There are five points I want to add because I often come across new authors who don’t understand the business side of writing. And let’s be clear, the minute you publish your first book, whether traditionally or self-published, you are now in business. To give your business a chance at succeeding, you’ll need to market and promote the book with as much energy, integrity, and resourcefulness as you can muster. I appreciate that many of us are introverts and that forcing us to market our work may feel like entering a marriage you’re not quite sure about. But you’re in it now, and you either work at it or walk away.
As a self-published and traditionally published author, here are five things that this author has experienced:
- Some of your marketing efforts will take a mountain of effort for very little return. You have to decide if the exposure and simply networking to get your name out there is worth the effort. You may spend hours arranging book signings, commuting, and then sitting in the stores for two to four hours at a time. The return on investment (number of books you sell) may not cover the price of gas. You may well spend 20 hours or more preparing the best talk of your life but it won’t necessarily translate into sales either, which leads to my second point.
- Many authors sell only one or two books at events. It’s happened to me more than once, in good traffic areas and at well promoted events. The number of books sold at signings, conferences, and elsewhere is a crapshoot, unless you’re already famous or notorious or astonishingly attractive. Yes, we live in a shallow society.
- If traditionally published, you will likely be arranging 99% of your own promotion and if it involves travel, you will also likely be paying for that too.
- If you write a series and you’re not yet famous or garnering dozens of great reviews in well-known publications, your second, third, and forth books will probably not sell as well as your first. Mystery fans especially like to start at the beginning of a series. Even if they really liked the first book, as has been said to me, they won't necessarily spend money on subsequent books when there are so many authors to try.
- There will be setbacks, deep disappointment over meager royalties, and probable re-evaluation about your entire writing career. If you’re really lucky, growth and change will come from it. Embrace this. Writing is a journey, and as Rallison mentions in her tenth point, despite the downside, we love writing anyway.