Being a writer is so much more than putting fingers to keyboard. Being a writer is a tedious and often thankless occupation. If you are an author, you may enter the industry thinking that you've written something so good that people will clamor to read it, propelling you into literary stardom.
Most of us will enter the industry with that dream and many of us will leave it because we've deluded ourselves into thinking that this will be our big payoff. We listen to the feedback (especially if it's good) and hope that we get to claim that lightning in a bottle.
What we don't realize is that it very rarely works out like that. We think that we are the exception as opposed to the norm. It happens to everyone, myself included. But simply because my books didn't do what I wanted it to do initially doesn't 't mean that I don't have talent nor does it mean that the payoff isn't forthcoming. It just didn't happen as quickly as I wanted it to.
Writing for profit is a business and it needs to be treated as such. Talent alone will not get you to where you want to be. You have to be prepared to pay your dues and take your knocks. Above all else, you have to learn the industry.
I've learned that you cannot know too many people in this industry...but in the course of forging those lasting business friendships, it's important to network with the right people. I've learned the true cost of printing a book, how to get that book made available by some of the major outlets online as well as how to promote a book effectively. Or at least I'm still learning the latter portion of the last sentence.
I've listened to other owners of publishing houses regaling me with the stories of high maintenance clients who want that publisher to do everything under the sun to propel their writing careers into the stars...all without them having to do any work on their own.
It doesn't work that way. How can you place your hopes and dreams for success in the hands of someone else if you aren't willing to invest the time and energy in learning the very industry that you want to be successful in? It doesn't matter if you are paying your publisher or not. Remember, your dollars are for services rendered, not for literary stardom. Somewhere along the line, you have to take responsibility for yourself.
If you were launching your business in any other industry, you would do everything within your power to ensure your success. Why would writing be any different?
Before you launch your writing career, do you homework respectively. Learn as much as you can about the industry. This way, you'll have a better idea of who is telling the truth versus who is outright lying. And in the long run, the truth will set you free. After all, knowledge truly is power.