Sunday, August 03, 2014

Why I am Not a Hybrid Author

I am an author who is published by medium and small presses, and under my legal name by a large press for scientific nonfiction. I have released books in hardback, paperback, and various digital formats. I have published textbooks, poetry, novels, short stories and blogs. I am an author who has self-published novels and a short story collection.

I am, ultimately, an author who tries to publish any given work in the manner most likely to reach my target audience,and generally with a goal of optimizing my own income.But I am not a "hybrid" author.

A hybrid is a cross between two species which, the normal course of events, who never breed.  A hybrid is a sterile novelty. To identify as a hybrid is to say that authors normatively come from two completely different species where only one approach (trade versus indie) is pursued, but there is the occasional individual who might be cute and plucky but is ultimately a freak.

Hybrid is synonym to mongrel and bastard. It resonates with the philosophy of miscegenation, which asserts that pedigree types are superior and pure and should remain that way. It carries an overtone of illegitimate. I think this not only treats publishing under both models an aberration, but makes using only one model spuriously honorific when it should be merely unremarkable (in and of itself).

I am doing what any author should: that is to make a conscious decision as to how to deliver my books to their readership, and who to do that with. And like many authors I think that words matter.  That is why I  am happy to call third party publishing "trade", as that is what most people who favor this approach seem to want, and self-publishing "indie", as that is what most people who favor that approach seem to want.

kevin dooley / photo on flickr
And the debates over those terms and every other thing suggest that we already have an entrenched "us" versus "them" approach to these publishing choices--one that makes no more sense to me that insisting a person can only like one flavor of ice cream, or wear one kind of garment no matter what the weather is like outside.

I shall be very interested to see what authors who color inside and outside and across those lines ultimately decide we should be referred to as. Those, I suppose, electric cars might have transitioned to seeing the word in a different and more aspirational way. But for my part, "hybrid" is not a term I will easily embrace.

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