I figured since I’m in the middle of two publications–The Bloody City this past Tuesday and One Night In Cleveland this coming Wednesday–I would espouse a little wisdom about publication. Mind you, this is about traditional publication, since I’ve never self-published and I know that’s a whole other animal. These are a few interesting things I’ve learned and observed.
10 Things Nobody Tells You About Being (Traditionally) Published
- You’re still your own biggest cheerleader. Your publisher will put some promotion into you, but you still have to do a lot of self-promotion. You have to get yourself out there, shake hands and kiss babies. You still have to do a lot of the footwork when it comes to peddling your book. You can’t simply sit back and let the publisher do all the work–or you can, I suppose, but the results won’t be very good.
- You pay your own way. Do you want to go to a conference? You’ll pay for that yourself–entry free, hotel, travel, stuff for your table. Want some swag? Design and pay for it yourself. Want some of your own books for free to give away/sell? Ha ha ha, it doesn’t work that way.
- You won’t get rich quick (unless you do). Your first book almost probably won’t be a runaway bestseller. Maybe not your fifth book. Maybe not your tenth. That’s okay, because very few authors become runaway bestsellers. That’s not to say you can’t or won’t, but if you don’t, you’re still awesome.
- You don’t need an agent. Disclaimer: I’m not saying nobody needs an agent ever. I’m saying you don’t need an agent to get traditionally published. Some people do have agents when they get published, some don’t. That doesn’t mean you won’t ever want/need an agent, it just means it’s not an absolute requirement for getting published.
- Your book is a product. Your publisher respects you as a person and acknowledges you as an author, but your book–and you to an extent–is a product and they want to sell it and make money. You have to be okay with that. It’s art, but at the end of the day it’s also a business.
- It’s (somewhat) easier to get reviewers to pay attention to you. If your publisher sends your book to ‘big’ reviewers you might have a better chance of getting it reviewed than if you sent it yourself. Maybe. There’s no shame in getting reviewed by smaller reviewers either–you want an opinion, right?
- Sometimes you feel out of the loop. Sometimes when your publisher is scheduling promotion for you, running contests, sending your book out to reviewers, getting it up on their site, and doing all the fine tuning that comes with publishing a book, you might feel a bit lost and like you’re sitting in the corner, forgotten. Sometimes you’re the last person to get a piece of information. Sometimes you unexpectedly find your book being advertised somewhere you didn’t know it was going. Don’t take it personally. I try to be happy they’re making a fuss over my book in the first place, and I send emails and ask questions when I feel like I’m out in the cold.
- Things get harder, not easier. When your first book gets published, you want to sit back and smile and feel proud of yourself. You should! But soon enough you realize you have to get back to work and this time, you have to prove yourself. You have an expectation to meet. More books to write. More pies to stick your fingers in. Balls you have to keep up in the air. You’ve just gone from an author to a business–and you have a lot of work to do.
- You can still get rejected. Even if you’ve been published multiple times, you can still get a ‘no.’ Your laurels alone won’t sell your writing, no matter how many you have. If you thought rejection before you were published sucked, wait until you get one after and find yourself clutching your pearls going “But…do you know who I AM?!”
- People ask you weird questions. Maybe this is just me. Here’s an assortment of actual questions I’ve gotten over the past couple weeks:
- Why do you call yourself Megan Morgan? Why wouldn’t you use your real name? (My real name is goofy, hard to say/spell correctly, and even when I explain I want an easy to spell/pronounce catchy name they stare blankly). One woman actually asked me what my mother thought of me changing my name like that. My mother is dead
- Is this a book for teenage girls? (????)
- Is this you on the cover? (Several people have sincerely asked me this. Why would I be on the cover of my own book that’s not an autobiography? And more importantly….the woman on the cover looks nothing like me.)
- Is there sex stuff in this? (Yep.)
- Why are you still working here (at my job)? (Because success =/= fame.)
And there you have it. A little insight into the publishing world. Feel free to add your own thoughts!