We live in the world of “instant” publishing. You already know that (or you wouldn’t be reading a blog about writing to begin with!).
An amazing world, actually, where all one need do is go to a host of production places and presto! Your book is out! A culture in which the technology has far exceeded the talent.
Did I just say that? Yep. Because while we may see 15 million e-books published this year, the vast majority of them are, well, truly terrible.
If you’re a writer who’s been in these trenches very long, you already know that though, don’t you. Here you are, toiling away, sweating blood over each blessed word, and your neighbor tosses together 50K words, throws together a book through one of those services, and calls himself a published author.
Doesn’t it make you a little nuts? Come on now, be honest. You see what’s out there and are somewhat horrified to be grouped-in with most of “those people.” Much less to call them authors. They’re writers. Authors have been published the traditional way.
Horrors! Did I just say that?
Yep. That’s how it’s been since time immemorial. Before the age of presto publishing, we had lots of vanity presses (and a paid press by any other name . . . .). They’ve existed all along. But back then, it’d cost you a pretty penny to publish with one—20K or so. You had to have a really big pocketbook and ego to go that route before.
Now you just need the ego.
Doesn’t this all sound harsh? Yep. But it’s what everybody within the industry says behind closed doors.
And for a writer’s purposes, why it’s so crucial with a first book not to self-publish, unless it’s the very last option available.
Because if you do, you’ve just dived straight into that vast sea of wanna-be authors, and to Traditional publishers, that’s what you’ll always be.
Unless (isn’t there always a caveat) you sell a bazillion books. Then all publishers stand up and take notice. And it’s this very thing—the successes of the Amanda Hockings, et al, who helped to fuel the presto-publishing revolution.
It does happen. And if you like those 1 in 15 million odds, then hey, go for it!
A second way this method works is for an agent or editor to “find” your book on Amazon, etc. This does happen as well. A good friend who’s a senior editor at a major NY house visited lately, and he told me about an author he “discovered” on Amazon. The book itself was terrible, but the editor loved the idea, and contacted the writer about other ideas.
So yep, this does happen. Just not very often.
Because 99.9 % of the time, that book doesn’t sell. You’re not “discovered.” And major publishers see the book as “published,” so your debut novel was a, well, disaster by publishing standards, and why would they want another when you didn’t sell the first?
These days, the debut novel is king in NY. That’s where the money is—the big-bucks’ advances. The mid-to-upper-six-figures kind.
And isn’t that, really, where you want to be?
Instead of scrambling post-publication fact, trying to get yourself seen by readers (who are having their own problems finding good things to read in that vast sea, and are resorting back to real publishers in droves), trying to market in any way possible as your book drifts imperceptibly to the bottom of that sea, well, why not shoot for the brass ring of real publishing to begin with?
What have you got to lose? Why not dig in, learn the craft, spend the years necessary to hone it, play by the well-established rules, and find a real home for the work you’ve toiled so diligently to produce?
The worst that could happen is that you don’t find that traditional home for your books. But look what you’ve learned in the process! You haven’t spent a gazillion dollars marketing a sinking ship, and, most importantly, you’ve honed your craft and don’t have to be horrified years down the road when you have learned to write well, and realize that at least some folks read the elementary works you originally released.
Then you can always go the self-pubbing route after that.
So take a deep breath. Sit back. Assess where you are, where your book is. Don’t jump in either way til you really know what you’re doing.
You’ll thank yourself for it later!