Posted by: Katie B | May 23, 2010

One Success is Not a Guarantee

I have two stories to share with you regarding published writers.  I don’t mean to scare you off, but I was struck by how uncertain success is in the publishing business, even for those lucky enough to finally “make it”.  

Story #1:  Author gets introduction through published friend to friend’s editor.  Editor loves picture book and publishes it.  Amazing!!!  Author gets accolades and sells thousands of books in just three months.  Libraries are big purchasers.  Fantastic!!!  Then – nothing.  After initial sales frenzy, book sells only a few thousand in the following five years.  Editor does nothing to promote the book and it is slated to go out of print due to lack of sales.  Author has written consistently and finally sells her second book, seven years after the first, through another agent (who she also met through an introduction).  I give her a lot of credit for not giving up.  That must have been a long and frustrating seven years.

Story #2:  Author signs with agent over first novel, targeting a certain ethnic group.   Agent sells the book to one of the top publishers.  They launch it in hardcover, it receives loads of praise, and they set up a whopping two publicity events.  Author hires her own publicist and does her own self promotion.  She visits every ethnic organization in the tri-state area with book signings and speeches.  Promotion of her book becomes a second job.  Flash forward, publisher is debating release of her book in paperback due to low sales volume.  Author’s ability to sell her second novel is being impacted by sales level of the first.  Again, that has to be so frustrating.

Basically, the underlying message is that one success, or even two, is not a guarantee for long-term success, additional publications, a career, or a living.  Although if you keep working, sometimes for seven years, you may get another chance.

I promise my next post will be more uplifting…

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