As a published author, I get lots of questions about this elusive business. I say elusive because it's damned difficult to get your foot in the door. I like to think of myself as being knowledgeable about much of it, but find that there are still many things I don't quite understand.
Like, why don't authors get more of the money the publishers make off of them. It's silly, really. We make 12-15% royalty on what we've toiled over for usually a minimum of a year; many more, in most cases. That's literally $1.00 to $3.00 for every sale we make.
The average book sells between 300-600 books for it's average shelf life of six months. As you can see, I won't be retiring anytime soon! We can't all be best selling authors like James Paterson, Stephen King, or Nora Roberts, where they sell in the millions.
I always laugh when people assume I'm now a wealthy woman solely due to being an author. The layman hasn't a clue.
I am a researcher, so if I want to do something I've never done before, I research out the facts on how to get it done, where to apply it, what it will entail, and in the end, why the hell I would want to put myself through all of that!
But, lately, I've had several emails from new authors about these struggles. I'm always willing to help, if I can. We have to stick together in this, after all. Anyway, I think many new writers assume many things about their publisher. Like, they'll send you on a national tour; they'll schedule all your signings for you; they'll help you write (allowing you to overlook spelling and grammatical errors); and they'll get your book into every bookstore on the planet.
Tcha, right! In my experience—and this includes the big publishers of new authors—once the book has been released, you're on your own. Granted, the big publishers will get your book into more of the big chains, but those stores still have the right to pass over your work if they deem it not interesting or salable enough. Herein lies the largest struggle of them all.
As a POD author, there is even less of a chance of getting my work to a distributor. They don't want to take the chance that they'll be peddling a writer no one's ever heard of with no following.
Hard to blame them, if you think about it, so I've spent a lot of time nurturing a following. Oh, I know it's not all that big, but by god, my readers are loyal! I have a good many great promoters of my Eyes of Garnet trilogy who tout me to all their friends as someone they have to read.
Will I become a best selling author simply through word of mouth? Not terribly likely with only three books under my belt. But as long as I don't stop writing, keep improving my craft, and keep adding to my following of merry readers, perhaps someday.
And when those snooty customers come up to me at signings and ask if I've made the bestseller's list (because those are the only authors they'll read!), I'll just say, "Not yet, but if you buy this book and tell all your friends to buy it, I will!" You certainly can't be shy in this business.
Hang in there, newbies. Unless, of course, you don't deem the struggle worth your while.
Apparently, I've decided writing is worth my while, and find the struggle—and yes, it is a struggle—something I'm willing to put up with. Remember, I'm a Taurus born in the sign of the dog. Can you say ox stubborn and pit bull tenacious?