This is my historical takeaway from my book efforts for 40 years. I’m trying to summarize the experience, the efforts, the vanity world, and my frustrations or failures in marketing. I am lucky and grateful to have generated some books I enjoyed writing, and the successes in at least putting them out there. Without you none of this would be possible. I am really appreciative.
First Lesson: Lots of vanity presses are happy to take your money up front with great promises of how they are going to promote the book. This is almost never satisfying nor successful. They are all about getting paid up front. Efforts to suggest alternative opportunities for them to make money are just not accepted.
Second Lesson: Lots of mildly successful books did begin as a cheaper ebook that is aggressively marketed, and ultimately turned into a hard copy. Promotion of a book is suggested by the vanity presses whereby the author is encouraged, but not paid, to attend major book publishing fairs. This is almost never successful. You pay to have your book on a table that is usually ignored by the major publishers. However there are enough semi successful authors who have followed this path to provide an intoxicating teaser for authors.
Third Lesson: In a digital age, there are many more opportunities to circulate ebooks and downloads. But authors are competing with thousands of authors and new books. You pretty much need to quit all aspects of your life to devote to promotion and marketing. Also, ebooks are the rivals and enemies of hard copies.
Fifth Lesson: Readers like to get to know the personna and personalities and blogs of the authors. You often are advised to try to become a personality that responds to hundreds of reader emails and contacts.
Sixth Lesson: Famous or powerful people get attention. Unknown folks don’t. A former governor will produce a book (usually ghost written via interviews) and publishers and readers will gobble it up.
Seventh Lesson. To be taken seriously by publishers and bookstores, you often need to have a well paid agent. Paying for the agent is a bit like paying for a vanity press to produce initial copies. The agent wants the money up front, and you are rolling the dice as to whether it will pay off. Just to sign up with a recommended agent would have cost about $4k.
Eighth Lesson. Get to know how to use paypal.