I’m a Hybrid Author? Who Knew?

autumnGood morning. It’s a beautiful  day. Autumn has arrived in all its glory. The leaves are in full color, and I have to accept the fact summer’s over for 2014. As I sit at my computer this morning, it feels as if I have a thousand things to do and not enough time to do any of them. I’m taking the weekend off to attend my husband’s high school reunion, not always a fun thing for a spouse who didn’t grow up in the same city, but one of the things you do when you’ve been married to the guy for 43 years and counting. Besides, I’ll get to see my son and my sister-in-law, and not have to make meals for three days–small price to pay.

Recently, I’ve taken a leap of faith and published two soon to be three of my books myself through Amazon. Why?

Being a published author has always been a dream, but one I’ve realized is fraught with heartache and disappointment as well as joy and excitement, but not a lot of income. I’ve become what’s now called a hybrid author. It’s a lot like the new cars. I’ve combined two publishing options together. While I still have established publishers, who come with all the bells and whistles not to mention the legitimacy associated with publishing, I’ve chosen to publish some of my work myself. This is most definitely a leap of faith and a learning experience, but things are no longer the way they used to be.

The publishing industry has changed over the past twenty years. With the astounding leaps in technology, writing a book is easier than ever–research can be done in hours instead of months, writing and editing programs abound, and you can connect with just about anyone anywhere in a matter of seconds. The advent of Kindles, Kobos, Nooks, and tablets has created a whole new and extremely convenient way to read. More and more books are being published as e-books, and for the first time in the history of publishing, authors have choices and can control the fate of their work. But that makes getting published by the big five harder than ever,especially since they have far more manuscripts to choose from as well. This year, the Harlequin Romance, So You Think You Can Write 2014, contest brought in over 460 entries. With so many manuscripts submitted, the odds of winning aren’t great.

Some people still believe unless your books are in brick and mortar bookstores, you aren’t a real writer, and while I’d love to see my books on those shelves, the reality is those stores are closing their doors, and that has to make you wonder. How many newspapers and magazines have stopped publishing hard copies? How often do you get your news online? Do you use Facebook, Twitter, or one of the other social networks? The world is a different place—scary in some way—but you have to move with the times.

Does that mean people have stopped reading? No, far from it. In fact, I’d venture to say, people read more now than ever, but they’ve moved on to digital copies. Amazon.com and its various affiliates is the largest retailer of e-books, and through their Kindle Direct Publishing platform, they give authors, like me, the ability to publish our work independently. (For a more detailed accounting of this check out this blog article. Indie vs traditional publishing)

Since many people still like to have a book in their hands, they also work in conjunction with Create Space, a do-it-yourself, print-on-demand, paper book publisher, which like the KDP program, lets an author publish his or her own work.

Is doing it yourself better than using a publisher? That’s a hard question to answer. Both methods get books into the hands of readers, but as an indie publisher, every aspect of the book is in the author’s hands.

Like several of my author friends, I had the misfortune of trusting a publisher who turned out to be unscrupulous. When Front Porch Romance closed its doors without paying its authors or staff, I was left with three orphan books. The publisher returned certain rights to me—the right over the original book, but kept others—the edits and cover. I was devastated. The hours of work I’d spent on creating those books, editing the content, proofreading until my eyes crossed, were lost, wasted. I could do one of three things—consign the books to Never-Never Land where they’d stay, in my computer or on a jump drive, until I chose to delete them, try to find a publisher who’d take previously published work, or publish it myself. The choice was a difficult one to make, but since I had to edit and revise it anyway, why not try to self-publish it?

Learning to format the book, knowing any errors in it were my responsibility, was a daunting task, one which almost brought me to my knees more than once, but I persevered. In indie publishing, a book thrives or dies on the author’s efforts alone, but as an indie publisher, all the rights to my books are mine. No one can screw me on them again. In essence, M. H. Susanne Matthews became a microscopic publishing house. With the help of my good friend Melinda De Ross and Classy Designs (http://classydesignsbycoly.wordpress.com/book-covers-made-by-classy-designs/), I began releasing those orphan books. I control their fate and the fate of any others I chose to publish this way—their edits, their formats, their distribution, their marketing, in short, everything is on my shoulders.

CP Full PrintThe Captain’s Promise, was my first toe in the water attempt at Indie publishing. Has it made me a fortune. No, but the people wCP- Front Coverho’ve read the book enjoy it, so is that not satisfaction for an author?  Anca’s covers  were beautiful and once more, the book was out there. It wasn’t making anything for me in the computer, so even if it yields less than $20.00 in the long run, that’s better than nothing. There’s another advantage to indie publishing, too. I don’t have to adhere to a particular publishing house’s style or format. I can have historical with paranormal elements to it.

The Captain’s Promise is available from Amazon.

My second venture into the world of self-publishing is my Christmas duo, Holiday Magic and The Perfect Choice.

Holiday Magic (2)Writing two books which take place at virtually the same time, where the main characters in each book attend, participate or comment on identical situations isn’t common. My twins, Georgia and Eleni Baxter, have intertwined lives and experiences. What happens to one impacts the other. The perfect choice (2)When Eleni calls Georgia in Holiday Magic, the phone conversation is from her point of view. In The Perfect Choice,  it’s the other way around. And yet, each book is carried by the plot between its her and heroine, but the underlying trope is the same–the importance of trust and honesty in love. The main plot time frame for both stories begins in October and ends at Christmas.

Holiday Magic is a reunion story, The Perfect Choice is one of first-time love. Holiday Magic  is available now from Amazon, The Perfect Choice will be available November 1st.

So, will hybrid publishing help me grow as an author? I hope so. I love to write books, especially those that don’t fit easily into a publisher’s format. We’ll see what the future brings. For now, I can consider publishing my NA fantasy with historical overtones, the one that doesn’t meet any publishing guidelines and look to the future with hope. I control my fate.

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