"I am the author of (redacted), published by Publish America."At the end of her post, Janet cautions aspiring authors against groveling. You may think you're being modest or respectful, but in fact, the message you're sending is that you don't respect your work enough to champion it in the marketplace.
And that's where I stop reading. If you've had a book printed by any of these template houses that profess to publish but in fact do not offer any of the additional value of a publisher, for the love of Mike, don't mention it. Ever. This is not a publishing credential. It's also a huge disadvantage. Once you've published a book, you're no longer a debut author. It's MUCH easier to sell a debut novel than a second or third from a writer who hasn't enjoyed robust sales.
Sixteen years ago, I got some equally straight-shooting advice from an unexpectedly candid collection agency thug who'd called to shake me down for a hospital bill. Drowning in the expenses and lost income from my cancer treatment, Gary and I had turned to Consumer Credit Counseling Service, who advertised that they could make arrangements with our creditors and help us avoid bankruptcy. When I told ThickNeck that we hoped our enrolling in the program would send a message that we were nice, responsible folks, he actually laughed out loud.
"The message you're sending," he said, "is that you need a babysitter to pay your bills for you. At this rate, it'll be twenty years before you get out from under the medical debts. Declare bankruptcy. Send the message that you got wiped out by a lousy situation that wasn't your fault. You'll be able to get a mortgage in two years." (Two years after our subsequent bankruptcy, I asked the the loan officer handling our mortgage if this was true, and sure enough, it was.)
When people invite me to speak for free because "it would be great exposure," I have to remind myself that I don't want to be exposed as someone who works for free. Same goes for people asking me to write proposals "on spec" or for a fraction of my asking fee because they have lots of big time friends and would pass my name around. The last thing I need is to advertise myself -- in any crowd -- as Bargain Bin Betty. On the flip side, I'm preparing to shop a proposal I've been working on for three years without being paid a dime. When I meet with editors in New York next week, I hope they'll see that as a sign of my unreserved passion for this project. And I think they will, because I'm known as a person who doesn't just give my work away.
I don't cut my rates for the same reason I don't miss deadlines or get drunk at publishing parties or show up for meetings in my jammy pants: I worked hard to establish a solid professional rep. I work even harder to maintain it.
So there's some straight talk for you. If you can take a little more, click here to read the rest of Janet's excellent advice.