My query in-box has a new category these days: authors who've self published with the goal of a larger publisher noticing. There have been some amazing stories in the news about authors who've done just that.
We watch those stories very carefully of course. We're in this biz for money, not love, and if there's a place to find projects we can sell, you bet we're there.
If you're thinking of doing this, here's what to consider:
1. To get noticed, you have to sell a lot of books. By a lot I mean more than 20,000.
If this number doesn't daunt you, ask yourself this question: have you ever sold 20,000 units of anything?
If the answer is yes, ask this next question:
Have you sold something to 20,000 people, one by one?
If you self publish you are no longer just the author, you're the salesperson for your book. Do you have any experience selling? Did you love selling Girl Scout cookies? Do you like calling people and asking for money (as in fund raising?) Do you gladly spearhead the fundraising drive at your school, synagogue, church?
Be realistic. 20,000 units is a huge number of books. It's a hard number to reach even if you're published by a big publisher, with an accomplished sales force and established avenues to the retail market.
"But but but!" I can hear you sputtering--X did it, and Y too. And let's all pause for a moment and consider 50 Shades of Lovely Lolly.
Yes. All that is true. And yes, some people win the lottery twice. Your odds are worse.
This post is not to dissuade you from self-publishing. Have at it with all your might. BUT be realistic about what self-publishing is, and what it can accomplish. And more important what it can NOT accomplish.
First among the list for what it can't is launch a mystery series. Publishers are not keen on picking up Book #2 if Book #1 sold fewer than a 100 copies. And yes, they look. They look at Bookscan, which is NOT your friend if you self-publish. But mostly they don't look. Publishers love debut authors, cause they're easier to pitch to retail accounts. It's easier to launch a career than revitalize one.
2. There is no number two.