This is our first guest post from author Ani Alexander
Writing the book is the easiest part of the process.
Many authors think that writing a book is very hard and that once you finish your book, the rest is a piece of cake. I thought that way, too, until I wrote my first book. Once the book was ready, I tried to plan what to do next. That’s when so many different large and small required actions came my way. As a result, I felt overwhelmed and confused.
Now, having two books available on Amazon, I have to say that it seems to be just the opposite. Writing the book is the easiest part of the process.
Some writers are fortunate enough to have available finances to invest in their book’s publishing, promotion and marketing. They save time and only do what they enjoy most – writing – leaving the rest to the professionals.
But let’s face the reality. Most self-published authors can’t afford that. As a result, they spend lot of time learning and doing things themselves.
So what should you do once you finish writing your book?
1. Get feedback
Approach readers from your target audience, and ask them to read the book and offer honest feedback. Believe me, you may end up getting remarks of which you had never thought before. What they will tell you about your book will be extremely valuable.
2. Consider modifications based on feedback
I say consider because you may not want to change anything in your book based only on a few people who did not like this or that part. The best would be to try evaluating the feedback objectively and make changes only if the book will benefit from them, or if not making changes will damage book’s value on the long term.
Once you have listened to feedback and changed what needed to be changed, you should self-edit. This is something I hate doing. I would suggest self-editing the book at least few weeks after you finished writing it. You need a fresh eye for that.
…there will always be typos and grammar mistakes which you have not caught.
Believe me, no matter how many times you have gone through the text there will always be typos and grammar mistakes which you have not caught. Ideally you should get professional help; but if you can’t afford it, have at least 4 to 5 different people go through your manuscript. Al least you will minimize the remaining errors that way.
5. Consider a professional edit
Editing can enhance your writing and have very positive impact on the end result. Ask your writer friends for recommendations, and try to get two or three quotes from editors. If you simply can’t afford it, it may be done later, after you make some money from the book.
6. Know your competitors
In case you have not done this before writing (fiction authors may just sit and put their ideas on paper before the inspiration leaves) do some research. See which books in your genre are bestsellers now. What are they about? What do readers like about them? How are they priced? What do their covers look like? And so on.
7. Decide which platform to publish on
Although we all know that Amazon is the obvious market leader, there are still other self- publishing platforms to consider – B&N, iBooks, Kobo, etc. You have to decide whether you would like to concentrate exclusively on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing or embrace all the possibilities. I’ve concentrated all of my efforts on Amazon for now, because their free book promotions have brought me thousands of new readers.
8. Format the book
You will have to format your document based on the requirements of the platform you will be publishing on. There are two ways to do this – either read the requirements, get templates and do it yourself – or pay someone to do it for you.
9. Choose your category
At first I thought – well it’s obvious, my book is a romance. It’s as simple as that. But there’s more to it. There are so many sub-categories. Each sub-category may help you more accurately target the right group of readers. Spend some time investigating those and finding out which category fits your book best.
10. Decide your book’s price
Obviously it would not be wise to price your book at $40, but still there are so many possibilities. You should decide the price taking into consideration the market, competitor books, your target sales volume, etc. Be sure to leave room for promotional discounting, later on.
11. Look for reviewers
Make sure that you have at least several people who would review your book by the day it goes live. Find them, get them interested, send them a free copy of your book and get those reviews before publishing. Use sites like Goodreads, storycartel.com, and theindieview.com to find likely reviewers.
12. Choose a title
For me, choosing the title was very difficult. It has to be catchy, and it has to reflect the book. You might come up with several possible titles. In that case, make a survey of people in your network to get feedback and choose the best option. Facebook, for one, has survey tools to help you do this.
Fortunately or unfortunately, potential readers will judge your book by its cover.
13. Imagine your cover
Fortunately or unfortunately, potential readers will judge your book by its cover. Many make an impulsive decision to buy a book without reading the description or the reviews – simply because the cover caught their interest. So, try to imagine your cover concept. Even if you will not be the one creating it – you still need to provide the designer with a detailed brief.
14. Find a book cover designer
To be honest, I believe that having a high quality cover is crucial. That’s why you should bring in a professional designer. Good designers can be pretty costly, though. Another solution may be to look for pre-made covers and find one which suits your book. Those are around $30-60, but definitely professional-looking, as opposed to what you might do yourself.
15. Write a book description
Writing a compelling book description is a challenge. In just a few words you have to create interest, provide helpful information, and yet leave the buyer curious and wanting more. Study the descriptions for bestselling books in your genre to decide what might work best for you.
16. Publish the book
Once you’ve made your way through all of these steps, you can actually publish the book. Don’t forget to throw yourself a party, to celebrate all that hard work!
17. Write your author bio
Many readers would like to know who is behind the book, so make sure they won’t be disappointed reading your bio. If you need some help getting this part right, don’t be afraid to ask friends or family how they would describe you. It’s a starting point.
18. Propose and write guest posts
Guest posts on good, high-traffic websites and blogs will leverage your audience and help to attract potential readers. [Editor's note: This is a complicated topic, worthy of several guest posts. Learn more before you leap.]
19. Create an author website
Have a digital home, where readers can find you. They can learn details about you, about your book, about your thoughts, etc. This will help you create relationship with your readers. On your website it would also be smart to include a blog, where you’ll offer updated information and encourage readers to return to your site.
20. Include an opt-in form
Ideally you should already have an email list before publishing your book. If you don’t yet, you should create an opt-in form on your website to collect email addresses. You may also want to provide an incentive for readers to subscribe.
If you ask nicely, many of them will help you out.
21. Develop your platform
If you already have an audience (through your blog or presence in social media), then it will be much easier for you to promote your book. If you ask nicely, many of them will help you out. If you don’t have an audience, make sure you work on building one. Concentrate your efforts on 2 to 3 social media channels to build your brand, reputation and network.
22. Find and participate in groups for networking
Make the time to meet new people. Join reading and writing groups, and book clubs online. You might be surprised how many supportive people there are in different writer and reader forums, Facebook groups, Goodreads groups, and more.
23. Add your book to Goodreads
Goodreads is one of the most popular social networks for readers. Here you’ll find people who read constantly. Most of them buy books on a regular basis, too. Make sure your book is visible there.
24. Organize a Goodreads giveaway
I have organized a book giveaway with only one copy! As a result, in 10 days about 760 people enrolled and over 400 people added my book in their to-read shelf. I can’t say that there was a drastic increase in sales, but many people saw my book, which was good for the overall recognition. Plus, it only cost me 8 GBP out of pocket.
Some things which worked for others might not work as well for you. Don’t get discouraged or stuck. Try different ideas, and see what works best for you.
Ani Alexander is a bestselling author from Armenia. She left an 11-year corporate career to pursue her passion for writing. Her latest book Highfall is a contemporary novel based on a true story. Please visit her author website to learn more about this talented writer.
Your turn! What have you tried that worked for promoting your book? Did you find a wonderful editor, cover designer, beta reader — whatever? Share your experiences — good or bad — in Comments, below.