Richard Wright

author of strange, dark fictions


Publishing Thy Fearful Symmetry: Hybrid!

I was tremendously excited this week to discover that I’m not just an author, I’m a hybrid author. As you would expect, I ran immediately to a mirror for a thorough self-examination.

To my tremendous disappointment, no vestigial wings. No half-formed gills. Nothing, physically, to mark me as different from any of those other authors you hear about.

I was gutted.

Hybrid author appears to be the new buzzword for those of us who want to pursue both traditional and self-publishing at the same time. That’s always been my intention, but now I’m an actual category. I can’t tell you how thrilling this is. A category! For me!

I suspect it’s actually come about because, for reasons both valid and foolish, the term ‘self-published’ still carries a stigma, at least within the publishing world. It remains difficult to explain to some authors and publishers that you’re not actually self-publishing because you can’t find anyone willing to take your book on. Some of us are doing it because it’s a new avenue, and the prospect of taking control of some part of our career (instead of being wholly dependent on the decisions of others) can have tremendous appeal, for a host of reasons.

At the moment, I’m working on one novel (The December Book – you thought I’d forgotten…) that I’ll be trying very hard to find a traditional publisher for. I’m working on a novella for second publisher. I’m also starting to think, in very loose terms right now, about next year’s self-published book (those who remember Dexter Lomax may be in for an overdue treat). When i write it, it will be with the express intention of self-publishing it. It won’t be rejected from any other publishing houses, because I won’t be sending it to them. That’s how I’ve decided to run my writing career, after experimenting with Cuckoo last year and Thy Fearful Symmetry right now.

The strange thing is, being a hybrid author doesn’t feel much different from being a plain old author. It may be the case that this is jargon nobody outside a relatively small group of invested parties really cares about. Shhh. Don’t spread it around, but as you all know it’s the book, stupid.

Imagine a world where fire rains from the sky at the same time as pure, white snow. A world where the dead walk the Earth. Faced with that, logic goes out the window. The people in this story are raw and real. Broken and sullied. Terrified. – Jessica Torres, Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile

On to Thy Fearful Symmetry specifically. So far, after a flurry of activity during and after the period I released it for free, sales have been slow. This is pretty much inevitable. I posted recently about how I’m unwilling to spend much of my time battering people over the head with the book and demanding it be bought, and that remains the case. By taking that approach though – trusting the book to find readers over time – I’ve reduced its instant visibility considerably. This is likely to remain the case with my self-published novels. When I publish them, I’m committing them to a long game of slow discovery. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever see them on a bestseller list, but I’m fine with that.

What does seem to work, as expected, is to let word of mouth do its thing. Over at Amazon and Goodreads, the two places I tend to keep an eye on to see how the book is being received, the first few reader reviews have started to appear. So far, most people who have taken a minute to post something have loved the book. This is tremendously gratifying. It always is, of course, but when you’re working without a publisher to reassure you, you really don’t know if you’ve done a good job until the first non-partisan readers (ie, not yer mum) tell you so. The first formal book review has also appeared, from Jessica at Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophileand it’s a good one.

Every time somebody tells other people about the book, a few people buy it. That’s encouraging, particularly because those new buyers already know that they like the sound of the novel. Makes it all the more likely they’re going to enjoy it too. Thanks to everybody who has taken a few moments to tell somebody about it, whether online or off. You don’t owe me the time it takes to do so, and I’m always surprised and flattered when you offer it anyway. The readers the book has found so far are partly due to you. I suspect new readers will find it in much the same way.

Of course, I’m not done yet. The Kindle edition is only one of many, and I’m now putting the paperback together to launch at Anthocon in November, and getting various other ebook formats ready for release at the same time. If you’ve been waiting for the book to appear for something other than the Kindle, there’s not long to go. Onwards!

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