I was labeled the moment I started this writing journey. In the beginning, I was simply a writer: someone who wrote down stories, as often as time allowed, and not necessarily with a specific goal in mind. (Thinking, “I want to be a writer,” at this point it is still labeled dreaming.)
The moment I clicked that button to upload my first story into cyberspace, making it available to the masses, I became an author. I was self-published.
When absolutely nothing happened, I reverted back to being a writer. I wrote and wrote and wrote. Then, slowly but surely, I began to divide my time between writing and learning. I joined RWA. I began to read everything they put out about the publishing industry. I took a few classes. Entered a couple of contests. Started working on figuring out the scary world of social media. Self-published a few more books.
When I realized I was spending equal parts of my time writing and marketing myself, I acknowledged I had once again become an author. When I decided this is what I want to do with my life, I became a determined author. (That one’s not really a label — or maybe it is? Maybe we’re back to dreamer?)
Eventually, I placed in a couple of contests. The Resort took third, Into the Light took first. Cursed and Chosen, which is coming out this spring, was a finalist in another. I finally began embracing social media, and as a result, discovered the concept of pitch wars. Pitch wars led to interest in a couple of manuscripts, and finally, last year, I released a few (4) books through publishers.
I now have an official new label: hybrid author.
What does that mean? On the surface, in its simplest terms, it means I am both traditionally and self-published. I am straddling the fence separating two worlds.
But what does it really mean? It means I understand what self-published authors go through. I understand the angst of clicking that button and then sitting back and waiting while nothing at all happens. I understand the satisfaction of maintaining complete control, and the frustration of realizing the mistakes that occurred because I did retain that control.
It means I understand how published authors feel when they get a glimpse of that cover for the first time, along with the email that states very succinctly, “We hope you like it, but even if you don’t, you can’t change it.” (For the record, I have, thus far, loved all of my covers.)
It means I understand when a published (or almost published) author gets that first round of revisions and feels that overwhelming urge to crawl under the kitchen table and nurse a bottle of vodka for the next few hours. That uncomfortable sensation, once you’ve sobered up and tackled those edits, that this book is no longer yours. (It is. It really still is. Those are your words, your ideas; you’ve simply had a little help refining them, that’s all.)
It means I know how to look up my sales figures every minute of every day. (Don’t, for the sake of your sanity. Try to keep it to every few weeks at most, at least in the beginning, because it will make you mad when those numbers don’t move every three minutes.) It also means I have learned to not stress every day about those figures, since, now that my publisher owns that information, I can’t see it everyday anyway.
It means new avenues have opened to me, and old ones have improved. It means now, when I finish editing that next manuscript, I can sit back, look at all my options and think, What’s best for me… And my baby-slash-book?
And whichever option I choose, I now know what to expect, and can plan accordingly. And no matter what, I’ll still be labeled a hybrid author. Which is okay.
The label’s kind of growing on me.