A client wrote me recently and asked what I thought of his using a publicist to promote his book - to the tune of $4,000 per month. In my usual blunt fashion, I responded by telling him most self-published books never sell more than 100 copies, that 2000 sales is considered excellent in the industry and that the number of people who sell between 50,000 and 100,000 can probably be counted on one hand. I just wasn't sure the publicist would give him the facts, since said publicist stood to make a lot of money off this author, whether he sold a book or not.
After a while I started thinking that I'd painted a rather bleak picture of the entire industry and realized that while yes, many self-published books make very little money, there are exceptions, and his book - or your book, could well be the exception.
Success stories are not hard to find. There's MJ Rose for instance, who published her first book electronically and later sold it to Doubleday. Since then, her career as an author has taken off and she recently announced the sale of three paranormal thrillers.
One of my former clients, Paul Clayton, used Booklocker to produce his war novel Carl Melcher Goes To Vietnam and it was picked up by traditional publisher, Dunne Books. Likewise, Marnia Robinson whose Peace Between the Sheets, was also purchased by a traditional publisher after its release through Booklocker.
I had another client, also published through Booklocker, interviewed on both 48 Hours and Good Morning America. Yet another sold almost 1000 books in two days, although he did not use any self-publishing company and managed the project independently.
According to industry experts (read: those who stand to make gobs of money if you self-publish) there's little chance that a new author will be able to sell a book to a traditional publisher in today's market. At least one company owner will quickly assure you that even if you do manage to sell your book, you won't get a large advance, if you get one at all. Perhaps. Whether it's true or not, this certainly wasn't the case for 27-year-old Marisha Pessl whose first novel recently sold at auction for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The fact is that if you have a good book and there's a market for it, there's no need to let others dissuade you from trying to find an agent or traditional publisher, if that's the way you want to go. There are also many reasons to self-publish (particularly if you have a niche market). Just make sure the advice you're receiving is unbiased.
Cathi Stevenson is a former newspaper writer and editor who has more than 2,000 published articles to her credit. In publishing since 1981, she opened her own book cover design company in 2000 and since then BookCoverExpress.com has created more than 650 book covers for independent publishers and presses of all sizes. Read more of Cathi's articles about publishing at: http://www.thoughtblog.net