Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Continuing Education

One thing I always tell aspiring writers who seek my advice about getting published, is to learn as much as they can about the publishing business, which is pretty solid advice. But, what I should really be telling them is that no matter how much they learn about the publishing biz, there’s always more to learn along the way.

Here three things you usually don’t find out until after you’re published.

1. Not all authors are created equal.

There are three main levels of authors in the world of publishing, and for the record, I’m not referring to talent. I'm referring to sales. At the bottom of the heap you have debut authors who've yet to make a name for themselves, at the top of the heap you have what are referred to as top tier authors a.k.a the ones who's books sell like hotcakes and who get big royalty checks and attention, in the middle you have midlist authors, which accounts for 99.9% of all authors, myself included. Being a midlist author just means your books sell consistently but you’ve yet to reach top tier blockbuster sales status.

2. You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink.

Most authors have to do their own book promotion. Some are more successful at it than others. I once heard about an author who spent over $30,000 promoting a book without much luck. I’ve heard of publishers spending big bucks on promotion for a book they’ve deemed the next big thing only to have it flop. No one really knows what works when it come to book promotion. It’s usually not one thing but a combination of many things. Just do what you can comfortably afford to do because the rest is really up to chance.

3. Beware of the Green Eyed Monster.

One of the most self-defeating things authors can do is to compare themselves to other authors. Every author’s situation is different. For example, author A and author B both write in the same genre and have books that came out the same time. Author B is jealous of author A because A got a bigger advance, massive publisher support, and has sold 25,000 copies, while B got a much smaller advance, minimal publisher support, and has only sold 8,500 copies. But what B doesn’t know is that A’s print run( how many books printed upfront by the publisher) was 150,000 copies. B’s print run was only 10,000 copies. In the publishing world, selling 8,500 copies out of a 10,000 copy print run is considered a success, while selling only 25, 000 copies out of 150,000 copy print run is considered a big flop. Guess who’s career is in jeopardy? And it’s not author B. Don’t be so worried about how well you think another author is doing. You may not know the whole story and the time you waste worrying could be time spent writing.



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