Rise of the Hybrid Author

To Self Publish or Not

Not long ago, literary agents sold books to publishers, publishers sold books to booksellers, and booksellers sold books to the reading public. But as the book publishing industry continues to consolidate and contract, mid-list authors find it increasingly difficult to land contracts with their previous publisher. Enter the new hybrid author.

While the definition of hybrid author remains fluid, the term generally means a traditionally published author who occasionally self-publishes when the project is served best by taking full ownership.

When To Go Hybrid
First, make sure you have a platform to sell your books. Successful hybrid authors know their readers, have access to their reader’s contact information via newsletters, emails, fan mail, and usually have an extensive social media reach. If, as an author, you are doing the bulk of the marketing and moving the majority of the books, hybrid may be a good option for you. Here are three publishing options for hybrid authors.

Traditional Publisher

  • Large advance (any figure over $1000)
  • Heavily invested in bookstore distribution
  • Submits your work to prestigious review outlets
  • Physical location with salaried employees
  • Prints books offset press and stores them in distribution centers
  • Pay royalties on a quarter or semi-annual basis

Advantages of a Traditional Publisher
Traditional publishing remains the gold standard. Often you receive an advance, validation or your work (the house is paying you to write), and the prestige of reviews, bookstore distribution, and hope that your book will become a best seller. While the number of slots continues to dwindle, remaining loyal to a house (and waiting longer for a contract) may pay dividends later.

Small Press

  • None or a very small advance ($50 to $200)
  • Very little bookstore and library exposure
  • Few salaried employees
  • Virtual staff
  • Ability to adjust or adapt a title after its release
  • Agile marketing
  • Treat imprints as consumer brands
  • Use print–on-demand
  • Heavily promotes ebooks
  • Higher royalty percentages than with traditional houses

Advantages of a Small Press
Small press publishing gives debut and mid-list authors the chance to write and sell more books – provided their titles sell a reasonable number of copies. With a lower overhead, a small press doesn’t need to sell as many copies to recoup its investment. Many mid-list authors find that a small press is the best option since the author does not pay for the book’s production yet still retains some input in the book’s title, cover, and marketing.

Self Publishing

You pay for the production of your book, marketing services, and / or may be required to purchase a certain number of books.

According to Bowker, the number of self-published titles in 2013 “increased to more than 458,564, up 17 percent over 2012 and 437 percent over 2008.” Bowker’s data is based on ISBNs issued. It’s widely acknowledged that self-published authors frequently avoid buying an ISBN, so the number of titles is certainly larger.

Advantages of a Self Publishing
Self-publishing give authors the most control over their books. Authors can often buy books for much lower than what a small press might offer. This is important if you are a speaker and expect to move most of your books at the back of the room. Many self-pub firms offer extensive marketing for a fee. With self-pub, you risk your money but have more control and receive a greater share of the profits. Below are several self publishing firms.

(Note: The listing of these links does not represent our endorsement of these companies. We define self publishing as any firm that requires you to spend money in order to have your book published.)

An Open Letter From Your Publisher

An open letter from your publisherI remember your book. I recall when you pitched the idea and how excited you where when you emailed to announce you signed your contract. I often reflect upon the difficulty we had matching the cover and title to your pre-conceived ideas of how the book should look, the struggles with editing, proofing, and those way-to-many corrections.

I remember your book.


In the past few months I’ve come to live by the words of Pastor Mark Batterson: “Pray as if your success depends on God and work as if it depends on you.”

Each day I review our marketing and production strategy and look for ways to improve both. Each day I seek God’s blessing for your book.  I will not give up on its success.


Some question whether LPC publishes too many books. We know our staff is stretched thin, ill-equipped to handle the workload, and quite frankly, not always as professional as we should be. We do the best we can but that’s no excuse for shoddy work.

And so I pray for your book and ask God to look past my flaws and bless your words.

My ministry partner, Cindy Sproles, and I started Christian Devotions Ministries because we believed certain authors deserve “the chance” to see their words in print. As the book publishing industry continues to consolidate and shrink, we still feel called to advance – called to publish more books, take greater risks, and expand our boundaries with great faith.

Launching your book was an act of faith.

This is why LPC seeks authors who are eager for “a chance” to do all they can to make their book a success.

LPC works hard to give authors as many tools as possible for the promotion of their book. We study market trends, take classes at writers’ conferences, connect with vendors, and recommend what we believe are the best marketing practices within the industry. But at the end of each day I know I haven’t done enough. Did all I could, but it’s never enough.

This is why we depend on you.

We need you to believe in your book as much as we do. We need you to pray for your book’s success the way we do. We need you to promote other LPC authors and their books the way they promote your book.

You have heard me say before that silo-platform-building (me, me, me promotion) is at odds with the message of Christ. Jesus did not say, “Do for yourself, as you wish others would do for you.” He calls us to help our neighbor, serve others, and fan the flame of encouragement in our brothers and sisters. In short, we’re to tweet, post, pin, and write reviews for others with the same enthusiasms we use to promote our own book.

I don’t know why you signed with LPC, I really don’t. I do know you took a leap of faith. And for that I am grateful.

I am now asking you to take another step of faith. I am asking you to believe in your book and believe that God is at work in LPC, spreading His Message through a variety of voices.

If you will do that, reply in the affirmative to this email and I will add you to a new Pay If Forward email list of LPC authors committed to supporting and praying for one another.

Thanks for listening.

And thanks for believing in the work of LPC and CDM.


(All typos are my own. Feel free to borrow and include in your next book.)

Below are a few of the books we’ve published this summer.

Paul's Letters To The Early Church Living Like Lions perf5.000x8.000.indd Chapel Springs Revival

Daddy, Can You Make Me Pancakes? America's Star-Spangled Story - Celebrating 200 years of the National Anthem Enduring Faith - An 8-Week Devotional Study of the Book of Hebrews Messiah to the Messed Up - Because I'm a mess, you're a mess, and we all need a Messiah

The Top Ten Mistakes Every Author Needs to Know before Clicking “Self Publish” – Eddie Jones

The Top Ten Mistakes Every Author Needs to Know before Clicking “Publish”Mistake #1 -Spend Thousands with a Self Publishing Firm

The average print self-published book sells about 100-150 copies – and most of these are to friends and family. Many self-pub companies will proof your manuscript but fail to do substantial edits. They sell you marketing plans that seem impressive but do not generate sales Again, most self published books sell 300 copies or less. “Rather than publish hundreds of thousands of copies of a few books, Lulu’s mission is to publish 100 copies of 100,000 books.”~ Publishers Weekly

Mistake #2 -Get a Friend or Family Member to Design the Cover

Sure, you know someone who is a graphic designer, but do they know the CreateSpace specs? Have they worked with a Lightening Source template? Do they know the top three colors that sell women’s books? Are they experts in font design, interior layout, and know what current book designs are trending?

Mistake #3 -Fail to Hire a Content Editor

Critique groups are great but you need two and possibly three editors on every book. If you are going to spend your money hire a content editor to give you macro and micro edits. (Preferably one that has actually worked for a publishing house.) Follow up with a proof editor to catch all the grammar and odd phrasing. Enlist sharp-eyed friends to be your beta readers. Only then are you ready to consider self-publishing.

Mistake #4 -Think the Book Will Sell Itself

No book sells itself.  As the author, you are responsible for the care and feeding of your book. No one else cares for your book the way you do. If God placed this story on your heart then do not abandon it at birth. This is your baby; care for it!

Mistake #5 -Try to Sell to Bookstores

Bookstores do not want your self-published book. They want income, and lots of it. That’s why they sell items other than books. If a bookstore agrees to carry your book or allow you to hold a book signing they are doing YOU a favor. Be gracious, thank them, but do not expect a bookstore to make your book a best seller.

Mistake #6 -Price Your Book to High

You are not Nicholas Sparks or John Grisham so do not expect the consumer to pay top dollar for your book. You may think your book is worth $14.95 but the consumer determines the perceived value of your book. Create an attractive entry-level price, grow legs under your book, and increase the price only after your book has sold hundreds.

Mistake #7 -No Kindle Version of Your Book

You will make more money selling Kindle copies of your book than you ever will selling print. Kindle copies cost less to produce and produce more income for you. Once you understand this you are miles ahead of most authors.

Mistake #8 -Think a Major Publisher Will Want  Your Self-Published Book

They will not. You gave birth to a book. It is yours. A large publisher does not want your book unless it has sold thousands – as in twenty to thirty thousand.  And if you self-published and sold thirty thousand copies and made $1.50 profit on each sale why would you WANT to give a publisher 70% of that profit?

Mistake #9 -Publish a Poorly Written Book

Sometimes an editor cannot fix a manuscript and some books should never be published. First novels, even second and third, are seldom ready for publication. But the allure of self-publishing remains. Fight the urge to see your name in print. Instead, learn the craft. Go to conferences. Sit under faculty who have sold to major houses. Learn from their mistakes – not yours.

Mistake #10 – Ignore Mistakes 1-9 and Think Your Book is the Exception

It is not. The Shack was an exception – and still needs a good content editor. Writing, publishing, and selling a book is hard work. You want it to be hard. Otherwise, all books – even great books – would sell for a penny. Accept that you will have to write a great book, market it, hire editors, cover and book designers, beg for Amazon reviews and be satisfied selling 20 Kindle copies a month for a long time before readers recognize your book is worth $3. Accept that truth and you might be ready to self-publish.