Path to Published Author

The path to becoming published is sometimes all too clear.  It’s easy to understand why a writer might opt for self-publishing rather than send out the 400 query letters that’s now seemingly the threshold for landing a bona fide agent.  I pulled a random day from Publishers Marketplace to show the mix of books that were signed during the prior 24 hours.  Look at the credentials for each writer.  The list ranges from several people in the television, to a defrocked sportscaster/baseball player, to a Congressional Medal of Honor winner.  Here’s what I’m referring to:

Among 50 new deals: Comedian and actor Eddie Izzard’s book about his life, to Blue Rider Press; Actor writer, and photographer Keegan Allen’s LIFE.LOVE.BEAUTY, a photographic journey, to St. Martin’s; Reporter Matthieu Aikins’s book of narrative nonfiction on Karachi, to Random House; Congressional Medal of Honor winner and veterans’ advocate Sammy Davis’s YOU DON’T LOSE UNTIL YOU QUIT TRYING, to Caliber; James Beard Award-winner Naomi Pomeroy’s OUI: Lessons From An Award-Winning Self-Taught Chef, to Ten Speed Press; Lenny Dykstra’s LENNYBALL, covering his time on the field to his time behind bars, to William Morrow, in a significant deal; and many more.

Back to the path to success.  On another day’s tally of  just-signed books I recently pored through, nine out of ten were works by people who had won a notable literary award in the past or had a guaranteed following for some reason.  Look at Zoe Sugg, a.k.a. Zoella of  YouTube fame (and who also has more than eight million followers on Twitter).  She ultimately admitted she had “help” writing her book that sold 87,000 copies the first week it was out.  I hope every subscriber is sitting down her reads this next line:  This is twice the number of initial week’s sales for either THE DA VINCI CODE or HARRY POTTER.  Essentially, all Penguin did was use her name.  In my opinion this is no different from Hachette’s continuing to publish books under Robert Ludlum’s signature–when he’s been dead since 2001.  
Here’s a look at a recent Amazon bestseller group.  In both Fiction and Nonfiction, are any of the authors familiar?
If this doesn’t illustrate the point regarding the significance of author branding, I don’t know what does.  The path is all too obvious.

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