Have you ever dreamed about what life’ll be like once your novel is published?
I know—stupid question, right? Because all folks wanting to write fiction, actually writing a book, having finished the first draft or even the 15th revision, dream of seeing it in print.
Publication is that shining beacon on the hill, guiding us through the darkness of being bogged down in a draft, spurring us on through the best and worst writing times.
Most writers intending to self-publish realize that they’ll be responsible for everything from getting it edited to uploading the manuscript to cover art to promotion. Comes with the territory.
But would you be shocked to know that even if you reach the pinnacle—publication by one of the 5 remaining major houses—most of the promotion will still be left up to you?
Of course, with those major houses does come the backing of the marketing department. Whew! You’re off the hook, right?
Funny enough, literary agents and acquisitions editors want to know what you, the author, can do to promote your book.
And stating that “I’ll be glad to go on a nationwide book tour” is not the answer they’re looking for. That part’s a given. They want to know what promotional venues you can facilitate.
Literary agents look closely at your social-media profile, followers, and interaction. Gone are the days of just having a large following being enough. Now they want not only the north side of 50-100K followers, but evidence of regular interaction as well.
So no matter how you publish, most of the promotion is up to you.
The industry secret is, those who have published a novel—again, no matter whether self-pubbed, with a small Indy press, or through one of the big houses—know that as with any business, the buck ultimately stops with them.
In essence, as a novelist, you are an entrepreneur.
Yes, the tasks at hand do lessen for the author, as you go up the food chain.
If you’re traditionally published:
֎ Sometimes in-depth editing is still done by the acquisition’s editor, although this is changing before our eyes. Many houses now sub-out the developmental edit to freelance editors.
But these days, a manuscript needs to be pretty much camera-ready in the first place.
֎ Most of the time the final copy edit is done in-house.
֎ The production of the manuscript is done in-house.
֎ The cover art is acquired by the house (and the author has little if any say in it).
֎ The back-cover copy is done by the acquisition’s editor.
֎ The acquisition’s editor also takes care of positioning the book on the publisher’s upcoming Spring or Fall list.
֎ The publisher takes care of distribution.
֎ The marketing department markets the book through its established channels.
If you go with an Indy house, production, cover art, and distribution are usually done by them. The rest, including most of the editing, is left up to you.
If you self-pub, all tasks are of course left to you. Including gaining the copyright as well.
Simply gone are the days when an author wrote in her clean well-lighted room, sent the manuscript to the agent and publishing-house editor, and cheerfully (or not so cheerfully, depending upon said author) showed up to sign books, drink martinis, and be interviewed.
Those days waned through the last century, and pretty much died with the advent of easy-to-publish technology in this one.
With millions of titles published through all venues every year, even best-selling authors these days maintain a huge Goodreads, et al, presence in order to promote their books.
And funny thing too, all the promotional aspects have to be set in place 12-18 months before publication—exactly how the major publishers do it. That’s why even if you’re self-pubbing, using the traditional model as your guide works!
So, like everybody first diving into this venture, you probably thought all you had to do was write the book. But if you know all of this going in, it’s not such a shock to you once your book is published.
And your book is your business, no? Who better to tend it than you?