Here's What I Learned About Publishing
It is not easy to become just a decently well-known author, even for those like Alice Hoffman or Gail Carson Levine. What I wished I had done before publishing two books was building a platform. No matter what route you take, whether it’s traditional, hybrid, or self-publishing, you need to establish a fan base before.
Even if you get accepted by a big publishing house (which is extremely difficult), they want to see how many people have heard of you and admire what you do. That excludes people you know personally. Think the publishing house will market your book for you? Think again. These days, regardless of what publishing route you select, you need to market your book on your own.
I self-published my novels without building a platform prior and knowing that children’s self-published books are among the hardest to sell. While I did a free promotion for five days, and got 1662 free downloads during that time, my sales were only around 25 a year, even after the free promotion ended.
I once worked on a non-fiction book and considered hybrid-publishing it. Hybrid publishing is a mix of traditional and self-publishing. They accept and reject books, but let you keep some control. They are not all alike though. Some lean toward the commercial method, where if they do accept your story, they have all the control for its production, cover design, title, and even content, and some lean toward self-publishing, where they let the author keep the control, but might not care much about the content, title, or design.
But having a platform (Facebook fans, Twitter followers, etc.) is absolutely important. I have done a ton of promotion and marketing techniques for my novels. I could go on and on with a list, but everything I have done has gotten me little to nowhere. People don’t usually like to buy books from unknown authors, because they worry about wasting their money. That is why every aspiring writer or any kind of creator needs a platform.
I do have an email list, updated editions of my first 2 novels, and even the third installment in my book series. While the reviews and sales are a lot better than before, they could improve more.
But I will keep trying.