Gather ’round, prose afficianados. It’s time for a discussion of the kind of fiction that used to find its audience in print. Presented by respected publishing houses that kept most of the $$$ those print books earned. But even though we no longer need publishers dipping into the trough, does that mean at last we’re in the clear?
by Laurence O’Bryan
Self publishing is a golden opportunity. For the first time in history authors can reach readers without going through the traditional publishing system.
But many self published authors are making horrible, beginner-type-mistakes, which will cripple their book sales. Here’s my take on these mistakes:
1. Not getting outside help. Writers can’t generally be editors, cover designers and marketing experts, as well as being writers. Not if they want to do these jobs well. And asking a relative or close friend to do these jobs for you is probably worse than doing it yourself. Your judgement typically goes out the window when someone close to you does something for you. If you won’t spend money on getting experts your sales will be poor. I know there are occasional exceptions to this, but they only prove the rule.
2. Having unrealistic expectations. Most books, up to ten years ago, sold hundreds of copies. Only 1 in 300 traditionally published books, which got good editing, covers and marketing support, became bestsellers in the past. Publishing became a giant game of throw-it-up and see-what-sticks. With printed books it became ever growing and almost criminally wasteful, when you consider the dirty secret that most of the books you see in book stores are destined to be pulped. Now that game is in decline. If you do get editing, covers and marketing right, you might expect reasonable sales, but publishing is always a gamble, so never risk more than you can afford to lose. Great books don’t always sell well. And Print on Demand is way better than ordering books to store in a front room and then a back room – forever.