There a a lot of things holding authors back today. Every time I see statements like: “It has never been easier to self-publish” “Anyone can self-publish” “even famous authors are choosing to self-publish” and “The gateways have been opened” it makes me cringe. But the top 5 things that I think are holding authors back are as follows:
1. Indie hype- There is so much hype out there about indie publishing, based on the aforementioned statements. Authors are flooding the industry. More books are published every day than the population can even hope to read. And more and more authors are choosing not to submit to publishers. There are stories about how first time authors cannot be published by traditional publishers anymore, that indie publishers are getting picked up by traditional publishers, and other crazy stuff.
This all paints the picture that self-publishing is easy, it is the only option to hope to publish, and success is imminent. The truth is that any form of publishing is hard work. Do not buy into the hype!
2. Bad Product- Thanks to the Indie hype, wannabe writers are turning out in droves and producing books as quickly as they can in hopes of making a quick buck, becoming famous, or whatever happens to motivate them. They do not think about what traditional publishers have been doing for books for years. They do not consider editing, layout, graphic design, or marketing when they make that mad dash.
Do not be so eager to get your story out there that you do not take the necessary time to produce a thoroughly polished product. Get an editor, get a book cover worthy of being called a book cover. Look at the quality of traditionally published books and aim for that. No matter how great your story is, if you throw it out there without all the proper polish, you will never get anywhere.
3. Competition- Bowkers reports that in 2012, 23% of books purchased were e-books. the number of self-published titles in 2013 jumped to more than 391,000 and that is just self-published titles. They are estimating 1,761,810 books published overall for 2012. The numbers have gone up drastically since then.
On top of that, you are competing against movies, video games, sports, television, funny videos, stupid celebrity stunts, the internet oh... and people having a life. Stiff competition.
4. Marketing- no matter what the internet tells you, social media is not enough. The reality is that even if you have the perfect book, if you do not invest time and money into marketing it, the world will never know. You can have a horribly edited book, but if the marketing is done right it can and will sell hundreds of thousands of copies. (See 50 Shades of Gray.) You should start working on your marketing plan the day you decide to write a book. Start saving to pay for marketing, come up with marketing ideas, hire a professional marketer. Do not ignore this step! But the biggest thing holding authors back today is
5. The author’s own expectations- If you dream of being famous, rich, and writing peacefully in the woods, then the reality of e-publishing today will crush you. If you go into any aspect expecting it to be easy, then you are in the wrong line of work. From getting the story on paper, to getting the books into people’s hands; the world of being an author is hard work. If you expect anything less, walk away now. But if you cannot walk away, if you have to write the story, if you have to keep sending in your synopsis despite the pile of rejection notices, if you see 10 books sold this week and are excited that you got ten more readers rather than disappointed by the lack of sales then maybe, just maybe, the writer’s life is the life for you.