When it comes to the publishing industry, I have pretty much seen it all: self-publishing, traditional publishing, and everything in between. I self-published my first book in high school, had a book traditionally published in college, and started my own publishing company in grad school. I think about how much I didn’t know about the industry when I was just a starry-eyed high schooler writing a book, and when I talk to people about publishing now, there are misconceptions about the industry I hear over and over.
1. There are usually between 600,000 and 1,000,000 book published per year in the US. Yes, that’s a lot of books. And that number keeps growing. Because of the ease of self-publishing allowing more authors to share their work and new niches and topics to write about all the time, there is a big market for book publishing. Also, of course, the internet has been a tremendous help in helping people to connect with publishers or learn about the publishing industry on their own to get their books out there.
Of course this means that there is big competition for authors, which brings us to the next pointl…
2. You Probably Won’t Sell a Million Copies unless you’re a Kardashian or Trump or some other non-authory celebrity. The point is new authors so rarely make that million books sold mark that it is like winning the lottery. That is why book sales are really not the best marker to determining an author’s success. Instead, book reviews are a better indicator. Amazon has been doing a good job of keeping phoney reviews out of their website, going so far as to actually sue those who were being paid to review books. While not all book reviews are created (they are based on someone’s opinion), if a book has some good reviews on Amazon, that is a pretty good indicator that it is a good book.
3. Being Published Doesn’t Automatically Make You Famous.
As you may have guessed by the stats of just how many people publish books per year, being an author does not equate to fame. I learned the hard way. I self-published a book in high school, and when the paparazzi didn’t start stalking me, I just assumed that it was because I was self-published, and there is a stigma around self-publishing. So, I wrote a new book and started sending queries to publishing houses. When my book was picked up by one, I figured this was my big break. Again, no dice. At least not in the earth shattering can’t walk down the street sort of fame people imagine authors having. I did get to be in some newspapers and magazines and do readings at Barnes & Noble, so that is a nice mini taste of ‘the good life.’ If authors are prepared realistically about their chances of fame (which are slim to none) they will really appreciate the smaller things (like local readings and signings or when someone actually Tweets about your book.)
4. You Probably Won’t Be Published by the Big Four book publishers. And even if you are, if you’re not famous, you’re probably not going to have a bestseller.
The big four are so selective. They’re like ivy league colleges, only there’s a lot more competition and it’s even tougher to get in. An agent can help, but you really need to have a large following on social media and be pretty notable. These companies have different tiers of authors and if you are a new author who is lucky enough to be published, you won’t get the same treatment as big name authors. You will have to do a lot of work and promotion yourself, because having that publisher’s big name behind you is your reward. Oh, and about author advances, you probably won’t get one.
5. Books Aren’t Dying.
Don’t believe everything that you read. Contrary to what some will have you believe, the book industry is not dying. It is changing, but not dying. There may not be as many brick and mortar bookstore, but that doesn’t mean that people aren’t reading books. In fact, more people read today than ever.
6. Self-Publishing is Not Ruining the Publishing industry.But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a stigma attached to it. Don’t let that discourage you, though, because there are many quality self-published books.
Self-publishing is introducing more and more people to the literary world. That is bringing more books of varied topics to the world and spreading many new ideas not previously talked about. It’s actually pretty incredible to think just how amazing all these new ideas are and how they are shaping the world, especially through their ease of sharing online.
7. The Publishing Industry Unveils More New Products than Any Other Industry Every Year.
You probably don’t think of it, but every book is a product. It must be designed, produced, manufactured, delivered…they are products like any other. Can you imagine if there were 600,000–1,000,000 new models of cars released in the US every year? I don’t think we would have room for them.
8. E-books are Not Replacing Paperback Books.
There are two types of people: eBook readers and paperback readers…or are there? Many readers like to use both. eBooks are great when you are traveling and do not want to carry an obscene amount of books, but can anything ever really compare to the sweet smell of a nice paperback? For a while, eBooks were looking like they were going to outdo paperbacks, but that trend seems to be reversing, as the two forms are now pretty well matched.
9. Book Publishers are Not Publicists.
Back in the pre-Internet era, a lot of publishers would do a lot of publicity for authors, and they still do. BUT now it is also on the author to get publicity and promote themselves. Most authors become their own brand-like entity, forming powerful social media personalities and promoting that way. That is something a publisher, no matter how good, just could not do for an author. Heck, some authors are even known to hire their own publicist in addition to their publisher. But the publisher does give something self-publishing does not provide: notoriety.
10. There are Many Ways to Write and Publish a Book.There’s not just self-publishing. There’s not just big four publishing. There are also indie publishers (like GenZ Publishing), where you get the best of both worlds of self publishing and big publishing. See, with an indie publisher, you have more creative control than you do at a big publisher, and the avoidance of being labeled a self-published author. With an indie publisher you are a published author.
By Morissa Schwartz
Morissa Schwartz is owner of GenZ Publishing (GenZPublishing.org). She is an author, Guinness World Record Breaker, singer, and proud semi-colon supporter. Morissa has a website at MorissaSchwartz.com. You can follower her on Twitter @MorissaSchwartz and on Instagram atMorissa_Schwartz.