Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What Do You Do If That First Book Doesn't Sell?

I have been asked this by several authors lately. Either they were selling their book on their own to publishers, or they had an agent attempting to sell the book to the publisher. In each case, the list had been exhausted and the book just didn't sell. Now what?

What I have found interesting is that the authors (and in some cases the agents) have made the recommendation to either sell it digitally or self-publish it. So, is this a good idea?

Personally, in my humble opinion, this is the worst approach to take with the story. What I have recommended to my authors is to hold on to the story. In some cases, we are able to do something with it after the next book sells. I personally believe that putting that book out there after it has been rejected is sending the wrong sign to the readers (and yes the publishers or agents) that might be interested in your later books. You want to put your best work out there and maybe, just maybe, that rejected book is not your best.

Look, self-publishing or digitally publishing with small presses is not the wasteland of forgotten or lost books. There is a legitimate place for these and authors using it as a dumping ground may find that they have shot themselves in the foot later on when that book might have a place.



  1. You bring up a good point, in that if something is bad, one shouldn't release it. However, rejection from legacy publishers doesn't mean something is bad; it only means they thought it couldn't make them money. That is behind many author's decisions to self publish. If only there truly were a meter for how good or bad a book is, I'm sure people would use it. Unfortunately, acceptance or rejection is as close to that meter as an apple to an orange.

  2. I put my firt novel on Smashwords after I could not interest a publisher. Now, I am writing a second. Since interest in the ebook came only when it was free, I am considering pulling it al together. Short stories seem to do much better as ebooks.

  3. My interest in making my book available before it is published is to appease a certain group of people the book is about. They don't want to wait another year to see if any agent or publisher would print it. I'm not sure what to do.
    The stigma of self-publishing because no one would take the book, doesn't help the decision.
    I guess it's better to make people wait and try the traditional route first.
    If thousands are interested in it now, they'll still be interested in a year or two. Right?

  4. Intersting link on a woman who did self-publish and was a huge success.