How hard is it to publish a book and be successful?
After you publish the book, do you have to do a lot of promotion to advertise it? How much energy and time does a successful writer invest in his book?
the answer to this today is different than it was even 10 years ago.
Unless you are a proven published author you will be doing most of the promotion yourself. You will have to have your own blog, build and audience, engage that audience, book your readings, do much of the media outreach, and perhaps even do direct correspondence with bookstores to get your book stocked.
The reason so many people are self-publishing now (for example, though Amazon.com's CreateSpace) is because if you self publish you have to do all of that stuff yourself too, but you keep all the profit.
Really easy, if you have a formula that works.
R1 wrapped it up neatly, OP. Promotion is just as if not more important than writing the book. And unless you're proven to be a commercial success based on prior books written and sold, fewer and fewer publishers and agents today are acquiring manuscripts from unknowns. Moreover, unless you are one of the authors noted above, you CANNOT earn a decent living by relying ONLY on advances and royalties. If the book earns out the advance you got for writing it (for non-bestsellers/non big names/ non hot-topical material, that would likely be from $2k up to $10k or so) then you start to see royalties.
retired book publicist
I've just self published a book through Kindle Direct (brief pause for self promotion--a Hollywood novel called The Spotlight Seekers). Promotion is not my forte. I'm doing some but relying on word of mouth for sales. Also, I'm writing and publishing not to become rich and successful, but because I enjoy writing and want to put my work out there. If I make a few dollars, great. But I write for myself and hopefully a few people will enjoy my story. There's an incredible feeling of accomplishment to write and publish the work. And it takes a certain tenacity and belief in one self. But I'm not quitting my day job.
Enormously difficult. But it's like every other field in the US: it's oversaturated. Still, new people will get discovered and make it big. The odds are just incredibly against you ever making a living, even a meager living from writing alone.
Hey, r4, I just bought your book.
Can I ask a couple of questions? How much is your cut per e-book sold? And, how much research did you do for the book? As in, the 1930s gay Hollywood orgies, what sort of info do we have on them?
Here's a link to the book by R4:
[quote] they came to Hollywood...to QUENCH their talents
R6, thank you for purchasing The Spotlight Seekers. I hope you enjoy it.
Authors who self publish via Kindle Direct can choose one of two royalty payments--35% of each sale or 70%. Each have their own set of conditions as well as pros and cons. And an author can also choose to change royalty plans at a later date. And for some territories where the book will be made available, such as India and Brazil, the author can only receive the 35% rate.
I'm pretty much life long film history/old Hollywood buff so I read extensively on the topic. As for Gay Hollywood, certainly William Mann's book "Behind the Screen" and his bio on William Haines were consulted as I wrote the book. However the only full out gay orgy scene in The Spotlight Seekers occurs well outside of Hollywood.
Yes, the promotional blurb I wrote for the Amazon site is very purplish in its prose. My book is highly influenced by the novels of Harold Robbins, Jacqueline Susann and early Jackie Collins. I've always enjoyed trashy roman a clefs packed with melodrama and sex and The Spotlight Seekers is my attempt to write in this vein. My next novel will be somewhat in a similar vein, but will also be inspired by the noirish works of writers like James M. Cain and Horace McCoy.
Thanks for the info, r8. I really love old Hollywood, golden age, and all that.
I love the reference to "early Jackie Collins" like she has a nuanced oeuvre or something. But your book sounds like fun!
Plaguarize someone else's characters and post your story on the Internet! I did it and now I'm a millionaire.
Publishing is like any other business--there are a huge amount of failures for every success and competition is murderous (especially since you're dealing with a corporate-dominated market.) Still, the bottom line is that good product is always in demand, and if there's a special niche you can fill and you can deliver, it's definitely worth taking a shot. It helps to have connections in the industry, but that's not absolutely essential. It's also much, much easier to sell nonfiction than fiction, and having a proven track record as a writer also helps (the industry is always looking for authors who can produce not just one really good book, but lots and lots of them so they can make a brand out of you.)
This is a lousy time to be a professional writer in terms of earning potential (but then despite what you've heard about Stephen King and Stephenie Meyer, writers don't make the big money--for the time and effort there are many more lucrative professions) but with the advent of digital formats and the slow-motion collapse of the corporate publishing and distribution structure (RIP Borders) creative and adventurous writer will find ways of connecting with readers.
r4 are you Ted Casablanca?
If I write "Datalounge, the Inside Story" do you think I could get rich?
Reichen, is that you?
Nope, I'm neither Ted Casablanca or Reichen, lol!
And you're not a sociopathic (actual former) whore like Josh (authenticated) Kilmer-Purcell, but don't start using a thread here as your own personal, shill-infested infomercial for your crappy book, OP.
That schtick's been done.
Point taken R17.
Back to the topic at hand. Another reason why there may not be more successful writers (in the US) may be that there is a large percentage of the population that does not read books, period. The only reading they may do is connected to their job or reading relevant materials to manage to their personal and/or family lives.
HOwever if more Americans read for pleasure, would this mean a few more writers might become big success stories on the marketplace, or would an increase in readers just mean more sales for the big authors?
r18, it's not so much that there aren't huge numbers of recreational readers (comparatively speaking there aren't that many scrapbookers or NASCAR fans either) but those who do read tend to read a lot and have strong enthusiasms for certain authors and genres. The lazy, greedy media corporations go after the same old established markets for romance, mystery et al., but there's room for more agile start-ups to go after something different. Graphic novels and manga are examples of print genres that evolved under the radar and became very successful in their own right.
I've also self-published btw and consider myself a "success" not by the number of units sold (that would be pitiful by anyone's standards) but because the damn things are out there and have fallen into some of the right hands. Sometimes it's just enough to know that you've created something, that it still exists and will be out there in case anyone who needs it happens to run across it.
"consider myself a "success" not by the number of units sold (that would be pitiful by anyone's standards)"
Why would that be pitiful? One of the strongest tools that helps a book become popular is word of mouth. Readers tend to buy books that other people are saying "that's really great!" about. I wouldn't be so dismissive of popular books or popular genres. Maybe the people who read those kinds of books really enjoy them, and what's wrong with that?
The self-publishing market replicates the publishing industry market. In fact it's worse, as there is a far greater concentration of mainstream genres (thriller, vampire, romance, crime) and it's over-dominated by the "I have a great novel inside of me" crowd, although the novel they think they have inside of them is more likely to be a pile of crap.
"anyone who needs it". What does that mean? You published a self-help book?
"After you publish the book, do you have to do a lot of promotion to advertise it? How much energy and time does a successful writer invest in his book?"
OP, if you have a publisher then once you have published your book they will help you with the promotion (ads, arranging readings, sending out review copies, general awareness-raising, networking). If you self-publish you will have to do that all yourself with very little budget and few contacts.
A book can become successful for a number of reasons. If you want to shift a lot of copies, it helps to have something people want to read. Ultimately, the biggest thing, I think, is that it becomes a "hit" and is seen as something a lot of people want to read, it's popularity is spread through word of mouth.
Linked is info on a good book I read recently, Secrecy by Rupert Thomosn. I'd never heard of the author before but he wrote a fascinating article in a newspaper on the background to writing the novel, and so I got a copy (admittedly when it was the Kindle Daily Deal on amazon.co.uk, although I was still going to buy it at some point). Now I'm promoting him to others!
My husband managed to quit his job and now writes full time. Nobody is getting rich off it but he's got a loyal fan base and managed to get a really reputable agent out of the deal.
When self publishing, spend the money on good editors and good cover artists. Always be kind to anyone who shows even the remotest interest in your work.
I'm really proud of him.
You're "proud" because he no longer works a real job and you support him, R23?
R4, you really need to promote it more...if only so that it shows up better on google.
Get a friend to interview you and post a video on YouTube.
Start a blog.
Post photos of the cover with info on flickr...stuff like that.
Actually he makes more money than I do, R24. Even if that weren't the case, I'd still be incredibly proud of him. He's very talented. He has fans and lots of them. He's very happy and his commute is from the coffee maker to his desk.
R25 is right. Book bloggers are your friends. They do all that stuff because they love your books.
R23, I'm a big audiobook fan. Please tell your husband to insist on the right "casting" of the audio narrator. There is a series written by an author who bought out his contract because he didn't like the way the books were being promoted. His first book was truly outstanding and the next two were very good as well. The narrator of the first one was perfect casting. He just cemented the main character for me. The publisher used someone else for the second book and returned to the original narrator for the 3rd. After that the narrators were almost random and the series diminished in quality. But the biggest faux pas by this author after buying his contract was to narrate the last book in the series himself. Audiobook performance is not something that anyone can do and the changing character voices is not easy to do well. Not sure what this author was thinking, but with that act, he jumped the shark for me. I have no interest in his last novel in the series or any other ones from him.
R19, good point. Also have to take into consideration the sheer vast numbers of books published each year which are then added to all the other books published that one can find at bookstores, online, libraries, used book stores, garage sales, flea markets, etc. Anyone inclined to read a book has, theoretically at least, a huge array to choose from.
R20, I agree with your definition of success. Just having the tenacity to see my book through conception, writing, re-writes, edits, notes, formatting and uploading to Kindle and putting it out there for purchase has given me a sense of accomplishment. I hope that at least a couple of the people who purchase and read my book will enjoy what I wrote. That would be icing.