When Authors Don’t Try

No one ever said getting published and building an audience was easy.

Wait a minute…yes they have. There are lots of online gurus who say this all the time. Can’t write? No problem! Can’t tell the difference between an infinitive and a run-on sentence? Who cares! Readers don’t care if you can’t write. They just want to spend money on your book! It’s all about the big bucks and getting published!

Yeah. Whatever. I think it’s safe to say that those who follow this route quickly come to realize that 1) it does take more work and commitment than they present and 2) you DO need to put some time and care and effort in your writing if you expect to build an audience as a writer and be seen as credible as a writer. Not everyone who buys your work will leave a review, or if they do and they are all negative, that doesn’t inspire confidence in your work.

Did you read my post “What’s in a name? Your reputation”?

There are many publishers who invest the money and time to nurture new, talented, never-been-published-before authors. Our publishing houses publish new talent and will continue to do so. The “big dawgs” don’t care to gamble money on a newbie, unless that newbie has done all the ground work, built their own audience/market, and got some positive reviews. Then the major houses step in, offer a contract, and present the world with the latest “overnight success.”

Writing and creating your work is only half the picture (or half the book) with regard to the publishing industry. Publishing industry is a business regardless of whether your writing is your main source of income or not. Businesses must make money to survive. Period. If your work doesn’t sell, it’s not earning the publisher any money and you’re not getting a royalty payment.

REALITY CHECK #1: Authors cannot avoid self promotion if they really want people to buy their work. If you’re in a rush and just eager to get your name out simply to say that you’re a “published author,” I suggest you seek a vanity press.

REALITY CHECK #2: If your work doesn’t sell and you’re with a publishing house, then prepared to be dropped from your contract. If your book has poor or very poor (as in zero) sales, then don’t make yourself comfy at that house.

REALITY CHECK #3: No one is safe—unless you self publish. Authors get dropped from major houses for the same reason. Their books don’t sell or there are massive returns from bookstores and other retailers means the publisher is not making money, they are losing money.

We’ve had to let authors go, and I hate it. Not only because we’ve spent our own time and money getting their product to market, but because these are talented authors who deserve an audience. It’s a risk we take.

We’ve even had to release an author who won an award with the book we published. We even entered the contest for him! But this author, despite never being published before and winning an award for his first-time effort failed to promote himself or his work!

It’s not like we didn’t try. HE didn’t try.

After all the time you took to write your novel and get it accepted for publication,  can you squander the chance that others would love to have? That’s what this guy did.

Would you do this?

Here’s a tip from me: if you’re not ready to promote your work AND yourself, DO NOT SUBMIT YOUR WORK TO A PUBLISHER.

Waste your own time, not ours.

©2012. Zetta Brown

[Originally published May 9, 2012 for my “Reality Check” feature at SheWrites.com]

2 thoughts on “When Authors Don’t Try

  1. Ha!

    I see this. I recognized my own ignorance which is why I started blogging and as a book blogger, I totally see this. Some authors actually make it hard to promote them, they are so relaxed and un-involved. On a few occasions, I have searched extensively for some way that interested readers could find and follow an author’s career or easily purchase their book to come up with very little. It’s frustrating when I enjoyed their book!!

    I started blogging so I could figure out how to write & publish and I’ve gotten more than I imagined possible. I love this post. I wish I could send it to some specific people with flashing lights saying “Would you please try a little!”

    1. Hi Burgandy 🙂
      Unfortunately, many people simply want the bragging rights of saying that they are published. They get a buzz when they can go to a party and can say, “My book this” or “My publisher that.”

      They think that just because they have a book published, they can sit back and wait for the royalties to pour in.


      In the 21st century, that approach is the fast track to oblivion.

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