Some time ago I’ve written an article on 10 incredibly harmful pre-publishing myths that most newbie writers still believe. Today, I want to continue helping newbie writers by sharing 13 things that they need to think of before publishing their first book – and officially starting their author careers. This article is written in the form of open ended questions, as its aim is getting you into solving-problems mode.
Ready? Let’s go!
#1 Plan Ahead: Who are you as an author and who are your readers?
Why this matters: Cause who you are as a private person is not the type of information you want to paste anywhere online. Also, an author bio that fits your genre is more likely to get your readers’ attention. Now – who are your readers going to be? Where are you going to find them? How are you going to communicate with them? And convince them to read your book?
#2 Plan Ahead: Are you going to self-publish or publish traditionally? What challenges do these routes bring?
Why this matters: These two routes are slightly different, which doesn’t mean that any of them is easier than the other one. Keep in mind that in order to succeed you will have to work hard regardless of the route that you have taken. If you are self publishing, how are you going to do this? Where are you going to find the staff you need: cover artist, editor, e-book formatter and printing facility? If you are publishing traditionally, do you know already where to send your manuscript? Do you know the success rate of other writers? Maybe it would be a good idea to get an agent? If you are rejected by everyone, what will you do? Do you have a plan B?
#3 Plan Ahead: How are you going to build your social media following?
Why this matters: If you don’t know about the hundredth monkey effect, read about it now. Your book can’t become popular… without being popular (!). What does it mean? Nobody is going to like your Facebook page or follow your Twitter if you aren’t popular. How are you going to get the first fans on your social media? You realize that the more fans you have, the greater your organic reach – and the greater the chances that your book will sell. Now it’s the time to think about how to build a massive social media following. Not once you publish!
#4 Plan Ahead: What are you going to do to appear in more Google Search results?
Why this matters: Your future readers are going to google you. What they’re going to find is up to you. An author who has more results in Google Search is automatically seen as more popular. On which websites are you going to register so as to appear in Google Search more often?
#5 Plan Ahead: Where are you going to post video, photos, artworks and presentations that will promote you and your book?
Why this matters: posting varied content on social media is important, however, social media isn’t everything. You must be active in as many places as you can so as to increase your organic reach. Lots of authors say to post ads on forums or Facebook groups, however people present there don’t want to be spammed and may react negatively to you being overactive with your marketing. What websites you know which will allow you to share your promotional content without appearing as spammy?
#6 Plan Ahead: Where are you going to post writings that will promote you and your book?
Why this matters: Like I explained above, social media isn’t everything and you don’t want to appear as a spammer. Think well: in which places can you post your writings and actually receive feedback from readers? This is important because people who have once read your works and liked it might become your first fans and choose to purchase your book later.
#7 Plan Ahead: How are you going to build your e-mail list?
Why this matters: I assume that each of us has an e-mail list of around 200 contacts. However, not everyone on this list is a target reader willing to buy and review our book. Most probably won’t (why, I explained here and here). If you are going to make your book popular among strangers, you will need an e-mail list consisting of your target readers. Building it requires not only a strategy, but also a time. Start as soon as you can.
#8 Plan Ahead: How are you going to obtain reviews as an unknown author?
Why this matters: If you are publishing traditionally, your publisher should contact bloggers in your name and organize some reviews. That number isn’t going to be as high as you expect (I got only 3 reviews), so you must think how to get more reviews. If you are self-publishing, there’s even more pressure on you to resolve this problem. I have already shared in the members advice section that contacting book bloggers doesn’t work, as the response rate is really low. Are you going to buy reviews? If yes, where? If the reviews are negative, what will do you? Think now, so you don’t fall into the crisis later.
#9 Plan Ahead: How are you going to organize a virtual book tour?
Why this matters: Book tours increase the discoverability of your book and raise your Google Search rankings. It is important that you have your own blog where you promote your book, but the more blogs you can appear on with your book, the better.
#10 Plan Ahead: How are you going to promote your book right after its launch?
Why this matters: If you are self publishing, e.g. on Amazon, you will want to know everything about their ads. If you are publishing traditionally, you’ll need to learn about other types of ads (social media or Google). Ads are just one way to promote yourself: you need to prepare materials that attract your readers. What are those materials going to be?
#11 Plan Ahead: Where you are going to find money for investing into your books and author brand?
Why this matters: self-publishing costs, and traditional publishing doesn’t free your from the need to market your books. Ads cost, promos cost, materials cost. Start saving or get a freelancing job to cover your extra expenses.
#12 Plan Ahead: What will your new book be about and how can you promote it while publishing and marketing your first book?
Why this matters: publishing your first book is a great way to advertise your soon-to-be-published second book. Also, showing the readers that you have two books (preferably in the same genre) might make them consider following you on social media or joining your mailing list so as to be informed about the newest releases.
#13 Plan Ahead: What is your long-term marketing strategy for building a strong online presence for your books and your author brand?
Why this matters: you are not just publishing one book – you are embarking on a new career. If you want your author brand to grow and attract more and more readers, you need to put in time, money and effort. How are you going to build yourself as an author online? Think about it.
I know that planning these things ahead is difficult, but trust me that it’s better you start thinking about it now rather than after you’ve published.
I was 21 years old when I published my first book and I had no idea how to promote myself, how to reach the target readers, how to grow an e-mail list etc. I knew that a 16 year old student from my high school had a popular YouTube channel (around 1000 subscribers), so I asked him for advice on how to build a presence online. He told me that I needed to create my author persona, get more people to like my page, invest in ads.
That was just the beginning. It took me 4 years to figure out my answers to the questions I’ve asked you in this post. I decided to share my secret knowledge with you and I prepared a cheat sheet containing 50 steps to a successful debut. This cheat sheet will be available for premium members here on Always Inspired Writing, however, you can get it for free by joining my mailing list. Sign up here!
I hope this article was useful to you!