Lessons learned - musings of a first time published author
I'm departing from my usual routine of posting author interviews to share with you some of what I've learned so far about publishing. I've got one book published. A coming of age story titled Invisible. Invisible only took four months to write. I was very lucky. I wrote it while on a break from writing my paranormal thriller, Dark Angel, which I am still working on (big sigh).
After finishing Invisible, I tried for a time to find an agent and though I came close, was ultimately unsuccessful. Lesson number one, it is extremely hard to land an agent. My advice to new authors is to skip the agent. Go directly to an indie publisher.
Invisible was rejected by only one indie publisher before finding a home. Now here comes lesson number two - don't expect to make a lot of money. I can hear hearts breaking from here, but the sooner you realize this, the better. Having that first book published by an actual publisher (indie or not) will bring you credibility and that is something you cannot buy.
Lesson number three - writing a book and having it published costs money. Not for the actual publication of the book. Never pay a publisher to publish your book. Editing, cover art, etc. should all be free. But be prepared to dish out the dollars for promotion - mailing your book to reviewers, blog tours, and in some limited instances review companies.
After having a published novel under my belt, I will try for that elusive agent in the hopes of finding a large publisher for my next novel. The bigger houses will get your book into bookstores (more credibility). This is something an indie publisher cannot do. And the reason is because most indies are print on demand publishers (POD) which means that when a book is ordered, it is printed. Lower print runs mean higher prices for the book and lower profit margins for the stores. So, large chain stores will not stock your book. Also, PODs cannot be returned. This is another reason a bookstore will not stock your book.
Last lesson - once your novel is released, the real work begins. Be prepared to spend countless hours on promotion. There will be no time to write and you will miss that. You will be sick of talking about yourself and your novel - promotion and marketing sucks! But it is a necessary evil. Publishers won't do this for you. It is entirely up to you to sell your book. The lesson here - don't be shy. Do what you have to do to get your name out there and to build a platform. You're going to need it for the next book.
Well, that's it for now. I hope my words of wisdom have helped and not discouraged. I'd love to hear from other published authors. Please leave a comment and let me know if your experiences in publishing are similar to mine.