If you’re new to this writing gig, you have probably experienced the catch 22 that you have to be published to get published. But there’s even more. As publishing houses are downsizing their lines, they are taking fewer risks on new authors. Read through Michael Hyatt’s article and take note of what he said. I’m highlighting a chunk of it here:
He writes: “[A and B (top tier) books] are generally more predictable. They are typically written by known authors or from authors who at least have media platforms and can help us promote them. Obviously, we have to find the next generation of talent, so we can’t afford to completely eliminate new authors. In fact, we will continue to take risks on those relatively few manuscripts that are exceptionally well-written. But we can still do a much better job of focusing on the authors and the content with the most potential. The problem comes at the bottom of the list—the “C” and “D” titles. These titles are less predictable and, as a result, pose the greatest risk. Our forecast accuracy is about 60% here. These titles usually have the least potential for a reasonable return on our investment. It is easy to get excited about a new author or a new title, but the truth is that you never know what you have until you publish the book and see if people are willing to part with their hard-earned cash to buy it.”
He writes painful but true words. Publishing houses are about bottom lines. If books don’t sell well, it hurts their bottom line. That’s why it seems like it’s harder and harder to get “in” if you’re a new author. But note what I highlighted above. “We will continue to take risks on those relatively few manuscripts that are exceptionally well-written.”
So, there’s your mandate. Become one of those writers. Try your hand at writing articles and columns, but don’t submit that book idea until your writing takes people’s breath away. Until your voice is utterly unique. You will shortchange your ability to be traditionally published if you force your writing out there when it’s not ready. Remember the adage: you only have one chance to make a first impression. Make sure your first impression dazzles, folks.
Here’s one thing that makes me curious as I read Mr. Hyatt’s savvy words. He does make concession for the need to build new, brilliant voices, but my question is (generally speaking), if the publishing industry resorts only to bottom line tried-and-true authors, how will they truly cultivate new voices? If all the money is spent on promoting those who don’t need promotion, how will new voices be heard?