Hybrid routes to publishing

In the bad old days when authors were told not to put anything online prior to obtaining that magical mega book deal (which doesn’t really exist) there was one option, and one only: traditional publishing. Then, with the rise of online publishing a kind of virtual free-for-all happened, where suddenly it became possible to become master of your own destiny. Oh, the freedom.

Nowadays I’m hearing exponential numbers of stories about authors who are masters of their destinies. Unconstrained by either of the above publishing models, they do a bit of both.

Yesterday, a writing colleague told me the story of her friend, a self-published author who distributed business cards at literary festivals and book fairs. On one side she printed her name and on the other, the name of her book and the website address of her author platform. Now she has a five book deal with one of the big six.

See, there are many ways to skin a cat.

Researching this approach I couldn’t help but notice how the process of self-publishing hones the brain. To run my own self-publishing experiment, I will use my very first book, ‘Borderliners’. The product is ready (written) but needs to be packaged up and marketed – a task which is easier talked about that actually done properly. Everything, from the blurb to the buzz must be professionally executed. And it must be smart. Audience-message-medium, here I come.

It is entirely logical that a self-published author should find it easier than an unpublished one to secure a traditional publishing deal. This kind of author has had to learn the hard way: how to pitch direct to their consumer – to even know exactly who that consumer is and what will press their buttons, to understand when and what they read and what will resonate most of all. It’s a big challenge. Then they will have had to work out how to stand out against the competition. Essentially, a successful self-published author can say to an agent or a publisher – I know what you’re up against and I can reassure you I’ve learned how to create great products which have a market.