Thursdays with Amanda: How the Movie “UNDERWORLD” Perfectly Portrays Today’s Publishing World
Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Have you seen Underworld?
In this rather awesome and yet equally terrible movie, the vampires and the lycans are at odds (duh). The vampires are snooty and privileged and literally SLEEPING UNDERGROUND while the world passes them by. The lycans, on the other hand, are rule-breakers and thugs. They do what they want and for obvious reasons don’t get along with the vamps.
There is a particularly attractive lycan-hunting vampire girl who is tracking a lowly human that most women my age would know as Ben from Felicity. Ben from Felicity is being followed by lycans, and the hot vamp chick wants to know why. The truth is soon revealed when the lycans bite Ben from Felicity and turn him. By now the hot vampire lady is torn! She has grown to care for Ben from Felicity, and how can she love her enemy?! She eventually decides to get over herself and love him anyway, but then he is once again injured and near death (wimp). She does what she has been warned not to do and bites him, thus making him both vampire and lycan–a creation that is rumored to be stronger than either species. They call him a hybrid. Eventually, he is able to bring about peace between the clans.
So why do I bring this up? Why walk you through the ENTIRE movie premise?
Because it adequately portrays what’s happening in publishing, and every time I hear the term “hybrid author,” I immediately think of Ben from Felicity (and I wanted you to do so as well).
You see, traditional and digital/self-pubbing are at odds. Traditional publishing for the longest time was comprised of two camps. There were the industry people who saw what was happening and wanted to figure out a solution, and then there were the stuffy, somewhat elitist industry people who were looking the other way (i.e. vampire sleeping) while digital/self-publishing took off. Also true to the movie, the self-publishing side is more of a wild west in which the rules are meant to be broken and anything goes so long as no one ends up getting sued.
And authors in the midst of their careers are caught in the shuffle. They’re torn, much like the hot vampire chick was torn when Ben from Felicity was bitten! Do they stay true to their publisher? Or do they venture out on their own? Conversely, self-pub authors, when given the opportunity to go traditional, have an equally tough decision to make. Are they signing their careers away by getting with the big houses?
One by one we see traditionally published authors dabble in self-pubbing. And we also see self-pubbing success stories trying their hand at traditional options.
The result? The industry is filling with hybrid authors who are more powerful, more connected, more happy, and typically more profitable than those who stay one one side or the other.
The hybrid authors get the best of both worlds, as they get marketing and brand support (not to mention in-store distribution) from traditional houses, while they maintain creative control and better royalty breaks from their self-publishing ventures.
How are publishers responding?
For awhile, publishers tried to fight it. We heard stories of publishers dropping authors who had ventured out on their own, and for the longest time it was very difficult to get an indie book entered into any kind of contest. Publishers also held tightly to non-compete clauses, and would say things like “why didn’t you show this project to me?” when an author would take something and either do it on their own or place it with a micro-publisher.
But things are changing. Industry pros are finding that authors are happier when they’re making money (big surprise there), and the beauty of self-publishing is that it brings it more cash. It makes becoming a full time author a bit more feasible. And it also helps the author provide content to readers more regularly, thus developing a stronger brand and a more dedicated following, which traditional houses can appreciate.
How Do You Become a Hybrid Author?
For unpublished authors, it’s a matter of producing quality work…quickly. It’s about growing your sales numbers and catching the eye of an agent or publisher. From there, things tend to work pretty smoothly. You can negotiate a deal that preserves your right to self-publish here and there (you may need to slow the frequency with which you publish down a bit), and doing so won’t surprise a publisher.
For published authors, it’s a trickier dance…and having an agent would come in handy. You need to begin negotiating those clauses that would potentially hinder your self-pubbing career. You also need to develop a strategy for publication that would prevent the two from conflicting (timing, genre, marketing…all of these have the potential of creating major rifts in your publishing relationships).
There’s a lot more to it than this, but the idea here is that hybrid publishing can boost any career…it’s a marketing tool as much as it’s a career move. And I’m excited to dive into the topic with you.
Have questions or thoughts about the hybrid thing? Sound off below!
Hi Amanda, I just dropped by to see what Chip’s been thinking lately but must say what a hilarious way to make a good point. Nice Job. Joe
Amanda, Thank you for validating the indie writer. I have written several memoirs for others that serve their purposes well being self-published. Yet, I want most of my books to be published by traditional publishers so they can be distributed nationally. I (right or wrong) believe I have more respect from the literary world for the books I have had published by traditional publishers.
I love your analogy, and now I want to see the movie–publishing giants depicted as supernatural creatures–who could resist that?
Amanda – I could just hug you around the neck! I self published only to establish a platform, build numbers, and hopefully catch the eye of an agent or traditional publisher. Then, I heard all the negativity . . . had I made a mistake? Would this brand me as an Indie writer (which isn’t what I had ever intended)? Should I have been more patient as I waited for replies from all the agents I had solicited? As I am on the verge of a second release, and slightly hesitant only because of such opinions of “nay” sayers in the industry, you have encouraged me to keep going as the wolf waiting for the bite from a vampire. The analogy sounded much better coming from you – when I say it, it sounds cheesy. I wouldn’t mind being a hybrid. I think it suits me! Thanks for being my dose of encouragement today! Now I have to go and re-watch Underworld – I kept confusing it with Van Helsing!
Blessings – Lauren