A common myth (or several) about becoming an author published by a large publishing house is that you will automatically get a huge advance then make tons of money as people flock to buy your book, thanks in large part to the extensive help you get in publicity from your publishing house.
First lets dispel the myth of the “huge advance”. Advances are based on potential sales. Stephen King most likely gets a “huge advance” now after years of proven sales, but got the same piddly advance the rest of us get when he first started out. Also, the advance comes out of your sales – it’s called an advance because you have to make it back for the publisher in your sales (and in some cases pay it back if your sales fall short – shudder).
As to the myth of publicity from the publisher – basically, unless you write several books a year (think of Stephen King) or have a breakaway smash hit and churn out a series of books (think of the Harry Potter series) or crossover into other mediums (think King and Potter books for movies, George R R Martin for TV, Jim Kelly for podcasting and magazines, Scalzi for web books, etc), you are own your own completely for publicity and sales outreach.
I have two books through Wiley & Sons Publishing out of NY, under the For Dummies imprint. My most recent, Social Media Metrics for Dummies, just hit shelves in June (purchase link). Wiley offers some help with PR (public relations) in the form of collecting and promoting the speaking engagements and signings I set up on my own, connecting me with speaking engagements via their Wiley Authorities Speak program and approaching me with gigs that are appropriate for my book when they come their way. There isn’t really a “media blitz” or a “book tour” unless I self finance one (not gonna happen) or get sponsored for one (sponsors welcome!)
Since I knew all of this before I started and thought that attaining my dream of being a published author by a large publishing house was worth it, I am ready and willing to promote the hell out of my book and ensure it reaches success. Even more importantly than that, I’m promoting the hell out of it because I think it will help people understand how to measure all the stuff they do for themselves and their business online, and I love helping people.
So where do you come in? Well, it’s nice to toot my own horn all the time, but it’s the reader reviews, ratings, recommendations, ebook public notes and highlights, book reports and shared links out there that keep my book (and books by your other favorite authors) ranking high enough on sales sites to show up in search and lead to sales. For example, on Amazon, they put the star rating and reader reviews far, far down the book page – but those 4 and 5 star ratings and happy reviews are essential to a good ranking, which is essential to sales. So I get to beg for readers to go back to the page and review my book, because Amazon makes it inconvenient to do so.
Here is my Amazon rating today (a little trivia for you: other book sellers keep these hidden unless you buy access to the stats through the Neilsen system at $100+ a month, or you have to wait for the publisher to give you a lump sales number without bookseller detail broken out at the end of each month):
I want this book to be a best seller. That means that while 115,000 ish is great in terms of being on the virtual shelf with millions of books, it’s a long way from the top 100, which is what makes it a best seller.
Can you help me out? Buy, Share, Rate, and Review this book! Help it reach the top of the charts – it really will help you with your metrics in a way that is easy to understand. Here is the Direct to Amazon link if that’s your favorite store, or you can use the link in the paragraphs above to find it at your favorite book seller, including indies.