Friday, July 22, 2011

Best-Selling Author Sidesteps Traditional Publishing

by Melinda Palacio

Best-selling author, Catherine Ryan Hyde has come a long way since she wrote her first novel on her IBM Selectric typewriter. Today, she composes directly onto her computer, builds her own website, and is sidestepping traditional publishing by incorporating Indie presses along with traditional publishing models. This month marks the e-release of Second Hand Heart and soon to follow is the print on demand (POD) paperback. Second Hand Heart is the story of 19-year-old Vida who accepts a donor heart in the nick of time and the strong emotions presented by the transplant. It’s no wonder this book is already climbing the e-sales at Amazon. The price of $2.99 with free delivery and the e-format, where the author maintains control and publishing rights means a win-win for the reader and author.

Catherin Ryan Hyde, through the Andrea Brown Literacy Agency, is publishing books in e-format that weren’t picked up through traditional presses. If the traditional route of signing with a publisher and making the best possible deal doesn’t work for CRH, she has the opportunity to produce the book independently, something which more and more authors are starting to do. CRH has the advantage of being a well-known author whose books have been made into film, Pay It Forward, for example. CRH also has a large following in the UK, thanks to the Richard and Judy television program, a cultural phenomenon similar to Oprah. The Richard and Judy program chose Love in the Present Tense for its Book Club and TransWorld UK, a Random House company, followed through with the promotion to build a UK readership. Random House owns the UK rights to Second Hand Heart, but CRH owns the US rights. With the Kindle publication of Second Hand Heart, the book will now be available for both US and UK downloads.

Given that she is a name brand author, CRH discusses with her agent the complicated questions of publishing her books independently. With promotion falling on the shoulders of the author and e-format technology, the idea of bypassing the publisher sounds appealing for an established author.

“Authors with a big body of work and a readership can be more cavalier about the decision to cut publishers out of the equation. I think it’s still much harder for the author who needs to make a name for himself or herself.

It’s still a complex set of questions with no one-size-fits-all answers. But the changes in the industry present more options to all authors, and I think that will be a net gain in the medium-to-long run.”

CRH has always found it important to focus on the business aspect of writing, in addition to her creative work. With 16 books published and her first independent e-release for Second Hand Heart, it’s amazing she has time for anything besides writing, (she has several books ready in queue for publication). She’s a big outdoor enthusiast and enjoys hiking, kayaking, and traveling in her motor home. Photos on her website showcase some of the scenic places she’s been to and there’s photos and videos of her dog, Ella, a cross between a Scotty and a Chinese Crested Hairless. Fans can also pay tribute to their own pets in the more kitty/more puppy feature on CRH’s blog. CRH will debut her third reader slideshow soon; she’s currently accepting fan photos for her 3rd My Fabulous Readers slideshow.

Social Media sites that allow CRH to share photos of her latest travel ventures and books also have allowed the California resident to stay in touch with friends and fans around the world:

“I am closer to my readers than I ever was before. Every day, through my website, my blog, Twitter and Facebook, I keep up with them and they with me. They not only know when I have a new book out, they know when I have a big hike planned, and what I’m grateful for on any given day. I not only know which of my books they’re reading and what they think of it so far, but I know when they’re sick, or get a new job, or lose a beloved pet. I have a relationship with readers that I simply could not have if we needed to be in the same place in real time.”

CRH tells us what’s next on her busy publishing agenda:

“Another US Indie book, When I Found You. This, like Second Hand Heart, is the US edition of a book that was already published in the UK and did well there. Another book from Transworld UK in the fall, Don’t Let Me Go. Then we will either sell it to a US publisher or bring it out Indie as well. Two more books next year from Transworld UK, When You Were Older in the spring and the one I’m working on now, Walk Me Home, in the fall. Followed in time by their US editions. Then there’s the book of essays and a book for writers that’s a collaboration with blogger Anne R. Allen. If they get picked up by publishers, so be it. If not, I’ll get them out to my readers all the same.”

1 comment:

Anne R. Allen said...

It's so exciting that US readers will finally be able to read CRH's UK books. They're fantastic.

And I think we'll see more and more authors going this hybrid route--corporate publishing for some titles, small presses for others and self-pubbing for the most creative books. (More on that from three-path-publishing writer Kim Wright on my blog this week.)

Finally, writers can have some control!