Being a First Time Author and Selling Books – A Dose of Reality

The news reports of a course in miracles bookstore by authors Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, and Karl Rove have been making headlines in recent weeks. Their books were published, hit Amazon, and these authors garnered even more fame, money, and celebrity as each scheduled book event drew to a successful close.

“If only I could get my novel published, I could buy that house in the country,” one would-be author laments. “Once my work is out there I can quit my office job and stay at home and write,” dreams another. All I need is a break, and it’s New York Times Bestseller List here I come!

Well, they’re right, aren’t they?

Nope. That is, of course, unless you already have a built-in audience numbering in the millions just waiting to part for a chance to meet you and get your autograph. If that doesn’t describe you, then let me share the facts – just the facts, ma’am.

Not everyone who wants a horse will be able to buy one. Not everyone who has a story will get published. What is common in both the horse and book scenarios is that the upfront cost is the easy part. Once you bring your dream horse home the serious bills begin to mount and the real work begins.

Ditto publishing a book in today’s market. Last year there were nearly a million book titles published if you add up the numbers from traditional publishers, self-published books, and e-books. I’ve seen reports that a successful book in the marketplace today is one that sells 5,000 copies.

Do you know how hard it is to sell 5,000 copies? We’ll get back to that in a moment, first let’s talk about the fun stuff – the money.

Authors who are published by traditional means are usually paid by royalties. Contracts differ among publishers and authors, but for the sake of argument let’s assume you will receive a royalty of 15% of the price the publisher receives for books sold into the marketplace.

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