Whether you have a book ready to publish, have one nearing completion, or if you’re thinking about writing, there will come a time when you get to release it to the world. It’s exciting and you deserve to be proud of your accomplishment. But when you are ready to go, be kind to yourself and remember two simple words. Make friends.
No one expects to become an overnight success. Sure, we would love to see enough in royalties to pay the bill, but we must be realists. We understand that building this dream into a reality takes time and support.
Some humble writers just want to see their books reach a few readers and are happy to tick this huge accomplishment off of their bucket list. But when you finish your MS and the editing and amendments have been done, there’s a strong chance you’ll be just like me and want to share it with the world as quickly as possible.
Don’t rush release
I completed my book, polished it to what it is now, and had a cover designed that suited the narrative and genre. And believe me, releasing a book on Amazon was an amazing feeling.
To see it on a kindle at first, and then in the flesh was one of the highlights of my thirty-eight years. In fact, I was so fired up by it that I pressed “Publish,” and then watched the reports like a hawk.
After my family and a group of close friends bought their copies, and then a few indie supporting readers picked up a couple of copies, things slowed to a sporadic sale every few days. Then, nothing. I was so excited to get the book out there that I failed to draw up a plan of what to do next.
To see empty sale sheets wasn’t so much a surprise as it was a disappointment. I rushed the release just to have it released. What I should’ve done was: control myself, take a deep breath and prepare. Well, to be more accurate, I should’ve done some research and then prepared.
Selling a book as an indie/self-published author requires a strategy if you want to succeed. Your target audience is a bigger pool than your F&F group.
The marketing world is a fascinating ecosystem that you get to create. Everything feeds off of everything else.
For example, if you use social media, you need to be following and engaging with a target audience that are active in your genre. In doing so, your profile becomes recognisable and your name will be associated with people and groups who read your type of story.
Talk, listen, ask and answer questions–become an active and friendly member of that community. If people welcome you as a part of their group, they’re more likely to read and review your book. And if it’s a good one, they may recommend it to others.
My error at this point was only having a following of 36 people on Twitter. I didn’t have Instagram, and I rarely used my quiet Facebook account. When I released my book and tweeted about it, I got one like and then the tweet vanished into the treads. Don’t make this mistake.
Build and engage
Build a following on social media is worth your time. And when you post a link to your new book, there’ll be like-minded friends who will like, share and hopefully buy your book.
It’s also a great way to meet ARC (Advance Reader Copy) reviewers. These are people who love books probably more than writers love writing them. They give up their free time to give honest feedback to authors in the form of reviews–the very thing that makes our world go around. And this is where you’ll see the eco-system come to life.
When you have an active social media account, people in your community will recognise you. You become someone who others will be happy to help because they know you . But if you have a small or ineffective presence on social media, then “cold-calling” a book reviewer will probably lead to silence.
Plan and prepare
Months before you release your book, you should be building online relationships with book reviewers and readers. Read their work, talk to them about it. Like, share and recommend their content/sites/blogs to your followers. This shows them that you value the time and effort they put in.
And here’s the best part–when you read their work and you engage with them, you’ll find friends in the community that you genuinely look forward to hearing from. But if you’re quiet, reserved or selfish (only tweeting self-serving posts), then you hurt you chances. When you approach people for a review, you will come across as someone who is using them for your own gain.
There’s a fine line between spamming the feed with the link to your book and keeping your link prominent in the public domain. But if you have good connections with other writers, readers and bloggers, and you share their content, they will do the same for you.
I hope you prepare for marketing better than I did. But above all, I hope you enjoy the experience.
Keep working on your book.
We are writers.