For many, it's just the idea of making that first step and actually getting published. That was part of the goal for me, I suppose, but it is more of a way to help realize my eventual dream of being able to write for a living, which is only really possible for a select few. Stacked odds, I suppose, but it beats the shit out of working retail for living (which I have done in the past, and it is the pits). Publishing my first book, Coercion, has been a real trial by fire and I've learned plenty of lessons that I will certainly apply when it comes to my second novel Avarice and future projects.
1. Have artwork ready in advance. This is what kept my book from being published sooner than it was. I'd hoped for an April 30 release, but delays and excuses from my original artist kept me shackled so I had to look elsewhere. Then again, part of this is also due to the fact that I wrote the book in summer and fall of 2010 and had been hoping a literary agent would take me in. 20 rejections later and after reading about the advent of e-publishing as a viable (though challenging) tool, I decided to give it a shot. I hope to have an artist ready to roll soon and have the project done around the same time I'm done with my book, which should be around September 1. That's the hope. It will also be a different artist this time, mainly because my artist for Coercion lacks experience with color and I want some color this time because it goes well with the preliminary image I have in mind.
2. Cast the net wide from the start. I initially published through just Smashwords, figuring it would be out to all the major ebook publishers within a few weeks. How naive. This time I'm likely going to use a few different publishers all at the same time and go for a more simultaneous release. That means not just smashwords but others, too. Try and hit the ground with a little momentum on my side (I hope).
3. Be ready for more disappointment. This seems a bit cruel, but it's the only way to function. The idea that I'm going to hit the jackpot overnight is ludicrous. Just gotta keep doing what I've been doing. Networking, promoting, and doing whatever it is I can to get the word out there. Means more disappointment, but maybe it'll eventually turn into something great.
All I can do is hope.