4. Everyone is trying to sell to the same few markets. Try the places that aren’t getting attention. It all goes on Amazon anyway.
Submitting to the Big 5 publishing companies isn’t a bad idea. If you’ve got a well-honed manuscript that for some reason hasn’t hooked an agent, you should give it a shot. Big 5 publishers have the best editors, and promotion machines that will get your book out there and into bookstores. You will probably get paid a lot more if your MS gets chosen for publication than an indie press can pay.
However, here’s the thing: every other writer knows this. Competition is fierce. Big publishers are inundated with submissions. The chances are low that any particular one will get published. By that I mean yours.
There’s also the chance you aren’t writing a book for the masses.
If you are submitting, say, a book about some Persians on a planet in the far future who fight with tanks and planes, and there’s this “seed storm” that comes and sets things on fire, and oh, there’s ballroom dancing… your idea may not have enough mass-market appeal to attract a Big 5 publisher. That doesn’t mean you wrote a bad book. As Spinal Tap said, your appeal is more selective. That’s OK.
I went looking for smaller publishers that printed books like mine. I didn’t dismiss any out of hand because they were small, or had a bad looking website. The customer is going to almost certainly be buying the book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or some other online portal. I don’t care about the publisher website except so far as I need to be able to find the submission requirements.
There is some branding by the publisher. People do care if your book is printed by a publisher they’ve heard of. The effect is becoming less pronounced with the arrival of Amazon.com. People are going to brand you as an author. If you change publishers, most readers won’t notice or care. You are the brand. If you have a professional looking book cover, write well, and keep on producing books, you’ll have readers.
The lesson is to be open to possibilities that you wouldn’t consider at first. Maybe the book you wrote isn’t going to make you rich. And, hopefully, you will write more books. It isn’t the end of the world to be published by an indie press. I like it a lot.