I hear so many new authors claim when their first novel is published, they can now, “Quit their daytime job.” Even authors waiting for their first publication say the same. The truth is: don’t bet on it. I’m not saying this to ruin anyone’s dreams. I’m saying this as someone who’s been there, done that, got the T-shirt. Selling that first novel won’t put you in the same financial category as The Donald (Trump). In fact, some authors are lucky to earn enough from sales to cover the cash advance the publisher gave them.
And it’s not always the author’s fault. Some publishers, who shall remain nameless, will publish a novel and let it stay on bookstore shelves for at least three months—if you’re lucky. Despite good sales figures in your estimation, they’ll then pull the book and claim it had a short shelf life. One SciFi writer I know, who was published by a top ten publishing house, sold 6 novels as part of a continuing series over a six year period. According to him, once the publisher had earned enough to cover his $5,000 advance on each novel, they shredded the rest of the copies. Thus, he earned $30,000 over 6 years; hardly enough to quit his daytime job.
Other aspects are the writers themselves. In order to sell copies, you have to push your novels. This doesn’t mean selling them out of the trunk of you car. It means be willing to do mailings in the form of press packets to newspaper critics and hope they like your work enough to write a good review; mailings of those same press packets to bookstores that receive hundreds a year and tend to forget who’s who; word of mouth from relatives and friends to their everyday acquaintances pushing your novel; advertisements in newspapers and so on. The good news, though, is: once you get up to three or four novels, readers will recognize that you have talent and automatically buy your books. They’ll realize your first publication was not just a fluke. Another aspect is to find a quality publishing house that'll work along with you. I happen to have a few sweethearts working with me at this point
What I’m saying is: hang in there. Don’t ever become discouraged. It’s a long, hard process unless you have a publishing house willing to spend big bucks to promote you. Don’t start with such high hopes that when the let down comes you’ll quit. Anything worth having is worth working for. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
As a footnote: Don’t ever discount the Internet as a good resource for publicity. With millions of people scanning sites each month, you’re bound to be known eventually.