As I occasionally mention here, I’m a novelist. I have a small but loyal publisher and a small but loyal following of readers. I’m not the kind of novelist who gets a lot of attention these days — primarily because my genre of choice tends to be something called “literary fiction.” Most people, when they hear those words, immediately put my books in the “only read when suffering from insomnia” category. They are wrong of course, but they won’t know it until one of my books has kept them up all night.
The main reason I’m mentioning my avocation today is to point out that very few writers ever achieve the status of self-supporting novelist. That’s not to say it’s not a worthy goal — it’s just unlikely. It’s a little like winning the lottery, though the pool of players is considerably smaller. For an indie author, the burden of finding editors and artists can be ridiculously time-consuming and expensive, which is why so many of them opt not to pay for those services. Instead, they do their best to edit their own work and rely heavily on their (usually limited) artistic skills to create the cover art. When their book reaches Amazon, it looks and reads exactly like what it is: amateurish. And then they are surprised when their book doesn’t immediately become a best seller.
The best that most of us can hope for is to win the support of a publisher — a group of people who will make it their goal to see our words in print. The greatest benefit of having a publisher is knowing that someone else is worrying about the details of prettying up your manuscript — including editing and layout. The support they provide allows you to move on and start writing your next novel.
The biggest myth about publishers of any size is that they have a team of publicists devoted to selling your book. THEY DON’T. Simply put, no publisher has the budget to assign a publicist to all of their authors. Ninety percent of the burden of building an audience always falls on the author — unless you happen to be Stephen King. And even Stephen King wasn’t always STEPHEN KING.
So, thank you, Jo Lowe. You made my dream come true. As the founder of Inknbeans Press, you accepted my novels and have continued to be one of my most vocal cheerleaders over the last several years. Thanks to you (and my readers), I continue to write. Who knows? Maybe I’ll write a lottery winner one day soon.