Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Indie Tuesday—Characteristics of a Successful Hybrid Author

by Jessica Keller @AuthorKeller
A few weeks ago Edie shared the Characteristics of a Successful Indie Author which got me thinking about what it takes to flourish as a hybrid author. Like Edie pointed out in her post, some of the things I’m going to share today probably apply to more than just the hybrid author—but they are hats a hybrid must be able to wear—and wear well.

The term hybrid describes an author who is published in both the traditional market and self-publishes in the indie market. They produce new content for both markets, simultaneously. To do this successfully an author has to morph into different personalities. Thankfully, we’re good at using our imaginations!
Characteristics of a Successful Hybrid Author
The Juggler. As a hybrid I have to be able to handle being in the middle of writing the most exciting part of one of my indie projects and stopping that because my trade editor sent me back book edits that must be completed by the end of the week. In the same chunk of time working I’ll interview a cover designer, write the next scene in my manuscript, brainstorm a different series, spend 20 minutes marketing my latest indie, and scan over the last pass proof of my upcoming release. A hybrid has to be able to change horses midstream—while still knowing where to go back and pick up where they stopped a week/month/year before.
My writing/release schedule mapped out for the next
year. Yes, it's blurry on purpose!

The Insomniac. To meet deadlines from our publishers as well as our own
deadlines, hybrids have to be able to output a significant amount of quality work year in and year out. Many of my friends who are hybrids are up until past one in the morning working just to stay up to date on their current projects. See, in the indie market success usually goes hand-in-hand with quantity so a hybrid has to meet that demand while still getting edits and manuscripts to their trade publisher(s) on time.
Hybrids work every spare minute available. Family watching a movie? I “watch” with my laptop in the same room. Car needs an oil change? I bring my computer along so I can work while I wait. Dinner cooking? I stand with my laptop at the counter and write. You get the idea.
The Diplomat. Let’s be honest, the publishing world is a scary place right now. No one knows what will happen in the industry tomorrow. Indie and trade authors tend to go all West Side Story on each other and line different sides of the street singing about who is the better gang. A hybrid has to step away from these fights and in doing so we walk a thin line. We must keep our publisher, agent, and industry people happy—but to do well in Indie we also must be willing to trailblaze, take risks, and promote other indies. Sometimes the two paths are at odds with one another and a hybrid must choose the high road every single time.

Are the long hours, tightrope walking, and waiting worth it? Research shows that hybrid authors make more money than both their only indie or only trade published counterparts. Hybrids also enjoy a broader reading audience and higher discoverability.
Have I missed any characteristics? Are you hoping to pursue a career as a hybrid? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the different publishing paths and the different hats authors must wear.

Characteristics of a successful hybrid author from @AuthorKeller #hybrid #publishing #amwriting (click to Tweet)

Do you have what it takes to succeed as a hybrid author? @AuthorKeller shares how #publishing #hybrid #amwriting (Click to Tweet)

Jessica Keller holds degrees in both Communications and Biblical Studies. She is multi-published in both Young Adult Fiction and Inspirational Romance and has 100+ magazine and newspaper articles to her name. Her latest release is a Young Adult Fantasy - Saving Yesterday. You can find her at www.JessicaKellerBooks.com, on Twitter @AuthorKeller, on Tumblr, or on her Facebook Author Page. She lives in the Chicagoland suburbs with her amazing husband, beautiful daughter, and two annoyingly outgoing cats that happen to be named after superheroes.


  1. Thanks for the info, Jessica. Although I have four traditionally-published books and haven't yet published independently, I have a feeling I'll be doing it one of these days. This was a good picture of what I'm likely to have ahead. Thanks!

    1. Congrats! And feel free to ask questions as that comes closer for you. I have a feeling in the next few years all authors will by hybrids. It just makes sense to utilize both markets for different stories. I'm a fan of authors and books in general--they why they were published don't matter to me if it's good.

  2. So thankful that Edie has added Indie Tuesdays! Thanks, Edie. Jessica, I glean so much from your posts. I'm an Indie author, but recently had a story accepted for publication in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book coming out this Fall. Does that make me a hybrid author? I'd like to pursue the traditional route while continuing my self-publishing as well. So much to learn.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Thank you for the kind words Terri! Sometimes you do a blog post and never know if it helped anyone. It blessed me today to hear that you're enjoying Indie Tuesday.

      And you're definitely a hybrid now! Welcome to the juggling act :)

  3. Great post, Jessica! I think the insomniac portion is toughest for me. My family gets annoyed when I'm working too much. It's tough to find balance!

    1. Finding balance is definitely the hardest part of being a hybrid. I sometimes get very "off balance" around deadline time (for my trade contracts...indie I can be more flexible about). I work a full-time day job and have an 18 month old baby so my days are pretty much spoken for. I don't write until my baby's in bed and the house chores are done for the day. Sometimes that means very late nights--thankfully I do decently on little sleep...for now ;)