All right, authors and writers! I want you to go check out Kristine Kathryn Rusch's blog post titled The Stages of an Indie Writer. This applies to all of you: traditionally published, aspiring, self-published. Then come back and tell me which stage you're in. :-)
Seriously: I can't stress this enough right now. Every single author I know who has signed with a publisher has become disenchanted after seeing how things actually go or are actually run. Some of those authors go on and sign with other publishers - usually Indie publishers where they're treated much better - but even then, I still hear frustrations.
Only a couple of my author friends are really happy where they are. The thing is, when we start thinking seriously about getting published - when it occurs to us that this could actually happen to us - we become in love with the dream of being traditionally published. And dang, those publishers make things look so good!
But the truth is, traditional publishers aren't doing very well. Not only that, but the ones who ARE doing well still mess things up ALL the time by: assigning the wrong title to books, not ordering books on time for launches, sending books to the wrong bookstore for said launches, having to push back publication dates multiple times because the cover art wasn't finished on time or the book wasn't sent to the printer (oops! Sorry! they say), putting together covers that are really bad, messing up editing, and NOT MARKETING. That's the biggest complaint from pretty much every author I've met about their publisher.
Publishers promise a lot of things and then don't fulfill those promises. And authors these days, after signing that freakin' fantastic contract, and finally feeling like they're actually "there," come to the bitter realization that publishers are humans, that they make mistakes, and that one of the biggest ones is how much work they'll put into your book to make it go big. If you aren't James Rollins, Patterson, or Stephen King (or any other huge author), you're going to be expected to market yourself. To put your own money into your book to get it out there. And if your book flops, it's on you, you don't get reprinted, and your book is pulled from shelves.
I'm not against traditionally publishing, actually. There are one or two publishers out there who are doing things right. But technically, they aren't even trad. publishers. They're Indie publishers.
Anyway. Regardless of which stage of becoming an Indie Author you're in, please make sure you know full well what you're getting into. Do your research! Read books about publishing.
And realize this: publishers are watching self-published authors. Self-publishing is the slush pile now. Those of you who are sending your manuscripts out into the ethernet might want to consider making some money while waiting for that dream to come true. :-)
Making money... Mmmm... I sure love doing that. :-)