New Authors Start Here!
So you've finished typing "The End." Now what!?!?
Take a deep breath: no need to have a panic attack.
But you probably just realized now that the book is finished, there is a lot more work to do to get in the hands of readers. Huh?
Well don't worry. We are here to help!!!
Follow along our blog as we help indie authors like yourself succeed!
We are what you would call a one-stop shop for the self-published author. We offer services (or have connections to) everything under the sun when it comes to publishing your book. So you are in good company!
However, the purpose of this post is to help you understand what IS next:
Brief Overview of Publishing Process
You want to make sure you get that book polished off. Use editors, alpha readers, beta readers, ARC readers, proofreaders. Oof. That's a lot of readers. Point is: Get as many eyes on that manuscript as you are able to afford. BUT don't stress. You have to start somewhere, right? Lucky for you: each book you publish will make you an even better writer. Remember: if down the line you want to make some changes to your earlier works, you are free to do so!
To Pitch or Self-Publish
It's a tough decision to make. Do you want the validation of being traditionally published? The stigma of self-publishing is REAL! (But we're on a mission to change that!) Sure self-publishing is readily available these days, but that doesn't mean the products have to be sub-par quality. Back on topic: there are lots of methods of being published, you've probably seen these terms thrown around like crazy: trad published, self-published, indie published, hybrid publishing, boutique publishing, KDP, going wide, KU only, indie author, trad author, wide author, Ingram, expanded distribution, and the list goes on and on! It's enough to make your head spin. There is a lot to take in and this little paragraph won't do much justice. But here are some quick guidelines you should know:
Traditional Publishing: You submit your manuscript to a publisher; they decide whether they want to publish it. If so, they typically will take on cover design and publishing methods and you will get a small cut of all sales.
Self-Publishing: You are in charge of EVERY single aspect of your book publishing: you find editors, cover designers, upload your book to various storefronts, and do all your own marketing. Amazon's KDP platform has made this so simple for you! Plus you get ALL your royalties. Largest potential for earnings per purchase.
Hybrid Publishing: Not easily defined. There are SO many different types of hybrid publishing, but basically someone helps you get your book out there. Some times you're very hands on, other times very hands off: but usually you get higher royalties than trad-pub, but lower royalties than self-pub. Great for writers who don't want to learn all the ins and outs and want to focus on writing!
Going wide: If you are self-publishing, you will hear this term A LOT and it most often comes into play with Amazon's KDP platform. If you choose to self-publish through Amazon you have two options: KDP and KDP Select. KDP Select will give you access to promotions, higher royalties, and the Kindle Unlimited program. However, they have an exclusivity clause saying you cannot make your ebook available anywhere other than Amazon (paperbacks can be sold anywhere.) Regular KDP has lower royalties but no exclusivity to Amazon meaning you are free to publish your ebook anywhere you please AKA "going wide."
OK. You have the manuscript. That's one part of the book covered. Now for the other 70%: cover design. Seventy percent? REALLY you ask? Well, maybe not, but maybe so. Your book cover is your number one advertisement for your book. Trust me. It MATTERS. You know the adage "first impressions are lasting impressions." It matters for books too. Sure we've all been taught "don't judge a book by it's cover" but let's be real here. Your books WILL be judged by their cover, so let's give them a good shot! Make sure your cover design is on point: research your genre's best sellers and select a cover that fits the bill. Unless design is one of your strong suits as well, I highly suggest you get yourself a professional designer. (Budget-friendly professional designs DO exist, I promise.) You know what else you can do though? Look at pre-made covers! It's a great way to get a quality cover for a fraction of the cost: designers will make cover designs readily available with the option of changing the title and author name to fit your book! There are several Facebook groups, websites, etc. offering up pre-made covers for sale. In fact, we have some on our website too!!! (Yes, we love making covers; please hire us.)
Hopefully you already have this and started gaining a following while you were writing. Starting to find your audience early on allows for a lot of success in your author business. Why? If you have an audience in mind, you know how to write your story, and therefore you know how to pitch your story to the people you wrote it for too! However, if you don’t already have a platform of some kind (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Email marketing, etc) it’s not too late to start. And now is the time to get started if you haven't already. Why? Because next up is the launch plan. It’s much easier to launch if you have an existing audience to tell your books are coming. :)
Do you HAVE to have a website? No, but let’s face it: what do people do when they are trying to see how legit someone/something is? They Google your name. They want to see your social media and website. It makes you more legit. It holds a bigger footprint for you on the web. AND it’s far easier to guarantee your website will always be around: social media is hit or miss. There are inexpensive ways to get a website or landing page AND it’s a business expense, helllloooo. Write it off at the end of the year. Bare minimum I would suggest getting a free website or blog even if you can’t fully customize your domain. But get those author social media accounts started and bring that audience in!
How are you going to launch your story into the world? Organically? With lots of ads? Online-party style? In-person party style? Kickstarter? Quietly? Book tours? You name it: there’s a way to do it! Who would have thought there were SOOO many ways to go about it. Our best piece of advice? Do what makes you feel comfortable and if you are going to put money into it: determine an amount you are willing to part with forever. While it is possible to recoup all upfront costs, it's unlikely; a first book tends to be a little slow to make you money unless you already have a big audience! Also think about how quickly your next book will be out. The tighter the release schedule, the easier it will be to put money in at the beginning.
Woo-hoo! Your book gets to go live!! Depending on how you decided to publish, this may look a little different. Nonetheless it is a very exciting day that your readers get to start reading!! You’ve done all the hard work, now take the day off and celebrate (and take a nap!) Think about your personality style beforehand though. Don’t stress yourself out by updating your sales dashboard every 3.5 seconds to see if you made another sale. Let the book breathe a little and let loose! If you get stressed by such things easily, maybe enlist the help of another to monitor sales and keep an eye out for high rankings!
Ooof that's a big word. Marketing. What does that even mean? Especially for an author? Well, it's the 21st century. It means something different nearly every day. Lucky for you there are endless ways to market your book. You can use paid advertisements, reviews, organic engagement, press releases, podcast interviews, TV interviews, newspaper ads, mailers, book signing events *GASP FOR AIR*, you name it. Almost anything you brainstorm could probably be a way to market your book, maybe not the most effective way, but hey, it could work. Just starting out however, you'll want to be mindful of your author goals, writing plan, and budget.
First books generally don't sell well for a first-time self-published author because the competition is FIERCE and people have to find out about you first. If you spend money on advertising in the beginning your chances of making it all back are slim, so find a number you are comfortable with losing. But don't go getting sweaty palms just yet: we are here to guide you along the way! In future posts we will deep dive into the best ways to market your books, but here’s a brief overview of tools you will likely consider using:
Publishing on Amazon? Definitely advertise with them too. It can be inexpensive and it is super simple to get started with!
Meta ads (Facebook & Instagram)
Let’s get those scrollers on over to purchase your books (or sign up for your newsletter!) Utilize strong graphics to invoke the emotion you want and target the demographic you expect your readership to be
Pinterest is the KING of long-term payoff. They offer ads, but even maintaining regular Pinterest boards can lead to sales months and even years after posting things to the site. So, it doesn’t hurt to put some boards together on an afternoon and let them sit. That’s better than nothing!
Frequent social media use (Instagram/FB/TikTok/Twitter)
Let’s face it. More than 70% of Americans use social media in some way, shape, or form. At least 60% visit an app once a day. Use that to your advantage. But don’t get salesly. CONNECT with your readers. Become relatable: share things you like to do, let them in on the behind-the-scenes of your writing process, let them name a character. Involve your audience and they will be all that more invested in you and your books. They will appreciate them even more which will in turn lead to more read-through. :) The best sales pitches are the ones that viewers don’t know their being sold to.
If you really like to get into videos you could get into vlogging. YouTube is a great platform for long-form videos. (They also releases YouTube Shorts now, which mimic TikTok. So yet another video platform you can find an audience with!) (Side note: get comfortable with video: it’s not going anywhere any time soon. Short-form video is the way of the future. So embrace it and you will see your sales improve!)
Why is this in all caps? Because it is literally the most important thing you can have as an author. Even if you do NOTHING else: have a mailing list! Always always always put a link to sign up for your newsletter in the back of your books so you can collect contact information for your readers. If they loved your book, they’ll sign up so they can know when you release more. Keep in mind when you sell books through platforms like Amazon, you will NEVER get access to customer information. Your only shot at tracking them down later is to get subscribers. Your mailing list is the only thing that you can really 100% own and use to reach your readership, so don’t take that lightly. Even if you aren’t SENDING newsletters yet, start collecting subscribers now so that when you are ready they are there for you. It’s totally possible to do this for FREEEEE! These mailing lists also come in handy for ad targeting. *hint hint*
For the rest of your career:
Keep on Writing
Ahh, the cycle starts again. You know the fool-proof way of making more sales? Selling more books. Really, releasing multiple books is the best marketing strategy you can employ. Why? Read-through. Once you have a book out, and you have a reader who falls in love with it, you have a guaranteed clientele. Write another book and those who liked your first books will keep on reading, meaning higher ROI! We want read-through, that is the easiest way to make back money spent on promoting your books. So what are you waiting for? Get pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and start releasing that next story idea of yours! Besides, once you have at least three books under your belt (five is safer) you will have a better platform for paid advertising on your books.
Watch and Learn
Remember you are just starting: you’re going to have failures and that is A-OKAY! Do not get discouraged, learn from your mistakes and make some more magic! Also, keep in mind that the book world changes SO SO much. The marketing world changes daily! Something that worked for you last week could potentially never work for you again. So be ready to take the punches, course correct, and keep on innovating.
Keep notes the best you can so when you find what IS working for you, you have a method and can quantify that. Then keep optimizing that system. Once it’s no longer working for you, keep testing what is. Just remember: Take notes and keep onto reports. You never know when they will be helpful data points again. Did I say take notes? Trust me….you’ll wonder why something is working, or what change you made from last week to this week. Our minds forget these things: Take notes and learn from what you are doing well and what you need to improve on!
Hire the professionals
Now it’s really nice when you can do ALL the things and be successful right? Or sometimes the money just isn’t there to hire out services. But when it does make sense, seek out the professionals: it will pay off! Sure it can be difficult to pass on a task that you are fully capable of doing at the expense of more profits, but think about how much time YOU save in the process. Does it allow you to publish more content? Feel less stressed? Spend more time with family or friends? If so, it sure sounds like a win to me! Need a cover? Get it professionally done. Get an editor. Don’t skimp on the important details. There are various skill levels and price points: find someone who fits the bill for you.
You can get quality work at low prices, you can also get poor quality work from people at high price points (but generally speaking those high-priced designers know what they are doing and you can’t go wrong!) Just need a consultation or a coaching session here or there? DO IT! They can be so helpful in highlighting areas you can improve and to give you the encouragement you need. Just remember it’s not all cut and dry. Sometimes losing out on profits has big gains in other areas of your life, business, or sanity. Be sure to factor in EVERYTHING when you are deciding whether to hire out a service.
Don’t forget we are HERE for you when you are ready. We offer done-for-you ad management for authors with five or more published books. But don’t worry, that’s the only service we have a minimum requirement for. We are quite literally the one-stop-shop to get you on your way to being a published author. Need graphics? You got it! Want a social media manager? We LOVE that gig! We do consults for ANY stage of writer. Ready to design that book cover? So are we! Wanting a book trailer? You betcha. Need some proofreaders/editors/audiobook artists? We’ll send them your way. We are here to educate and to do. Say the word and we will be right there.
Oh good, you made it through all that info. Of course you did, you’re a writer! Thanks for reading, now before you get back to writing; go give us a follow and join in the conversation on our latest post!
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(Don't worry, most of our posts won't be this long.)