Chew on This...
The publishing industry changes pretty much on a daily basis. The opportunities for independent authors have never been greater, and the barriers to entry have virtually disappeared. It's just not that hard to publish a book these days -- however, if you plan on being successful, you have to think of it as a business. The good news is that it's easy to get your book out there; the bad news is that a lot of poorly conceived, poorly funded, and poorly edited books also make their way "out there" in droves. The really good news here is that there are people to help you understand the business and your options and what you are getting into. (Hey, btw, we can help you with all that stuff!) Do your research (check behind their ears, look at their teeth, do a sniff test on Google).
Lots of Publishing Species From Which to Choose...
The new terms in publishing are coming fast and hard, and it's important to understand what they mean to you. I'm not going to give you a glossary of terms here, but suffice it to say, you need to understand the pros and cons of each publishing option. Don't sign anything until you really, really understand what everything means. Several publishing options are explained and expanded upon throughout this blog.
Who Let the Dogs Out?
Once you choose your publishing breed, don't change your mind and decide it should be doing something instead because some friend told you "You should do ______." Unless they are truly an expert, this is bad advice 99% of the time. Use the best features available from the method you choose and don't expect your method to do new tricks for which it is not set up.
Every day, I hear people who have chosen to publish through a print-on-demand company wonder why their book is not on the shelves of the bookstore. It can be a wise choice for many authors, but knowing your realistic objectives will be your guide. Without clear-cut, realistic, educated objectives, you could be caught chasing your tail.
On the other hand, every month, I meet at least one author who published their book with the fabulous intention of selling it in the back of the room after a speaking engagement. Good plan. A few weeks into the book's life, a friend walks up to the author and says "I went to the bookstore and they said they don't have the book. I want to buy it there." Of course the unspoken message the author hears is "What, isn't your book good enough for bookstores to carry it?" I tell those authors to say "No, bookstores aren't right for my book; however, I take cash, checks and all major credit cards. I'll run out to the car and get you one. I'll even sign it for you!"
The Tail End of It All...
Making your book available through as many options as possible certainly helps your customer make the decision to purchase your book. Don't buy into claims that your book will be on the shelves of every bookstore, because it won't. (And you don't want it there!) Being available to order at those places is good, however! There are 100,000 books in a pretty big bookstore these days. There are a million new books published each year, and some 30,000,000 titles currently in print, maybe bazillions more. Those aren't very good odds. My final thought is to help you remember that bookstores aren't your target end consumer -- readers are!
Know your plan and stick with it for success!