As SJ and I were working to the wire on the WardSmith web site November 7, we noticed something that scared the bejeebers out of us. The updates SJ posted were only intermittently going live. Then they vanished altogether. Our web host was unavailable (severe health issues--there's way too much of that going around) so, reluctantly, we switched.
To a new host in the middle of a massive upgrade which trashed all of SJ's careful coding. *headsmack*
After several days' work with the new host techs, everything's finally up and running the way it's supposed to be. SJ and I have things we want to tweak and more stories to post, but if you'll pardon a little sawdust on the floor, everything's working fine--including our contest (Win a free download of With Nine You Get Vanyr and three Black Phoenix Alchemy lab imps...and maybe some other stuff too :D) and three (count 'em--Three!) excerpts linked to our main "Nine Sisters" page. Check it out if you're so inclined.
Meanwhile, I'm hip-deep in what the other bookstore chain fondly refers to as my media plan. Translation: getting galleys printed at Office Depot and sending them out as review copies. There are many advantages to being published by a small press. The level of editorial attention and interest received by each and every title at Samhain can't be surpassed. And the covers! Anne's cover for With Nine, in particular, is exquisite and lines up perfectly with the text. But the lack of a PR budget can be a stumbling block.
I can't complain. I worked in public relations for years, and as the editor of an online magazine. I've seen the publicity biz from nearly every angle. I know who I want to see the book before print publication and how to get the book to them. (Can't guarantee a review, but I know, firsthand, that's a crapshoot, so I'm not fretting about it either.) All I have to do is the grunt work. Time-consuming, but no big--and the cat keeps things from getting boring.
But the questions raised on the Samhain authors list show my situation is somewhat unique. It also shows how little most new authors understand the publishing business.
I don't pretend to know a lot, but I do know enough to know that part of the bump of an NYC publisher is the stuff the author doesn't have to do. New and mid-list authors from Avon to Zebra and all points in between don't have to produce those killer double galleys for Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist and Library Journal. Professionally produced review copies of SF & fantasy novels will automatically be sent to Locus (mag and web site), F&SF, Realms of Fantasy, Science Fiction Weekly and probably a lot of smaller pubs and web journals you've never even heard of without any effort on the part of the author. Maybe all that work doesn't result in a pay-out over and above the advance, but it does lay the groundwork for brand recognition and the sales of the next book.
And that's what's really important in this business--it's all about the next book. You can't ever look back. There's every chance your backlist won't be gaining on you.