Original question from Quora:
How would JK Rowling get her first novel (HP1) published if she were starting today?
The industry has change a lot since then. She wrote it in 1990 and it was published in 1997.
Would she eventually find a publisher this time? Has the market changed so much that her first book would still be a hit?
Or, assuming the book is destined to be great, what would be her most likely process?
I think a lot of authors would try and get it published on the Kindle and hope for the best. Being an author who did that with my first book Creative Genius, I can tell you that publishing a book and selling a book are not the same thing.
Any fool can get a book printed or digitally distributed. Not everyone can get a book to sell. That’s a different skill.
When you talk about publishers, you are really talking about marketers and sales people who happen to sell books. They aren’t in the printing business, they are in the book selling business.
JK Rowling’s success isn’t that she is the most brilliant writer in the world. I say this as a fan of her work. Her success came from the fact that she wrote a compelling story and eventually a publisher put enough money behind it to get it in the hands of readers.
The rest is history.
But, here’s the tricky part. Most books don’t get that lucky. Whether you are on Kindle or in bookstores, only a small fraction of books sell the majority. It’s the 80/20 rule.
So, if she were starting today, she’d write her book. Maybe she’d get an agent and a publisher. Maybe lightning would strike and Harry Potter would become a global sensation.
Or maybe she’d publish on Kindle and nobody would ever read it.
The thing is, it really comes down to finding a way to sell the book to readers. If someone involved with the book doesn’t figure that out, there is no JK Rowling or Harry Potter in the mind of most people.
All of this is to say, there is no one way to be successful. Sometimes it’s the luck of doing the right thing at the right time with the right people around you.
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