Best of Both Worlds: Hybrid Authors Up Close

In this online companion piece, Chuck Wendig gives a more in-depth description of his own evolution as a hybrid author.
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As publishing evolves with digital innovations, more and more writers are cultivating success through a combination of traditional and self-publishing. In his article “Best of Both Worlds” in the February 2014 issue of Writer’s Digest [please add link + ?lid=wdjsonlineexclusive0214issue], successful hybrid author Chuck Wendig discusses how to grow a hearty writing career across a variety of platforms, with and without a publisher, with and without an agent.

In this online companion piece, he gives a more in-depth description of his own evolution as a hybrid author.

Case Study: Becoming a Hybrid Author

by Chuck Wendig

A “hybrid” author sounds like one that was grown in a lab. Some shambling mutant of Stephen King and E.L. James breaking free of its Plexiglas enclosure, terrorizing Manhattan with its deviant prose.

Thankfully, it’s a whole lot nicer than that.

A hybrid author is one who refuses to accept that there exists One True Way up the Publishing Mountain and who embraces all the methods available. The hybrid author prefers a diverse approach to getting her work out there, which means utilizing both the traditional system of publishing and also acting as an author-publisher in order to retain control and self-publish her own work.

Everybody digs his own tunnel into writing and publishing, and everyone detonates that tunnel behind him. (The myriad ways authors get their books into the hands of readers prove that no one way to publish exists.)

Me, I worked as a freelance writer for 15 years, and when the day finally came that I wrote a novel that wasn’t the equivalent of a gassy dog (Blackbirds, the story of a girl who can see how you die just by touching you), I managed to procure an agent and eventually publication with Angry Robot Books.

Ah, but! I used the time up until publication to self-publish: a short story collection (Irregular Creatures), a YA novella (Shotgun Gravy) and a series of writing books based off my blog (terribleminds.com, where I also blog regularly about my experiences in publishing). I promoted those (lightly) over social media and gave them space at my website. I ran contests and gave out free copies and asked politely and professionally for reviews, all in an effort to drive that most elusive and effective way of increasing readership: word-of-mouth.

Those early author-published releases thus provided me with income and attention, so that when my first traditionally published book landed on shelves, I had a small but interested readership already waiting. I began my writing life as a hybrid author and I continue to explore any and all publishing options available.

Since 2011, I’ve had nine novels published traditionally, with another six on the way. And that doesn’t include additional forthcoming author-published releases, a serialized story with Fireside Fiction, short stories for various anthologies, film and TV work, game writing, and my book on writing, The Kick-Ass Writer, out in 2013 from Writer’s Digest Books.

The ground is changing beneath our feet, and it behooves us to be nimble.

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To read Chuck Wendig’s complete “Best of Both Worlds” article on how to cultivate success as a hybrid author, check out the February 2014 issue of Writer’s Digest, available for instant download now.

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