Friday, December 5, 2014

The Goldfish Bowl - A Publishing Analogy

The publishing world is so much bigger a deeper than I thought it was three months ago when I published my first book, The Watchers, Knight of Light.

There are a million different combinations of style, marketing networks, age group, genre, length, connections, alternate talents, target market, on and on.

I always tell authors there is no wrong or right way to publish. Everyone must find their own way.
I'm finding the same thing is true with marketing. Every author must find their own way and develop a niche.

Now for the Publishing Analogy

One upon a time there were two goldfish swimming in a goldfish bowl.
They both had dreams of one day becoming a big fish and seeing the world as a New York Times best seller.

They were joined by other fish.

So they swam in their bowl, round and round and worked together in critique groups perfecting their manuscripts.

Every once in a while, one lucky fish would get to go to a bigger bowl.

With computers, internet, greater education and more record keepers being born, the bowl got very full.

"The world is running out of water," cried one of the fish. "There is not enough readers for all of us."

How can the world be running out of water? Thought one author fish. The world is full of water.

"I'm going to leave the bowl and see what else is out there," little author fish announced.

"You can't do that," another fish said. "You need lots of money to do that."

"You need an agent first, then a publisher," Big-tailed Goldfish said.

"If you leave, how will you win awards?"

"There are too many authors out there -- and sharks. You will never survive."

"We must fight each other for the water we have left."

Little fish was scared at first, but then she jumped.

She had no idea what she would land in, but she knew there was more water in the world than just the water in bowls.

This is what she found:

Then something amazing happened. Little Goldfish wasn't little any more. The more room a fish has to swim in, the bigger they get.

Little fish said, "I have to tell the others about this. There is more than enough for everyone! Everyone could have a million gallons and there would still be billions of gallons left over.

So that's what I'm doing. I'm telling all of you that the publishing world is so big and there are so many ways to be successful. There is room for everyone! We don't have to fight over water.

I was talking with one of my good friends, Adam Sidwell. He has been an incredible support to me with lots of great advice and encouragement.

Before I published, I was a little scared to "jump out of the bowl" especially since I was doing it on my own.

I was worried about self-publishing and what "all the other fish" would think of me.

He said, "Who cares? No one will care but other authors and that's not who you are selling books to."

He's right.
If I want to win awards I will try to impress authors. If I want to be successful I will impress readers.

Adam is a VERY successful self-published author with sales dollars in the six digits and a movie deal.
Will he be successful with a publisher or self-publish? YES!
He will be successful any way he publishes because he knows how to sell books.
Remember, publishers don't sell books, authors do.

He has found his own little ponds and rivers with lots of room to grow. More than once Adam has said to me things like:
"You can do it!"
"Your doing it!
"You did it!"
and yesterday he said, "You and I see the world a lot differently than other authors."

I learned a lot from my last tour to Arizona. We did really well and broke records. At one location they said the only two authors who had ever sold more than me in a single signing was Hilary Clinton and Emmitt Smith. (Next time, Hilary is going down.)
At another location I had people fighting for the damaged copies at the end when I was just about sold out.

Here is what people didn't see:
I was exhausted at the end of the day. One night I couldn't eat dinner because I was so tired. I just collapsed in bed and as soon as my eyes were closed I was asleep. I earned every penny that day.

I sold about 100 books at one location. approximately 2000 people passed me which means I was rejected by 95% of potential readers. =( *Sad face*
A few of my rejections were harsh. When I told one woman that my book was a clean middle grade fantasy, she dropped the book on my table as if it were a snake and rushed away from me.

It reminded me of my years of querying and getting hundreds of rejections from publishers and agents. I told my husband, "If authors can't handle rejections from agents and publishers then rejections from readers are going to kill them."

I'm not pro or against self or traditional publishing. There are so many different ways to go about producing a book, but a few things are universal:

Authors have to learn to sell their book in one or two sentences.
They have to sell themselves as authors.
They have to think like business people.
95-99% of people are going to reject you - even if your book is awesome.
Don't get discouraged. Don't give up.
You will have to work harder than you've ever had to before.

For my author friends, I just want you to know there is room for you and plenty of room to swim freely. We never have to fight each other. We should all support each other and be inspired, because if one of us is successful that just means the ocean is bigger than we thought.


  1. I think you wrote this post for me. You have much talent and such a sharing heart. I think that's what they call success. :)


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