When I finished my first novel in 2005, the publishing world was a far different place. Traditional publishing through an agent and mainstream publisher was still seen as the primary path to publishing success. That path came with numerous challenges. To get your book to even be considered by a leading publisher required you be represented by a literary agent. Securing an agent, particularly as a first-time novelist without an established publishing or celebrity platform was very difficult.
Agents were receiving literally hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of queries each month from authors pitching their books. Good agents were only taking on a select few authors who they felt had the most potential to have success in the highly competitive book store marketplace.
Even if you were successful in landing with a strong agent, got your book sold to a mainstream publisher and actually got distribution in book stores, the odds of your book breaking through against the steady flow of established author’s best-sellers were very long. I spent several years trying to navigate this gauntlet with little success.
As self-publishing or independent publishing continued to emerge over a decade ago as a viable alternative, I joined the growing number of authors of both fiction and non-fiction in creating our own publishing platforms.
When our books were finished, we found our own proofreaders and editors, book cover designers, book formatters, marketing and distribution partners and for many of us, began to grow a solid reader base. None of our success came easily, however. We were responsible for literally every aspect of our book’s development, production, distribution and marketing and we had to get each of these key categories absolutely right.
There continue to be companies that can help authors bring a book to market quickly and sometimes even affordably, but the author still needs to commit to relentlessly supporting and marketing the success of their books, consistently and over the long-term. Few authors find immediate or easy success. Those who persevere, stay true to a plan of action and refuse to give up, will often find their niche of loyal readers and continue to grow their base of readership.
Is this difficult journey worth the effort? Absolutely!
For all who have a book in development or who have been considering getting started, don’t delay. Keep writing and don’t let the doubts and fears and the many trials and frustrations of traditional or independent publishing hold you back. There is no greater joy than bringing your book to market and finding readers who are captivated by your story.
For any who are interested in sharing their publishing journey or would like to compare notes, please feel free to reach out.