions done when you planned a vacation…or surgery.

You don’t have to make one choice or the other, you can publish both traditionally and indie, allowing yourself full control over some projects, but considerably more financial freedom from others. The nice thing about being an author in 2024, is that we have options.

Whether you publish as an indie author or with a traditional publisher, you’re going to work hard. Yes, I know that was number one, but it’s number ten as well

I’d love to know if you’re published, are you indie, traditional or hybrid? Do you prefer one option over another? If you’re not yet published, do you want to publish indie, traditional or hybrid? And why? 

WITS is delighted Tari has returned to share her insights. To learn more read her previous post: 10 Things I Learned Indie Publishing my First Book.

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About Tari

Portrait photo of Tari Lynn Jewett throwing a kiss to the camers

Tari Lynn Jewett lives in Arizona just off Route 66 with her husband of thirty-five years (aka Hunky Hubby). They have 3 amazing sons, and 2 beautiful grandsons. For more than twenty years Tari wrote freelance for magazines and newspapers, wrote television commercials, radio spots, numerous press releases, and many, MANY PTA newsletters. As much as she loved writing those things, she always wanted to write fiction…and now she is.

Tari writes light, fun romcoms, but she is also working on a historical women’s fiction series set in the Los Angeles area, spanning from the late 1920’s to the ‘50’s. These are darker, edgier full length novels. 

A voracious reader, Tari’s favorite treat is to turn off her phone and computer and curl up with an un-put-downable book. 

She also believes in happily-ever-afters,

…because she’s living hers.

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Image Credits

Image above compiled of Pixabay images by BedexpStock,  Clker-Free-Vector-Images, Sara Torda, and BeezeeStock

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16 comments on “Ten Things I’ve Learned as a Hybrid Author”

  1. Thanks for sharing your insights! You and I go way back. I couldn't be happier (and I mean that, truly) for you and your successes.

    My path has been that of an indie. I've done live pitches and enjoyed the process of distilling my books and my credentials down to tasty nuggets for an agent or publisher. But I'm a freedom and control kinda guy. Perhaps that'll hold me back from hitting the NYT bestseller list, but that's not my goal.

    My plan is to keep learning and growing so I can publish the best possible stories I can. Each and every time.

    Your point that this whole writing/publishing thing is a lot of work is so true. This is the next chapter in my life, and if I hadn't written professional and been a marketer in my past life, this would be considerably more difficult.

    But there's joy to be experienced, that's for sure. And there as so many opportunities to connect with other folks on this journey...like you and me connecting at the RWA conference in San Diego at a pitching session.

    Be well, my friend. And keep telling your stories.

    (I really want to read your Roaring Twenties historical fiction!!!)

    1. Thank you Chris! We have shared this journey for a long time. I remember you staying out in the hallway with me at that San Diego conference, trying to help me call my nerves before a pitch. I wasn't able to calm them, but I knew I had a friend sharing this path. I love your books, and I'm proud of both of us for pushing ahead! Of course, I've taken some time off the last couple of years to spend time with my grandson, but I know that you understand that. Glad to be sharing this journey with you!

  2. Thank you for your insights. I'm published with a hybrid publisher. I am quite happy with them. They do a lot of marketing, and also produce merchandise connected with our books. They do all the usual things, like editing and formatting, producing covers and blurbs--things I would have difficulty with myself. And also things that would cost, probably, over a thousand pounds if I were to use independent people.
    They also do translations and find narrators for audio books.
    I wouldn't be able to afford to publish independently, and so my books would not have come to fruition. Also, the time between submission, acceptance and publishing is much less than with traditional publishers, albeit slower than indie.

    1. Thank you for reading. I think the amazing thing about being a writer at this time is the options that we have for reaching our goals! Wishing you the best with your writing!

  3. Agree with everything you've written here. Back "in the day' I went through the gauntlet of agents, editors, publishers, my share of rejection slips. Now that we have so many options, I said, nope, ain't gonna do that again. My personal philosophy: "I will never write another query letter. Ever." I am self published, working on Book #4 (out this fall), having the time of my life.

    1. Aren't we lucky that we don't have to go through all of that anymore? It's amazing how the industry has changed, and keeps changing. And I love being able to write the book I want to write, and not worry about whether it'll ever see the light of day. It's in our control! Thank you for reading!

  4. I agree. If you want to see your work published and read by fans, it's a lot of work no matter which path you follow. I've had agents and agreements with publishers, stories published, and disagreements with publishers and deals falling through. I always love the work, but I like it much better when I'm the one who makes the final decision.

    1. It's definitely nice to have that final decision! And to cut through all of the red tape involved in traditional publishing. You save the work of finding an editor, cover artist, uploading your work at retailers, but you may go through much more work submitting, and dealing with rejections, resubmits, etc. Writing, including the business end, is an emotional process.

  5. Love this, Tari! As the owner of a small publishing house, I love the way you've compared the different paths and highlighted the differences. Congratulations on your ongoing success!

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