Life as a Hybrid Author

We are thrilled to have Jolene Perry as our newest contributor, with the next installment in our “Life of a Writer” series!

First, let me say what “hybrid” means since the first picture I get in my head is of a Liger (I’m totally kidding) (mostly). Any-way…

A hybrid author is someone who publishes both with traditional publishers and self-publishes.


When I first set out to be published (2010), self-publishing wasn’t even a thing. I mean, you could hire a vanity press to publish your books, and spend a small fortune doing it, but that was not at all what I wanted.

I got my first contract with CFI and my first agent within a few months of each other. My agent very quickly sold two of my YA novels to an ebook only publisher, and then over the next year, two more to traditional publishers (Entangled/Macmillan and AW Teen, who I love and am still with). But we were not a good fit for a ton of reasons, which could be a blog post all by itself.

So. I’d written a book called My Heart for Yours with my friend, Steph Campbell. She’d had a lot of success with her self-published novels, and since I was between agents, we published that book together. After the pressure and stress of cover arguments, and edits I was disappointed with and/or didn’t agree on, it was a welcome relief to control all of those things myself. Consequently, that book got me my current agent WHOM I LOVE.

My Heart for Yours did so well that when CFI offered on the next two books in The Next Door Boys series, I turned them down in favor of self-publishing.

For a while, self-publishing was very good to me. I had the benefit of professional edits, and friends who were cover designers to keep me on track.

And then everyone started self-publishing. I started to feel like I was getting lost in the shuffle, and I just wasn’t willing to play all the games to keep my books ahead.

I re-focused on traditional publishing, which has its own set of problems.

And then I realized something very important. Something that took me an embarrassingly long time to understand, when it should have been obvious from the beginning: Not all projects are meant for traditional publishing and not all projects are meant for self-publishing. (at least for me)

So, now I decide at some point in the writing process if I’m going to self pub, or trad pub. I’m very fortunate to have an agent who has no problems with me doing both. I just have to watch the language in my contracts with traditional publishers to make sure I’m not in breach or stepping on toes.

I’ve done this by keeping my full length YA in traditional houses, and self-publishing my adult romances under pen names.

This is what works for me. For sure it wouldn’t work for everyone.


Well, aside from what I just mentioned, I sometimes feel like I don’t fit in anywhere. I know that hybrids are more and more common, but very often I feel like I’m standing on this bright line between two publishing avenues. The self-pubbers don’t take much notice because my numbers aren’t high enough for them to bother hanging with me. The traditional only pubbers don’t take much notice because I’m one of those “self pubbers.”

I know that the bias is changing and shifting, and I’m grateful for it, but it doesn’t change the fact that I sometimes feel like the last kid picked for the dodgeball team. (And I really love dodgeball)


For the first time in a long time, authors have a lot of avenues for their work. If a book doesn’t sell, or if a contract isn’t what an author wants, they still have a way to get that work into the world.

I love self-publishing for the freedom, and I love traditional publishing for the audience. And because, as petty and vain as it is, I love to see my books on bookshelves 😉

In the end, the best we can do is learn what we can, make decisions and plans, and then have a back-up for when nothing turns out the way we expect. And this goes for a lot more than publishing books.



Jolene Perry wears worn out Chucks, juvenile t-shirts, and eats too much chocolate. She loves to go fast, love french fries dipped in Frosties, and stories that keep her guessing. She writes for Entangled, Albert Whitman Teen, and Simon Pulse. Author of lots of books.

She is represented by Jane Dystel of Dystel and Goderich Literary Management and Rachel Stout, also of Dystel and Goderich Literary Management.

She write speculative fiction under the name AJ Brooks and new adult fiction under the name Mia Josephs

2 thoughts on “Life as a Hybrid Author

  1. Oh my gosh I love you and love this post. My traditionally published books haven't been with publishers as big as yours, but I still don't feel like I fit in anywhere because I have a ton of self-published and some traditionally published but through small houses. I'm glad I'm not the only one who doesn't have a clear place in the writing world 🙂 We can be on each other's dodgeball teams!


  2. Woah, this was great! I'm a hybrid author, too, but I've actually never heard (or at least that I can recall) the term until now. Thank you for explaining all that! 🙂


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