That is the question. The question new, wonderfully unproven authors (of which I could be considered among the latter) have asked me in recent days.
"What would you do if you were me?" That's a fan fave. Let me hash this one out in writing, since that is what we do.
When I first walked into the writing/publishing world, as many of you, the ball game stood in favor of a completely different team. The traditional brick and mortar publishing houses held the key to success. Authors, who were common folk, pined and paupered themselves at the feet of these "giants." Agents, if they landed a dough boy (famous author who never wrote their own words, but contracted ghostwriters who helped them pump out a few titles every couple years) had it made. No more work for them. They could kick back and enjoy the commission from their pseudo-famous money bag.
Few saw much success in the arena of vanity or self-publishing, unless they were a phenom: a famous person who actually wrote and promoted their own book. Many tried self-pubbing just as I was tempted to do so; only few did well. The idea of pumping my own work to the world like a peddler on a bike made my stomach turn and legs ache. I never attempted. Just waited and kept learning/writing.
Then along came electronic publishing who had been a twinkle in the industries ornery techy-brother's eye since the 80's. Well, maybe knocked down the door would be more accurate. Beginning in the early 21st century, the pendulum of book writing, manufacturing and marketing swung. In a matter of a few short years the giants began to fall or at least run in fear. The Juggernaut Amazon became an instant 800 lb. gorilla in the room when it came to promotion and sales of eBooks along with publishing. Many joined the concept and grew, others fought and still do the moving trend toward eReaders and their eye-strained owners.
My answer to: What would you do if you were me?
--I'd quit dreaming of landing a deal with a traditional pub. I'd suggest pulling on the big boy pants (as I would too if this were my dilemma--achy legs and all) and fight for my own work. No agent. No large advance or three book-deal. Instead, I would publish electronically (and yes, I am promoting the biz I help manage). Even if I loved paper, and my goal was to print it on a dead tree, then I'd market the hay out of my work. Post free sections on Wattpad (here's a great article on a gal who used it to launch her career), buy ad space from Google, create a buzz with social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and be willing to try new ideas in marketing--so long as your book's integrity remained intact.
There is still no recipe or magic potion for 100% effectiveness in selling electronic work. Recent studies prove the consumer trends are still quite unpredictable when it comes to impulse buys. Strategies are being refined and developed everyday on the most effective methods to publish and market a written work. Cyberspace offers many opportunities and also many pitfalls. Copyright infringements being one.
Listen, this is neither an exhaustive rendition of publishing nor does it contain all the best ideas of marketing your book online. But it is an attempt at an answer to the above question.
Ta-ta for now, fellow readers.
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