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Why You Don't Hear From Your Publisher Once Your Book is Out

Jun 02, 2020

Last week, I told you that 99 percent of authors don’t hear from their publishers once their book is out.

Seems weird, right?

These are people, after all, who often paid good money to publish your book. They were very encouraging along the way.

So why are they ghosting you?

They’re ghosting you because even more than the entertainment business, even more than our current economy, the publishing business is divided into the haves and the have-nots.

Publishing Houses Know They’ll Lose Money on Most of Their Books

They’re banking on the Glennon Doyle’s and Brené Brown’s to make up for that.

In other words, they’re banking on the fact that they’ll have a few books that will sell millions and that will make up for all those other books they lost money on — books by people who think their lives will change as a result of those books.

I remember a famous-ish writer I met telling me that his publisher didn’t do anything to support him and his book…until the book suddenly, surprisingly, became a hit.

That’s when the publisher support started.

That’s when they put money toward ads and began trying to get him booked on NPR.

Publishers Want the Low-Hanging Fruit

No matter how much they may like a book, they probably won’t do much for it unless the book doesn’t need help. (Think of it as something as crazy as celebrities — that is, those who can most afford to buy expensive clothes — getting sent free clothes.)

If you’re not one of the chosen few, you may get responses from your publishing house in the weeks after your release when you reach out to them…usually that they pitched you to some local radio and are still waiting to hear back.

You turn on Good Morning America and see an author who’s with the same publishing house as you giving an interview.

You seethe.

You vow not to check your Amazon number but then check your Amazon number.

You refresh Amazon.

You cry.

You go out and all anyone does is ask you how your book’s doing.

I know this not only because it happened to me six times but because it’s happened to a good three dozen writers I know.

And I’m one of the lucky ones! I have a book that hit the New York Times bestseller list. My books have received coverage from The Today Show, Cosmo, The Talk and everywhere in between.

But Here’s the Thing: I Made It Happen on My Own

I got myself on The Today Show, got Cosmo to cover my books. My publisher didn’t do anything because they were too busy doing things for the Elizabeth Gilberts.

Why, I couldn’t help but wonder, have a publisher at all when they weren’t doing anything except making me feel irrelevant?

A writer friend, one who’s published four books but now talks about getting his teaching credentials, once said to me, “I feel so sorry for people the week a big publishing house releases their book.”

It sounds hyperbolic to say it’s traumatic but I don’t know what else to call it when you watch your dreams not so much go up in flames but just never catch fire at all.

When you face the fact that your book is two sticks and will remain two sticks, you have two options.

You Can Give Up or You Can Look for Another Way

After years of choosing the former — contemplating trying to get a career in advertising and then spinning my wheels trying to make a living editing websites — I chose the latter.

That’s when I launched a hybrid traditional/self-publishing company that helps people write and publish their books.

That’s when I got to put all those years of slugging it out with traditional publishing to use.

Now I get to help already successful people become bestselling authors and it’s infinitely more satisfying than the time I spent writing my own books for the big publishers.



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