All of us were new at one time and had to learn the hard way what was actually the truth of things in the publishing industry. Lately I’ve heard each of these 5 Myths about the Publishing Industry and hope that this blog will save at least one new or aspiring author the pain and suffering that a lot of us went through before we learned this stuff.
Myth 1: Authors Don’t need to do promotions, their publishing company will do it all for them.
Reality: Usually that’s a big fat NO! In fact, until my current publisher – Random House – this has hardly ever been true for me. To be fair, my first series published with a new York Publisher (Kensington), they did pay to have my books faced out for the first month after release. I think that’s part of why my Seduction Series did so well and why Ceremony of Seduction went into a second printing – my only book so far to do that. Granted, I did a TON of promotions for it, but I have for every book I’ve released, even when I was still with a small press publisher. With a lot of the larger publishers, they simply have too many authors to outlay major money on promotions for each one. It’s usually not cost effective. You sink or swim on the strength of your own promotions and the strength of your author brand you’ve built even before you sold it to them.
But the bottom line is – you can’t count on a publisher to do all your promotions. Even with Random House spoiling me rotten – I’m still out actively promoting!
Myth 2: Every book published goes immediately to print and will appear in every bookstore.
Reality: Many books are either released in ebook only or need to meet a threshold of sales before they go to print. Ebooks have become very popular, so neither of things are really a BAD thing. Yes, several books do go immediately to print, but not all of them. It’s very important to check your contract before signing so you know what to expect. Also, a print run (how many books are printed) is set for every book based on a combination of factors – usually the strength of your author brand and how many the sales people for each of the outlets are willing to buy into their store. Smaller booksellers can request your title from Ingrams, but many don’t want to have take the risk on an untried author unless there is some major draw behind either the book or the author. Bookshelf space equates to money and if they aren’t sure they can sell your books and make money, they will pass and save that space on books they KNOW they can sell.
Myth 3: After I write my book I can just hire a professional editor and that will make it easy to sell it to a publisher.
Reality: Even a professional editor (and not all those who call themselves professional editors truly are) who uses the Chicago Manual of Style etc can guarantee that the line editing they suggest will be what a particular editor or agent will want. So you could end up shelling out a LOT of money for editing and either still not be able to sell it, or have to do edits all over again to meet the needs/preferences of that agency or house.
Best advice on this one. Get some beta readers to work out the pacing and the kinks in your story and find a friend, or beta reader who is good at spelling and grammar. Get the book to its best possible state under those conditions and submit, submit, submit. Once an agent or editor acquires the book, they will give you their own edits and then copyedits.
Myth 4: When I sell my book I’ll get to choose my cover, my title and have full say over all content in the book.
Reality: Maybe, but not necessarily. The marketing department of the publisher will weigh in on the title of the book, your cover, and possibly even your pen name. If you are lucky, they will ask you what you would like to see on your cover, what your characters look like – and you might even get characters on the cover that actually match the ones you’ve written. Titles are changeable and in fact I think I’ve only gotten to keep my originally suggested title on 3 out of my 16 published books. Luckily, Kensington liked my suggested Cassie Ryan pen name so I was able to keep that one after all my research to choose it. I suppose they do it that way so they don’t get something that sounds like your pole dancing name – which makes sense, but it surprised me when I found that out. I’ve been very lucky to have been given an opportunity for input on nearly every book cover, blurb, plot flow, title etc, but my ideas didn’t always end up as the one hitting the bookstore shelves.
Myth 5: Once I sell my first book I’ll be able to easily sell everything else I write
Reality: Maybe. I’ve published 16 books to date between my 2 pen names. But even after all of that – Book number 14 I couldn’t sell. My agent said Sleeping With Shadows was the best book I’ve written to that point and she tried her best to sell it. But there were several things against it. First, that was a book I was selling as Tina Gerow. It wasn’t as hot and kinky of all of my other Cassie books but was a little hotter than my other Tina books. So the decision was made to publish it as Tina Gerow. Well, even though Tina has published several books, they were with small presses, so Tina had no New York numbers. But wait, Cassie Ryan has several sets of New York sales numbers, you say. Well, in New York, even though Tina & Cassie are the same physical person, apparently the bean counters look at the sales numbers and Tina doesn’t exist there so is a bigger risk to publish. Also, paranormal was on its way out, as were hotter books. So I self published Sleeping With Shadows – my only self pubbed book, but definitely the book of my heart. A smoking hot reincarnation with a twist story! But nope – couldn’t sell it, even with 13 published books under my belt – several with major New York publishers.
There are many more myths out there, but those are for another day. If you have any big ones, feel free to post them in the comments.