There was an article in the NYTimes last week about a young man, Max Brallier, whose online book has attracted more than six million readers. It's on a site called Funbrain, and is basically a comic book called "Galactic Hot Dogs." So Aladdin, a division of the Simon and Schuster publisher, has paid him a seven-figure (that's $1,000,000 +) advance for the rights to publish the book (and two sequels) in traditional paper-and-ink format. Aladdin is printing 500,000 copies, and is promoting the book through a million-dollar print and online marketing campaign.
All this is certainly good news for Max Brallier, and fellow authors should applaud his success. What I found interesting came at the end of the article, where it describes his previous work experience. To quote:
"He took a job in publishing shortly after college, at Penguin, and then at St. Martin's Press, where he worked in marketing. That experience has made him keenly aware of how unusual it is to have millions invested in promoting his book. 'So many books get almost zero done for them these days,' he said."
There it is straight from the mouth of someone who has worked in publishing houses. Your chances of getting your book promoted are almost zilch--unless you've already lined up six million potential readers.
That's not true, of course, at a new paradigm publisher like Booktrope (at least in theory). Every book has its own book manager, editor, proofreader, and cover designer--all of whom share in the book's profits. As you know, that's where I am now, and fingers crossed!