(The opening of this article is written by Shaina Wizov, our Communications Director)
You’re never going to sell any books if you don’t get a traditional publishing deal!” Uh…thanks for the great words of encouragement. Has anyone ever shoved this “advice” down your throat thinking they are actually helping you move along in your career?
I started my foray into food writing almost three years ago, and one of the very first things I did was contact local food publication editors for possible writing gigs. When one of the editors called me back, I was elated — until we started talking. I spent 30 minutes silently listening to this man shoot me down, tell me I had no idea what I was doing, and had no business even trying to do it. I was too stunned and angry to even speak, let alone defend myself at the end of the conversation. I kindly thanked him for his opinion, hung up, and proceeded to let out a loud wail of frustration. Who did that man think he was?! What gives him the right to criticize me and tell me I can’t do something when I sure as hell know that I can! Thoughts swirled around in my mind until I realized that I couldn’t sit there and dwell on how abrasive and just plain mean he was; I had to do something about it. So I started my food blog and 3 years later, I’m well-known in the local food scene as well in the online international food blogging community. I have my own following, and I’m even writing reviews for a huge local magazine. So to the man who thought he shot me down: I don’t even remember your name, let alone what publication you worked for, but I hope you remember our conversation and are kicking yourself for doubting me.
Authors: Take my personal anecdote and use it as your own piece of motivation for anytime you have felt as though you have no chance of getting your book traditionally published. Guess what? It doesn’t matter! You don’t need to, and it might even be detrimental.
First of all, there is NO job security with a traditional publishing company. Sure, they may offer you a big six-figure 3-book deal (don’t hold your breath), but if the first book does not do as well as everyone anticipated, they’ll likely drop those other two books and you along with them. There goes your big paycheck! Oh, and think a big publishing company is going to take the time out of their day to help you market your book? Think again. You are expected to market for yourself, or pay for the outside operations to do so. That way, when you fail, it’s your fault, not theirs. In the same realm as marketing is creating a brand. Your publisher is not going to come up with your brand strategy for you, nor did they ever intend to. Not that you want them to anyway; YOU are your brand. You’re really the only person who can establish this for yourself. Just don’t expect any help from a publisher…
Publishers look to self-published and indie authors for industry trends. Why? Because they are the ones who take risks, try new things, and always have pretty amazing rags-to-riches stories. The industry is making moves and becoming much more digitally-focused. Publishers and editors who have been in the game for so long don’t take to change very easily, so they probably won’t work with you to develop and refine your work to comply with these new changes.
You’ve likely been told that if you don’t have a publishing deal you’ll never see your books in stores, libraries, or anywhere significant. But that is just not true. There are so many successful books that started out indie or self-published. How many of these titles do you recognize?
The Joy of Cooking – Irma Rombauer
A Time to Kill – John Grisham
The Celestial Property – James Redfield
The Tales of Peter Rabbit – Beatrix Potter
Fifty Shades of Grey – E.L. James (She started her book on SOCIAL MEDIA!)
Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
Leaves of Grass – Walt Whitman
Chicken Soup for the Soul – Jack Canfield and Mark Hensen
Even more authors started out their booming careers as self-published authors.
Edgar Allen Poe
George Bernard Shaw
Henry David Thoreau
These are some of the most notable and quoted authors of all time. Wouldn’t you love to see your name added to that list? The next time someone say you need a “Big Five” publishing house to sell your work, proceed to read this list to them and tell them to take their useless advise elsewhere.
Robert Fletcher: Thanks Shaina! Well said! Just a note that we have helped publish over 5000 authors. Please visit www.SBPRA.com for more information.