Still Dreaming of Landing That Big Book Contract? This is Your Wake-Up Call

As many of you know, for at least a year now I’ve been telling any writer who’ll listen to forget about selling a book of theirs to any “real” publisher, and instead get busy figuring out how to sell their own work to their own audience. My case has been that (for one) about the only real thing left that traditional book publishers can do for an author is distribute their books to book stores — but that, in the very near future, they wouldn’t even be able do that, since book stores were inevitably — and soon — going to go out of business.

You can’t distribute to a place that doesn’t exist — or that’s so small there’s no space left for you.

Welcome to the future, fellow scribes. Borders is gone.

If you’re serious about making it as a writer, it’s time to bust out a hammer and some nails, and start building your own platform.

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  • Diana A.

    Sad, but not unexpected.

  • Christy

    So, a platform. Not an agent…….

    Now where’d I put that hammer?

  • Amen, brother! I self-published my humble little book 8 years ago simply because I had a story to tell and didn’t feel the need to wait for someone else to give me permission (or money) to share it. It was so urgent to me at the time to just SAY what I had to say. Sure, it would be GREAT to have a bestseller and the monetary perks that come with that in the form of fat advances and royalties, absolutely, but, I’ve never been motivated by money. I have a feeling that those who are waiting for their “big break” have other reasons for not striking out on their own. Perhaps fear of failure or, worse, fear of success. I just can’t imagine not doing (and sharing) something I love for lack of outside validation.

  • CC

    The problem is, I’m a terrible carpenter.

    I self-published my first book of poetry back in 2008. I sent nearly two hundred copies to newspapers, magazines, bloggers, and so on asking if they’d be courteous enough to write a review. Two did. Both reviews were positive, but that’s still less than 1% of the people who received a free copy.

    How many people actually bought the book? Under a dozen.

    It doesn’t matter whether I’m a good author or not. The book flopped because I’m a lousy publicist.

  • Ed

    Fortunately, the impending demise of the print industry means that the self-publisher needs only worry about the cost of his or her own time. It makes little sense for an author to print a bunch of copies of a book. The reason book publishers and bookstores are going away is that people are reading their books electronically now. So publish that way. And then, if you really want your book available bound, look into on-demand printers like A little technology and some good social networking skills and you can make your book a success. Maybe not a NYT Best Seller, but then again the New York Times will probably die right along with the rest of the print medium. 🙂

  • I currently have a query out with an e-book publisher that showed an interest in my fiance’s science fiction work. They also handle fantasy. I don’t know if they’ll show an interest in my work, though.

    Maybe non-fiction social commentary writers can build a platform, but I’m not so sure about semi-shy, antisocial loopy fantasy writers who write stuff that doesn’t even fully “fit” the longstanding formulas of the genre. (Some of my works, while set in other worlds, are completely devoid of dragons, actually) One of my works actually takes place in our world After The End but involves talking spirit-animals. How do I even build a platform for that? I have a blog now, but few read it.

  • Nora

    Yes, but please read this first: (good site in general, btw)

    Definitely click through the Chuch Wendig link — great blog post, awesome blog.

  • So those of us still wanting to be published just need to be a bit more creative about it then…hmmm.

    Well I am no novelist, but do short stories, essays and stuff like that. I am currently in the process of looking for publishers, but most are literary locations (a girl’s gotta build her writing resume, you know) and I am still blogging.

    I kinda am already my own agent, as no one else is editing, submitting, packaging my stuff but me. I’m early in the game, so we’ll see what success I’ll have.

    As long as I don’t have to use power tools, I may be able to build my own platform. Power tools stymie me.

  • ok. I’m intrigued. I hadn’t even thought of this way of getting a book published. It may now be time to put together a book of all those stories I’ve written over the years.

  • I didn’t know people didn’t know about this stuff. Maybe I should do a little series on what/how authors must now, for themselves, publish themselves.

  • Consider me a late bloomer to all this John. I never took the idea of getting published seriously until a year ago.,