Publishing is a crucial step to becoming a highly paid author, but that's not how most writers see it! Most writers see publishing as the final goal. "Once I get my book published, I'll have it made!" is a fantasy that far too many writers delude themselves into believing.
Most traditionally published authors I know earn very little, if anything, from their books. Some earned small advances of a few thousand dollars, while others received even larger advances. Regardless of how big the advance was, the vast majority of authors never received a royalty payment because the book sales aren't enough to earn out the advance.
Marketing is another crucial step to becoming a highly paid writer -- and because most authors don't even understand they're responsible for marketing, they never sell enough books to earn a substantial income. If you're hoping to get published, and that will solve all your problems, you're in for a rude awakening.
In the old days, everyone knew what you meant when you said "my book is published." Today, that could mean many, many different things. Is your book published by a Big Six publisher, a traditional publisher, an ebook-only publisher, a small independent publisher, a self-publishing firm, or something else? Did you self-publish it? Is it published as a paperback, hardcover, ebook, audiobook or app? Is it distributed through Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Nobles, Kobo, Smashwords, or one of the thousands of other book distributors?
The options for publishing today are too many to count. Because the publishing industry has changed so drastically over the last few years, most writers are still struggling just to understand what publishing is anymore. Well, I can tell you one thing -- it's not what it used to be!
A few years ago, everyone was talking about the differences between self-publishing and traditional publishing. But even in the last few years, the changes in the industry have been astronomical. There are more self-publishing options today than there ever have been. And there are more distribution channels for books than there ever have been before, and most of the books now sold are sold through distribution channels that didn't even exist just a few years ago! Add to that the fact that ebooks now outsell physical books by over 30%, and you begin to realize just how drastic the changes in the industry have been.
But even though these changes have come so quickly to the publishing industry, the perception of most writers hasn't changed at all. Most writers I talk to today have a simple plan: spend a few years writing a book and then get it published by a traditional publisher and live happily ever after.
The problem with this plan is that the odds of being successful are lower than the odds of winning the lottery!
First of all, the number of new authors becoming traditionally published has been in decline for several years.
Secondly, if you're lucky enough to get a publishing contract today, chances are you will never earn out your advance -- meaning you won't ever actually earn any money other than your advance.
And third, if you spend a few years writing your book, who knows what the industry will be like by the time you're ready to get it published?
At the rate things are changing now, chances are that in 5 years traditional publishing as we know it won't even exist. By 2016, Pricewaterhouse Coopers projects consumers will spend more money on ebooks than physical books. Today, consumers already purchase more ebooks than physical books, but since ebooks are much cheaper, consumers are still spending more dollars overall on physical books -- but not for long! So what will a traditional publisher even do in a world where physical books are only a tiny fraction of overall book sales?
Answer: they will become printers who have relationships with distributors, a shell of what once was the centerpiece of the publishing industry.
So instead of focusing on the differences between traditional publishing and self-publishing, I'd like to share with you the various pieces of the publishing puzzle and how they fit together so that you can: