Self-publishers trade publishing dreams need excellence to provide better hopes. There are realistic, if remote, possibilities of being picked up by a “real” publisher. But only if you can demonstrate excellent sales, a sizable following, or ongoing usage (like coursework, regularly scheduled seminars, and the like).
I thought the image of Victorian woodtype might help drive home the concept of tradepub being a step back to a time which really doesn’t exist any more.
Traditional publishing as we knew it in the 20th century is basically gone. What it’s going to be in the future is, as yet, unknown. Yet, many authors base their fantasy life on being in a brick and mortar bookstore—even though they basically know that only bestsellers are found there.
Self-publishers trade publishing dreams are not bad
For most of us, they are just silly. Going straight to tradepub offers a very unlikely path. Self-publishing gives us an entry point that has not existed in the past. Unless you are a celebrity, no one cares about your book. You need to deal with that reality. Your job as an author is to build an awareness of your existence. Publishing houses no longer do this, and they haven’t for a long time.
Start your social presence immediately
It takes quite a while and several books to make your presence known. You need to determine your niche and find places where groups of that kind of person hangs out.
Be aware that every niche has a different sweet spot. Twitter works for Trump. It doesn’t work at all for me. I have no use for Linked-In—but many do. You need to find out where your readers hang out.
Popular niches may ignore this advice
If you write romances, erotica, mysteries, diet books, ways to get rich or thin or beautiful you can ignore this—maybe. However, even so, the industry changes affect you also. In these popular niches, self-publishers are now dominating sales. Royalty percentages are so high for self-publishers that tradepub carries a real risk of drastically lowered income.
But you need an excellent product
You need a professional cover. Excellence assumes top quality editing and proofing. It also assumes professional page layout and formatting. If you just drop your word doc directly into release, everyone will know it. You need excellent typography, extremely readable copy and layout, and a basic elegance—for almost any book. Without this production foundation you are crippling your chances of breaking into solvency. With a popular niche you may do OK. But for the rest of us, our path to success builds on our book design.
Do not ignore this!