The Dollars … Cents … and Sense of Publishing

This past week, an article … a kind of “pity me” article … appeared in an edition of the Atlantic magazine. 

The author shared how she had been pitching to traditional publishers and agents for a decade; how she had several novels and other unpublished works on her computer; and how she is going to hold out for a traditional publishing contract.

I got tired of her whine and what she was writing and eventually posted my thoughts in the Comments section—some of which are below. For those who know me, they might think—Judith is going to say, “Get over it.” Yep, I was thinking about doing that (and I didn’t directly say it), but there is more.

What I said was,

It’s time to do a reality check and have a “come to book meeting” with self or a publishing coach. The publishing world has morphed significantly and will continue to. Plan A could be to be picked up by a traditional publisher; but what’s Plan B? Is Plan A laden with too much vinegar … is it time to do an assessment?

  • What exactly is any aspiring traditionally published author doing to enhance his or himself to a potential suitor?
  • Are there marketing skills?
  • Is there a true social media presence in the platforms that the “who the reader” is present?
  • Does the author know how to verbally pitch self and book within 15 seconds to a reader/buyer or acquisition editor?
  • Does the author know what the unique factor is and what sets him or her apart from the competition?
  • Does the author know who the top influencers are in the genre and following them?
  • Does the author get that publishing is a business and a book is a product that needs a marketing plan behind it?

It’s excellent that the article writer is striving to learn the craft revealing that she had spent over $20,000 in attending writing conferences, hiring editors, etc. … but publishing successfully needs far more than craft. It needs a plan and plenty of the GOYT Factor—Get Off Your Tush … and stop bellyaching.

The statement that she’s never met anyone who has successfully self or indie without working hard tells volumes. It doesn’t matter if a book is traditionally published or at the other end of the spectrum, self-published. Publishing is work. Traditional publishers expect authors to be aggressive marketers. If fact, many are now requiring contracted authors to commit up to 50% of the advance to hiring a publicist and/or book marketer to be in play. This wannabe author is hanging out in the wrong places—writing groups are loaded with those who love to write … but won’t or don’t put the energy into learning what the business of publishing is all about or what needs to be done to market a book.

I speak at many writers’ conferences–the dream is bantered by attendees. Lots of programming about narrative and plot development with fun names. Agents are in residence to take pitches. Few writing conferences/workshops have extensive marketing how-tos–the reality check. The author appears to want to be “kept”… as publishers did decades ago with the authors–nurturing, publicizing and marketing. That was then. This is now.

There are many, many authors who are selling many thousands of books–far better than what NY brings to the party for the typical mid-list author. I was a kept author (and yes, I enjoyed it), leaving traditional publishing in 2000. Since then, I’ve far outsold what any NY publisher did for me. And so have many.

Traditional publishing takes work. Self and Independent Publishing takes work. Why should any author be surprised? Maybe, it’s time to

and move forward with Plan B … or start with Plan B … maybe the Prince Publisher will find you.




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Judith Briles is a book publishing expert and coach. She empowers authors and is the Founder of, a membership organization created for the serious author who wants to be seriously successful. She’s been writing about and conducting workshops on publishing since the ’80s. Judith is the author of 35 books including Author YOU: Creating and Building Your Author and Book Platforms (Foreword IndieFab Book of the Year), Snappy Sassy Salty: Wise Words for Authors and Writers and a speaker at publishing conferences. Book #35 was published in 2016: How to Avoid 101 Book Publishing Blunders, Bloopers & Boo-Boos. Get your copy now.

Each summer, she holds Judith Briles Book Publishing Unplugged, a three-day intensive limited to a small group of authors who want to be seriously successful. In 2017, the dates are June 22-24th.  Her audio and workbook series, Creating Your Book and Author Platform is now available. Join Judith live on Thursdays at 6 p.m. EST for “AuthorU-Your Guide to Book Publishing” on the Toginet Network at

Follow @AuthorU and @MyBookShepherd on Twitter and do a “Like” at AuthorU, and join the Facebook group Book Publishing with The Book Shepherd. If you want to create a book that has no regrets, contact Judith at

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