A couple of years ago I blogged about a young adult (YA) book from a published author that I really, really, really liked—and the author honored me by leaving a comment to my post. Since then we’ve shared a few online interactions, with her offering careful communication and me trying hard not to come across as a creepy fan who is cyber-stalking her.
Ever since reading her first book, I’ve clamored for her next YA one.
Since then she published three junior (mid-grade) titles—all were on my Christmas wish list—and a fourth book in the series had a release date. She also has a children’s picture book scheduled for publication.
Being a Published Author Carries No Guarantees
The long-awaited YA follow-up was written and waiting.
Despite success with her junior titles, her publisher declined the new book, citing too low of sales on her first YA title. Her agent showed the book to other publishers, but none were willing to move forward with it.
To my dismay, the book I long to read was languishing on her computer hard drive. Understandably discouraged, she was considering self-publishing it as an e-book.
I think her publisher was making a huge mistake. In a few years, the fans of her junior series will move on to YA books. Though she currently had one title waiting for them, two (or more) would be better.
Aside from my distress over not being able to read this book, I see two lessons in this.
1. Low Sales Hurt
First, low sales on just one book can hurt our chances of another one being published. That’s a sobering thought. Today’s publishing world increasingly risk-averse, and it doesn’t take much for them to say “no.”
2. Be a Hybrid Author
Second, I think every author—even a published author—should pursue a dual-track of traditional publishing and indie-publishing, that is, to be a hybrid author. If one option doesn’t work, perhaps the other will. If both options bear fruit, all the better.
I encouraged my writer friend to self-publish her YA book. I was hoping she would.
[Update: Robin Mellom did indeed self-publish her YA book. It’s Perfect Timing.]
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Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.