If you’re a writer (seeking traditional or indie publishing), there’s something you need to understand about the publishing industry. Wait for it…
There are NO guarantees.
As a writer seeking traditional publishing:
-Just because you wrote a story doesn’t mean an agent or publisher will pick it up, even if all your friends love it. What to do? You could put that manuscript under your bed and move on to another or self-publish.
-Just because you queried a gazillion agents doesn’t mean you’ll hook even one. Quantity doesn’t equal a guarantee. But, not getting an agent doesn’t mean you or your writing suck. It might just be the wrong story for this market.
-Just because you have an agent doesn’t mean you’ll sell your book to a publisher. That doesn’t mean you, your story, or your agent suck. Again, it could be the market. Or it might be that you’re close to getting picked up but aren’t quite there yet. Don’t give up. Work on something new.
-Just because you have a publisher doesn’t mean your book will actually be published. Sad, right? A lot can happen between the time you sign a contract with a publisher and your publication date. The acquiring editor might leave and the new editor might not believe in your story. The publishing house might restructure and you could lose your slot in the shuffle. Or the publishing house can close its doors. There’s not a lot you can do when that happens. Talk through your options with your agent.
-Just because you have an agent doesn’t mean you’ll get a contract with a big publisher. You might sign with a smaller publisher, a digital-first publisher, or a digital-only publisher. Rely on your agent to help guide you when it comes time to make a choice (if you have one).
-Just because you have an agent doesn’t mean you’ll receive a big deal, an advance, or a multi-book contract. Agents have different relationships with different editors. And each agent has his or her own strengths and weaknesses. Some will be better with the editorial side, some will rock with marketing, and some will dominate negotiations. But, even the best negotiator might struggle getting much (if any) of an advance for a new author. Unfortunately, unless you have a crystal ball (that works), there’s no way to know how this will turn out until all is said and done.
As an indie writer who plans on self-publishing:
-Just because you’ve decided to self-publish doesn’t mean you’ll “show them.” You know, all the agents, editors, and other writers who didn’t believe in you or your story? You might feel confident with all the freedom to make choices and be in control of your book’s future, but that’s not a guarantee you’ll become a best-selling author.
-Just because you did everything right as an indie author doesn’t mean you’ll become a best-selling author. Maybe you hired an editor, a copy editor, a book cover artist, and a formatter, and you might have spent a lot of time and money on marketing, but that doesn’t mean the readers will come. They still might not find you.
-Just because your friends are doing well (or phenomenal) in the indie world doesn’t mean you will. Everyone’s journey is different. For that matter, some of your books will sell better than others.
-Just because you self-published and hit it big doesn’t mean publishers will be knocking at your door. That was the case for some authors, but more and more, publishers are finding they don’t make much off those books because they’ve already reached the majority of their readers. However, they might offer a contract on another book you haven’t published yet.
I could go on and on about all the things that aren’t guaranteed in the publishing industry. Just like in life, nothing is guaranteed. However, for some reasons, new writers don’t realize how close to the truth that can be. Walk into your writing career with knowledge. That’s your biggest strength and will give you power.
Because of Thanksgiving and some vacation time, I won’t be posting next week. See you in December!