The reality of writing today is very different from even JK Rowling’s start twenty years ago. She submitted to multiple pubs until she found one willing to help polish and prepare it for the little (and not so little) kids. Publishers or agents guided and promoted the author to their mutual benefir. Now, for some authors with a long term track sales record like Stephen King or Danielle Steel, that may still be true. But newer authors take a more direct hand in their publicity and brand; James Patterson went whole hog into TV ads long before his Zoo became a TV series, but others like Tess Gerritsen also bootstrap sales from multimedia presence.
For newer authors have to build that presence and many, many writing sites and teachers will tell us that we need to start doing this before we find a publisher or even self-pub. I’ve seen books, seminars and full blown marketing classes in getting attention for your writings and releases. Some advice is plain silly and some is way above my budget, while others, like networking with other authors in forums, critique circles, conventions, and classes can be more practical.
So I also hang out and connect with other writers trying to get started. One of those led to a invitation to participate in a holiday collection. I’m all excited and scramble to freshen my bio and make an extra goodie. I’ve released four collections so far and had only minimal purchases, even with a low 99 cent cost. As a test I made one free, and I got far more downloads even as an unknown author. I hope trades like this will help all of us to locate the eyeballs of people who might like our works.