Monday, December 29, 2014

Getting Published: Advice to a New Author

Happy Holidays, Richard!
I wrote two books because
the publisher found me.

As an author myself - magazine articles, mostly - I have no special advice for you about publishers.  I do know people (and know of many more) who published on their own via Amazon and Kindle.  I helped as best I could with reviews.  As enthusiastic as I was for my friends and comrades, apparently our preferences are not shared by millions of others.

Some years back, when we had an Internet, but no Worldwide Web, I attended a seminar on self-publishing.  The advice was to consider all of the work involved, and then decide which tasks you want, and which you will farm out.  

Most authors want the publisher to do everything. For that, they get a small advance, which the sales never cover, and that's the end of it.  For some very few, the deal works out, and they sell much - and write more: J. K. Rowling,  Dan Browne, …

Some few more people we never hear of actually make money by self-publishing.  They arrange for an editor, then for a designer, and for a printer (or Web host nowadays), a distributor (again the WWW), and advertising agency and publicist.  They go on talk radio, or they meet with local fan groups (science fiction, gardening, whatever), arranging their own fees and payments (when possible), and travel plans.
One Installment in a Seven-Year Run

The basic truth is that you get paid for work. The more work you do, the more you get paid for.  But division of labor means that some other people probably can do it cheaper, faster, or better. So, you buy what you prefer not to do for yourself.

They saw one I wrote for someone else
and wanted one of their own: easy sale.
Think of eBay.  You want to get rid of a bunch of junk?  Take it to the Goodwill. End of story.  You want to get paid?  You need a Paypal account, shipping bags and boxes, and labels and tape. And you need UPS or FedEx or the Post Office.  And you have to hassle with returns, complaints, and scammers.  Some people find all of that a lot of fun and very financially rewarding.  Most people just go to the Goodwill…  And there you find other people buying up stuff to sell on eBay.

If you believe in what you have created, then perseverance will be your only road to success.  If you want a publisher, you need an agent.  Finding an agent means sending out lots of chapters… 
Write about what you know about.

As a writer of magazine articles, my path has been similar to the ones I hacked through in door-to-door sales. I just contact one editor after another, and pitch a story until I make a sale.  

Sincerely Yours,
Mike M.


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