Friday, March 28, 2014

A Peek at the Hybrid Author: Choosing to Self-Publish

I’m giving the floor to my fab-tastic client, Donna Hosie, whose YA novel is forthcoming from Holiday House. But she is also a seasoned indie writer! Donna knew that traditional publishing wasn’t the only way to go, and that self-publishing didn’t necessarily have to be a Plan B. Far from setting a singular goal of signing her books over to a publishing house, she saw an opportunity to take control of her own destiny – or, you know, her distribution. Here's how she sees it:


Traditional or indie publishing? It’s a question more and more writers are asking themselves. It’s never been easier to go down the indie route, and with fewer imprints, it’s never been harder to chase the traditional dream.

But is it a question that writers should be asking themselves at all?

Enter stage left: the hybrid author. A hybrid author is someone who wants the cake and eats it too! A hybrid author will have an agent and hopefully a book deal (or ten!), but will still project-manage their own career by independently publishing other work.

Take me, for example. I signed with Beth Phelan a year and a half ago to represent my novel titled THE DEVIL’S INTERN. Because Beth is AgentAwesomesauce™, she successfully negotiated me a book deal with Holiday House in New York, one of the most respected publishers for children and young adults in the industry. THE DEVIL’S series is a run of four novels and we are very optimistic for its future. For my part, I trust Beth implicitly to handle that side of my traditionally published career.

But when I signed with Beth, I was also independently releasing a trilogy called THE RETURN TO CAMELOT. It was very important that this wasn’t a problem, and when Beth and I started corresponding after her offer of representation, the first question I asked was whether this was going to be an issue.

Not only was it not an issue, but Beth was happy about it.

Because here’s the big secret, and the reason why writers shouldn’t ask themselves whether to choose the traditional or indie route: progressive literary agents, (like Beth at The Bent Agency), know that being a hybrid author is good for them, good for the author, and good for the reader. 

I have spent the last two years steadily building up my author name/brand and my readership. When THE DEVIL’S INTERN is released in the Fall, there will be readers waiting to read it. I understand the publishing world because I’m at the heart of it already. I understand the process because I manage my own.  I’ve put down good foundations for a successful traditional career. It really can be a win all round.

There are differences, of course. With traditional publishing I acquiesce a lot more control, and indie publishing takes more (wo)man hours! Both routes require a huge amount of dedication and hard work, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I learn so much from having Beth in my corner, and hopefully she learns from me.

So don’t ask yourself “traditional or indie publishing?” Have your cake, eat it, and take those sprinkles on top as well!


Donna is enjoying the best of both worlds. Obviously, this isn’t for everyone and it takes a certain kind of moxie to be a hybrid author [I think Donna actually subsists on a diet of wine and chocolate so she might just be a completely different breed [of awesome)]. But you don’t have to choose between one and the other. And you don’t have to look at self-publishing as a last resort or an Island of Misfit Toys Books. Self-publishing isn’t the end, and most of the time, its sales won’t turn agents’/editors’ heads either. If you're self-publishing because you're hoping for big numbers that will catch our attention, you're going at it all wrong. It could totally happen, but I think your main focus should be on making your indie book a success for YOU; take it seriously and be your own publisher. We should be setting a new standard, celebrating our achievements -- big and small -- and exploring the indie route in a more dedicated way to find our audience.

As long as you’re committed, you can have both.

You can follow Donna’s journey on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and on her blog. Look for THE DEVIL’S INTERN (Holiday House) in Fall 2014 and her indie THE RING OF MORGANA coming this May!


  1. Thank you for the post. Donna is always so encouraging to budding writers!

  2. Loving your thoughts on this topic, Donna! I agree, this doesn't need to be an either/or situation. Both traditional and indie publishing have their upsides and downsides, so if someone wants to explore both, they should allow themselves to give in to that urge!

  3. Hi Donna and Beth, I love this article! And not just because I'm a fellow Jenny Bent-ite. I think following both paths strengthens a career, and I'm on that path, too. Wishing you the best of luck, and sharing this around my community at

    Might I add the importance of marketing, too? I've spoken to some writers who want a traditional deal because they don't want to do any marketing or social media. If a person wants to make a living as a writer, these are critical tools to learn to use. As a hybrid writer, these skills will lift your career on both traditional and indie publishing.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Great point, Jan! You have to be really committed if you want to self-publish in a way that bolsters your career -- and marketing is a huge component. And it's up to you to make it happen!

  4. I loved Donna's Camelot trilogy and I can't wait to read The Devil's Intern and Ring of Morgana. She is an inspiration to those of us stuck in the query trenches, and its so reassuring to see huge agencies like The Bent Agency promoting what's best for a writer.

    Good luck to everyone.

  5. Brava Donna! May they all sell well & bring many a smile to many a reader.

  6. This is my year of going hybrid, too! And the synergies are already starting to show their faces.