Ask any traditionally published author what frustrates him most about the industry, and the list of complaints might be rather varied. A survey of 9,000 authors conducted by Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest cited lack of creative control, royalties, and editorial decision making on the list, but one other factor that still plagues authors is the seemingly random and lengthy delays in the publishing industry. This factor has actually played a role in furthering hybrid publishing, as some authors have publicly stated they didn’t have the time to wait on a project that the traditional industry seems to require.
Now, a new trend is emerging in traditional publishing, thanks to both the lower initial investment in digital-first and the example for readers set by successful self-published authors. More and more publishers are stripping away the artificially long wait periods for publication, allowing titles–especially sequels in a series–to reach the consumers at an unprecedented rate.
Some of the speeding up of the process can be attributed to successful hybrid authors like Hugh Howey and CJ Lyons. Lyons, who spoke at an Amazon roundtable event at last year’s BookExpo in New York brought up the comparison between well-known authors like Dan Brown, who often have as much as a two-year gap between the release of titles.
“My fans would throw a brick through my window if they had to wait two years to find out what happens,” Lyons stated to the group.
At Digitial Book World only a few months before, Howey was interviewed about the newly coined term “hybrid author,” and made the important announcement that fans want instant access to new content from their favorite authors. He pointed out that readers would email him only a matter of hours after downloading the first installment in his Silo Saga, demanding to know when the next portion would be available. For his part, Howey has long been quoted with his mantra, “The best promotion you can do for book one is to write book two,” allowing fans to invest themselves in a series while knowing they won’t have to wait an interminable amount of time to read the next installment.
Following the successes of self-turned-traditional series like the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy and the Bella Andre multi-title Sullivans series, fans have come to expect the option to read a follow up title without delay, a time period that in the traditional industry can be well over a year. Now, publishers are taking note and working to ensure that the time to market will not include artificial calendar obstacles.
One of the first series to pick up the pace that Good e-Reader highlighted was a Wattpad-originated series by Brittany Geragotelis, picked up for publication by Simon&Schuster. Beginning with the first book in the series, Life’s A Witch, published last July, the two remaining titles in the series were both available by late last month.
As publishers begin to adopt more of the mindsets that have made self-publishing so enticing–the better royalties, the greater creative control, and now the faster time to market–a resurgence in the popularity of this type of working relationship may begin. For now, more authors than ever are turning their backs on the industry before ever publishing their work, and it will be interesting to see how far publishers are willing to go to lure back their authors.