*Originally seen on Fine Lines*
Let me begin by saying, congratulations. Congratulations on making it as far as you have in your writing process, whether it’s typing that first sentence, or finishing that last chapter. I understand the journey has been an interesting one, to say the least. Drafts, edits, plot twists, writing sessions that went so long into the night that the words started to blur and your coffee cups started piling up. Writing, if you can believe it, will be the easy part. Getting your work out there to the world will ultimately become the real challenge.
So how do you share your final product, the end result of those endless hours of clicking away at your keyboard? Where do you begin? In a rapidly changing publishing world, the rules have completely changed, leaving authors scrambling to catch up.
I advise you to start by remembering these five important words: your book is your business. Make this your mantra, and when you’re ready to take on your next chapter, take note of these 8 important steps.
1- Mind over matter.
The first step to selling your book is simply to change your mindset from author to entrepreneur. From the time you decide to sit down and start writing, to the time you print the finished product, having this mindset will help you execute key marketing tactics.
With this newfound perspective, you’ll be able to develop your marketing plan—a complete outline of the business behind your book—What is your book about? Who is your reader and why should they be interested? How will you reach them?
2- Who are your people?
Who is reading your book? Identifying your target market will help to ensure that you don’t waste time promoting to an audience who wouldn’t be interested. Have a variety of people read your book—young, old, male, female. Also, try to reach out to people outside of the family, who won’t give you a biased opinion.
3- How do you plan on promoting your book to the public?
So you’ve identified your tribe, but how do you reach them? A great place to start is social media, but determining which platform to use is entirely up to you. I strongly urge you to not attempt to use all of them, as this will just be tiring and counterproductive. Instead, find one that you feel is easiest to use, which also has a strong audience of readers and writers such as Twitter. Once you’ve discovered a home to connect with your audience, decide on your message.
4- What do you want from your tribe?
Aside from sales, what are you looking to gain from your audience? Friendship? Feedback? A networking community? By deciding on your message, you will be able to discover a specific tone that is your own. Are you the funny tweeter, the photo sharing Facebooker, or the story telling blogger? Creating and sticking to a particular tone and scheduling posts accordingly will be your first steps to developing your online personality. From there you can build relationships and start connecting. Whether you favorite tweets, like posts, or comment on LinkedIn articles, begin engaging with other users. Doing so, in an organic way, will build connections and will hopefully solidify new readers.
5- So you have the home and the tribe, now what?
Keep your network in the loop. These people are your new friends, and just like your real life friends, they want to be kept up to date with what you’re working on. The more connected you become, the more likely they are to help you celebrate your successes and promote your achievements, be it by purchasing your book or by recommending it to a friend. Hey, that’s what friends are for.
6- Book people tend to love other book people.
Once you’ve connected with a tribe, continue to branch out. Find bloggers who host book tours for authors, or simply write about topics relating to your book. Create a standard template to send out. You could request a book review, offer to participate in a giveaway, or do a blog swap. Bloggers can become your new best friends and reaching out will help to increase exposure to your book.
7- Get your wallet ready…publishing is expensive.
When done right, publishing is not for those with empty pockets. I urge, beg, plead with you, if you take one piece of advice from this entire article, let it be this. Do not skimp out on an editor or cover designer. You can have the best book in the world, but if your cover looks like it was created on Paint (you know, from Microsoft Windows), nobody will pick it up and chances are the people who are picking it up aren’t the ones you want reading it. On the same note, a poorly edited book just screams that you rushed to publish. It’s unprofessional, cheapens your brand, and will make it that much harder to be taken seriously. There are plenty of great ways to build buzz and raise funds for your book, so please take the time to research them before hitting upload on CreateSpace.
8- If J.K. Rowling couldn’t do it, neither will you.
This final lesson is a blunt one so listen up. Your book will not be an instant success and if it is, credit my helpful guide so I can retire early.
For everyone else, know this- there will be a point where your frustration starts to kick in. At this point, you may begin to go through various stages of author rage: Such as comparing your book to successfully published books or going into a false sense of acceptance, like, “Maybe this is a sign. If my book were meant to make it big, it would have already.” Or, my personal favorite, the desperate plea stage, which usually involves an abundance of posts all begging people to buy or review your book.
You’re better than this author.
Harry Potter went through 12 rejections before winning the Quidditch Cup equivalent of a publishing deal. You know your book is great, your tribe knows your book is great, so remember the three P’s. Persistence and patience will help you persevere. If you give up on your book, you’re telling the world your book isn’t very good and we both know you’ve worked too hard to admit defeat anytime soon.
I look forward to reading your upcoming book. As always, I’m happy to help with any of your marketing needs and am always eager to answer any questions you may have.