I started out with a small publisher who simply extended her service under CreateSpace, though she is an excellent cover artist and formatter. I crashed and burned when I tried to get my books to book stores and though CreatSpace's distributors could get your books directly into brick and mortar stores, I learned the hard way that my books were NOT set up that way.
I had to bring my own box in and sell it differently than other authors at book signings. I have been taken advantage by these stores (not all, most have integrity). What's sad, is that this is a race of one as an author.
I understand that we are networked and support one another, but realistically, we are so busy surviving life with a regular job that writing is a side thing though it does NOT feel that way. How can we make more time for flailing writers who need our expertise? Oh, yes, there are many writers out there who are willing to mentor and share secrets, but those are very rare to find!
Needless to say, I lost all confidence in my career when my old publisher decided to restructure her company and everyone became Indie: we would utilize one another's expertise and help get our individual books published that way.
Though Darkspell was my first published, it was not my first written. I have been writing for over twenty years and decided to push that one the hardest. I became lost and eventually orphaned from my publisher, but I kept writing and writing.
As Emily Mah had mentioned, Cinderella stories are far and few and success is dependent upon the view of the beholder. For some, success is simply getting that book published. After all, that is a significant goal accomplished!
What valuable lessons have you learned as a writer? (Every step is important, even if you're not published!)