Hi everyone! Soooo… I need to backpedal a little bit. In hindsight, this probably should’ve been my first Dear Indie post, but as with all things in my journey, I’m learning everything as I go. I’m here to help, yes – but I am far from being the expert! With that being said, this week’s post is about saving yourself the headache of last-minute deadlines you might not even be aware of (especially, if you’re a brand new author). Things no one takes the time to warn you about, that should be done BEFORE your manuscript, and definitely before that beauty is ready to publish.
A Few Beneficial Things to Do in Advance
Build Your Platform: It’s to your advantage not to wait until after your book is for sale to finally create a website and social media accounts. No one knows who you are, so why would they buy your book? Establishing a relationship with other readers and writers online prior to releasing your pride and joy to the world will help it go a lot further. I keep seeing this statement posted in the Indie circles and it is so very true: Piracy is not thy enemy, Anonymity is. Your biggest threat is to remain invisible, for your books and your “brand” (aka your author name) to remain completely unknown. So, get out there and make some friends, connect with like minded authors in your genre, follow readers who read what you write – and hopefully, what you read – and be genuine, be yourself, just as you would while interacting face-to-face. You are representing your brand, what you are trying to sell, so make sure you’re giving it the best first impression you can.
Goodreads: I wish, a hundred times over, that I had known about Goodreads 5 years ago. Indie’s there is no place on the internet better for you to be, than on Goodreads. Even if you don’t have a book out yet, you can make a reader profile and then switch it over to a Goodreads Author profile later. This is the #1 place for all of your living, breathing resources. Join every group you can that supports Indie Authors and you will never have to look anywhere else for what you need. Beta Readers, R2R’s, people who will critique your Blurb, Book Cover, Book Trailer, etc. nothing is left out – and the best part is that 95% of the feedback is both genuine and like getting an honest survey filled out by potential buyers, so critical to helping your book have a better chance at success out there on the market.
Goodreads is exactly where I found my amazing Beta Readers and my amazing Editor! Yes, they’re all amazing and I never would’ve connected with them if it weren’t for the Goodreads Groups. It is a vast well of resources you can’t find all in one place anywhere else, so don’t wait – most of the groups are there to help you through the writing process, not just support you once your book is published.
Author Newsletter: You see them all of the time, and you probably subscribe to a few. Maybe you only did it because of a Giveaway or to get Free Content (more on this in a moment) and that’s great – because it’s a long, hassle of a process for an author to even get their newsletter created and launched. My advice: start now. You don’t have to offer a Sign Up link to your newsletter yet, but get it created and saved with a free provider asap, or you’re going to be scrambling at the last minute to try to have it ready in time for your book launch. I haven’t shopped around, but I’m sure there are plenty of providers out there. I go through MailChimp, as was recommended by Nick Stephenson (I covered his details in my first post) – and if you followed his link from that post, then you’re already aware that having an email list of people who actually want to read your books and are interested in what you have to say is going to be your absolute best resource for book sales in the future.
If you’re not computer savvy, setting up your newsletter could take you awhile. I always thought I was very computer savvy and MailChimp made me feel like a novice. Not sure if it will be the same on other sites, but this is why I’m recommending you start sooner, rather than later. Maybe if you know someone more familiar with creating and managing linked forms, you can have them give you a hand.
Marketing/Promotions: Just save yourself the last minute rush and type up your Author Bio and Book Blurb right now. If your book is already edited – go on and select a couple of areas you’d choose for an excerpt and start thinking about which little flashes of dialogue you want on a Teaser or two. Why? Because you have to book your Tours, Cover Reveals and Release Day Blitz’s a lot sooner than you think. Weeks-to-months in advance. 3-4 weeks out minimum, if you’re lucky enough to find a promotional service offering that (Saints and Sinners does). Most services want 2-3 months warning. They’re already so booked up, they can’t fit you in any sooner.
It’s hard thinking like a marketer when you’re in creative writing mode, but trust me, booking tours now is better than not being able to book one at all or when you want to. Best case scenario: you have to push your release date back a few weeks or a month. Worst case, you launch your book without any promotion and you miss out on all of the “YAY!”, and virtual confetti flying around, that glorious echo of cyber-champagne bottles popping in favor of your brilliant work of literature! – Most importantly, you miss out on the exposure and those initial book sales. If you do your research, you’ll see that most books sell the most at their launch and that’s all due to how they’re promoted.
Scroll down for a short list of Promoters I know of or have worked with. – Hint: Promoters always promote themselves, so if you’re checking out someone’s blog tour and you like the style of the layout, the banners, etc. just scroll to the bottom of the post and the company’s name should be listed there, if not all over the banners and teasers.
Note: It’s also important to think about budgeting for a Giveaway to go along with your Release Day Blitz, not only for readers but for the bloggers that sign up to host your tours. Just a little financial heads up.
FREE Content: Everyone likes free stuff, but when it comes to your work this is not (just) a marketing gimmick. It is showing readers what you have to offer. If no one has ever read your writing before, then how can they be sure they’d want to read your book when it comes out? It’s human nature for us to want “proof” of something, before we spend money on it. We do it all of the time, when we’re shopping around for other people’s services, so why would our readers expect anything less from us? You, Indie, are your own business and as much as you’d rather hunker down in your writing cave and never look up from your laptop – you have to start behaving like a business owner.
So, if you don’t have anything collecting virtual dust on your computer you could polish up and offer as Free Content to potential readers, then you might want to start thinking about creating something while you’re still hashing out the final touches on your next novel. A short story, a free chapter of a related book that you haven’t finished yet, deleted content from your upcoming novel. Offer this for free to your readers without any strings attached. It’s an advertisement of your style and skills, not a gimmick – and best of all, it’s Free for you, too. If you already have a book for sale, then let people read the first chapter for free, rather than just the blurb or an excerpt. I’m getting ready to apply this advice to my own published book. Let your work speak for itself and the readers who are truly interested in you, who love your work and can’t wait for more, will be there when your new book is published. They will sign up for your newsletter, because you’ve given them a reason to trust in you as a provider of something they want. You’ve proven to be a business they can depend on. (I know, I just want to curl up in my writing cave, too. I totally understand!)
Okay, here is that list of Book Tour Promoters I promised:
Now, I leave you with one more helpful post I just found this morning, written by Kory M. Shrum, author of Dying For A Living. It’s about Bookbub. I’m ashamed to admit that I had no idea what Bookbub was all about, until I read her post and now I’m thinking it’s probably a very important site to get familiar with as an Indie author.
Until next week, peeps!
♥ Weekly accomplishment: I finally finished the interior formatting for Collar Me Foxy and got all of my author newsletter forms created and linked to my book! What are you celebrating this week?