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Hail to the hybrid author

HybridAuthorsWhen I started writing romantic fiction in 2009, self-publishing was called vanity publishing. It was something only the desperate did. Or those who’d been suckered by some slimy, snake-oil publisher. It was something RWA warned us against: paying to get published.

We should be getting paid for our work.

What a difference four years makes. Sure, RWA still urges writers to get paid for their hard work, but now they’re helping us figure out how, even if we want to do it by self-publishing.

At last year’s conference in Anaheim, there were a handful of self-publishing workshops, but it was still something that many of us considered a last resort, or something only those who wrote “weird” cross-genre-hard-to-categorize books did.

This year was a whole different story. The self-publishing track in Atlanta was teeming with best selling self-pubbed authors like Bella Andre, Barbara Freethy, and Courtney Milan sharing their secrets to success, along with the pitfalls. I even gave a workshop on formatting e-books via Scrivener. Many of the workshops were packed-to-bursting, standing-room-only affairs.

Four years after I started with a dream to get plucked out of the slush pile by New York, I joined the frenzy of writers angling to learn everything we could about how to make it on our own, how to take control of our writing careers.

I’m not saying self-publishing is the only way to go. There are many for whom the validation of New York—and seeing their book on a shelf at Target or Barnes & Noble—is a the most important thing. And that’s okay too. In fact, many of us would like to try both.

One of the terms I heard a lot at this year’s conference was “hybrid author”. A hybrid author is one who’s published in more than one way, some combination of self-published and traditionally or e-first/e-only pubbed. The beauty with self-publishing is that it doesn’t rule out a traditional contract down the road. And if you self-publish well, it might even bring New York to your door with a print contract.

On the other side, many traditionally published authors are leveraging their print audiences by self-publishing. They might not sell as many books, but their royalties are higher. I heard over and over from hybrid authors that they were making more from their self-published titles than their traditional ones.

I think for many of us, hybrid is the future.

Original photo by: By Mariordo Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz (Own work) CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Friendship, research, and craft: RWA13

RWAbadgeI spent last week at the Mecca for romance writers, RWA’s National Conference, which took place in Atlanta this year. I listened to inspiring, educational, and sometimes heart wrenching speeches by the likes of Nora Roberts, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Courtney Milan, Cathy Maxwell, and Kristan Higgins.

On my annual tour with the Kiss of Death (KOD) chapter–for writers of romantic mystery and suspense–the Atlanta firefighters shared their lifestyle, equipment, and stories. And, for the fourth year in a row, I made a new friend. The KOD tour is always worth every penny.

ATLFireTruckAt the conference, I learned about self-publishing from best sellers Bella Andre, Barbara Freethy, and Gerri Russell. A former green beret provided information about weapons, training, operations, and jargon. A cop-turned-writer shared undercover procedures and interesting stories from her time working narcotics for the Los Angeles sheriff’s department.

Plus there were the craft sessions. Characterization, hooks, suspense, plotting, and more. On Saturday morning, I even gave my own workshop on creating e-books with Scrivener.

There’s nothing quite like a whole week of rubbing shoulders with successful and aspiring authors, rekindling old relationships, and making new friends. An entire week surrounded by people who “get” me. Those who understand that particular brand of crazy that makes us writers.

That’s why I go to conference.

Hanging with my Kiss & Thrill blog sisters, Manda Collins and Sarah Andre, in Atlanta.

Hanging with my Kiss & Thrill blog sisters, Manda Collins (L) and Sarah Andre (R), in Atlanta.

Georgia on my mind (RWA13)

Out for a run with Laura Griffin in Anaheim.

Out for a run with Laura Griffin in Anaheim.

Next week is the Romance Writers of America National Conference in Atlanta. I have so much to do!

I think my wardrobe shopping is done. I just need to determine each day’s outfit, try it on, and take a picture for Evernote so I won’t forget what I planned to wear. (Yes, I’m THAT type. You’re surprised?) This is how I stay organized and limit what I take to one carry on suitcase and a tote bag. That’s right, I get two cocktail dresses, heels, five days of professional wear, evening outfits, workout clothes, toiletries, and all my shoes into one bag.

Rolling the clothes is key. As is limiting shoes. Luckily, I’m not a shoe hound. 😉

Newbie me with AJ Brower in Orlando.

Newbie me with AJ Brower in Orlando.

Despite all the prep, planning, and expense, I love conference. I learn new things about writing and the publishing industry, make new friends, and catch up with old friends. I come away energized (after about a week of recovery sleep), motivated, and inspired.

This will be my fourth year attending Nationals, and every one has been worth it. Each year has had different personal theme associated with it, and this time is no different. The 2010 conference in Orlando was the first year I’d attended a writing conference of any kind. I hardly knew anyone outside my local writing chapter in the beginning, but by the end I'd made several friends that I still keep up with.

Romantic Suspense Golden Heart® finalists in NYC

Romantic Suspense Golden Heart® finalists in NYC.

The second year in New York, I was a Golden Heart® finalist. The whole week was an absolute whirlwind, but a lot of fun. I  had made a  bunch of online friends in the intervening year, and it was neat to meet many of them in NYC.

My first year as a published author!

My first year as a published author!

Last year in Anaheim was a biggie. It was my first year attending as a published author (though not in romance), and the number of people I knew from previous meetings, my online classes, or online writing groups was staggering.

This year will be my first time presenting at the national conference. I’m giving a workshop on Saturday morning called “E-books Made Easy with Scrivener”. I expect I’ll see many familiar faces and learn lots of new ones. I’m excited!

If you’re going to Atlanta, I hope to see you there. 🙂