The hard part’s over!
Seriously, go pop some champagne, I’ll wait.
Did you do it? Did you pop the bubbly and celebrate?
Good, now go sit your butt back down and get some real work done because I totally just lied to you.
Yes, you’re allowed to take a few minutes and celebrate, but your hard work—it starts now.
I truly believe that the best part about this business is that feeling you get when the stars align, the words make sense, you create a world and/or characters that speak to you and those around you, and it forms into this perfect little book that you have this amazing ability to launch into the world.
It. Is. The. Best.
What’s not the best?
Trying to get people to buy your blood, sweat and tears.
And I’m pretty sure the only phrase people use when talking about the book industry in this day and age is—market saturation.
What does this scary phrase mean?
It means that if the book world was an ocean and your book was a life raft, nobody needs saving.
Because there are a lot of rafts. In fact, most people just want to float for a bit, you know? Catch some rays, hang out.
There’s a raft if you want a happily ever after. A raft if you can’t choose between the firefighter or the vampire, there’s even this super special raft that shifts from a raft into a car, then back into a raft again then somehow manages to find it’s one special raft partner—and mate for life.
There’s rafts for cooking. Rafts for sewing. Rafts with alternate endings, rafts that look like rafts but are actually copies of other rafts just done in different stitching.
Okay so you get the point. We live in an amazing technologically advanced “raft” filled world. So what happens when you build your own raft and nobody wants to float on it? Heck how do you even get the attention of people when their over by Jon Snow‘s raft talking up fan fiction?
Well, it’s probably a poor life choice to just wave your hands in the air and scream I’M FOR SALE! Because well there are lots of rafts for sale, what makes yours different?
Ahah, we get to the point. As a new author, what makes your voice different from others? The story you want to tell? The packaging?
Writing a book is so much more than the words.
It’s the packaging.
Is the cover professional?
Is it edited?
Has it gone through enough beta reading stages?
Is it the best possible product you could possibly have?
If the answer is yes, then you’re on to the, now what do I do stage?
There are so many things to think about, but the first one I want to touch on is what not to do. Because as any seasoned author will tell you, we’ve all done it the wrong way, which is how we learned how to do it the right way.
Whether you’re indie or traditional or both—here are a few things NOT to do:
1.Don’t mass PM random buy links.
You’d think this would be a given but I can’ tell you how many times I get messages from people I don’t know or even emails that include nothing but I released a book it would help if you shared it! This goes for bloggers, PR firms, Facebook groups. Spam is spam, and you will easily make the wrong kind of name for yourself if you expect everyone to do your work for you. Plus, it’s rude to just spam peoples pages. The definition of networking is not using your network to send out a giant spam email and hope for the best. Networking involves making long term relationships with people around you in hopes that you both have a mutual and beneficial friendship. This also means that it’s going to take time, but this is a career, a marathon, not a sprint. Invest that time in others and they’ll invest it right back in you.
2. Don’t respond to bad reviews.
An example would be popping on Goodreads and starting a witch hunt, or telling your own readers in your group to attack every single person who dared have a negative opinion about your masterpiece. This will do nothing for you or your career, I know that words can sometimes be hurtful but the worst thing you can possibly do is engage when you get a bad review, it just makes you look petty and spiteful and trust me, when you attack one, the rest come out of the woodwork. Just know it’s going to happen, if you can’t handle it, then don’t look. Or use it as a way to better yourself as an author and human being.
3. Don’t message an author ask how their day was, tell them you’re a huge fan, and then say, hey by the way I released a book, can I boost it on your page?
This is what I call lazy networking. You approach someone you admire, and they are flattered and excited and then suddenly you go but also I want something from you. There is a total way to do this, I think most people would agree that building a relationship with someone before asking for that, or even waiting until that author offers, is a better choice. Authors want to help other authors but going at it in the wrong way leaves a bad taste and almost feels like you’re being used—and it most definitely doesn’t feel genuine.
4. Don’t play the blame game.
My cover artist didn’t do good enough, my editor didn’t catch that I spelled nightmare wrong, there were too many releases this week, my dog was sick and I uploaded the wrong manuscript—own up to the fact that nothing will ever be perfect and keep trying. Take responsibility for your product and for your business and know that there will be bumps in the road, but its all in how you respond to the bumps that decides if you stay on the road or end up in the ditch.
5. Don’t Rush it.
Don’t upload a book first, and then go, oh wait, now what? What’s my marketing plan? And then scramble at the last minute. Have a plan. Decide how far ahead you’re going to start marketing.
6. Don’t try to do everything on your own.
There are amazing paid professionals in this industry that would be PYSCHED to work on your manuscript or formatting, or graphics. If you aren’t talented in the graphics department do NOT buy your own stock photo and try to make a cool teaser, you’ll just end up frustrated. Everyone as different price points, I promise you’ll find someone that works for you.
7. Don’t copy.
I know this again, seems like it would be a given, but it’s shocking how many copy cats are out there. Be original, find your voice, your content. If you copy you will be found out. Plagiarism is one thing, but in my book if you copy an entire story from one author and make it your own, that ISN’T cool, there’s a name for that, it’s fan fiction either label it right or come up with your own awesomeness.
8. Don’t buy fake reviews.
Another given, and yet people still do it. Be honest and upfront about who you are about and start off on the right foot. Yes it’s possible to do this, but come on, man. Have a little pride in what you do and TRUST yourself that you’re good enough without having to pay someone to tell you, that you are.
9. Don’t freak out.
I tell myself this every time and it’s true every time. You will have momentary freak outs—and they will make you doubt everything about you, your book, the industry, your place in the world. Just know that it’s normal and it will eventually pass, and trust the process or, as good ole Audrey Carlan says, “Trust the journey,” (Calender Girl nod).
10. Don’t compare yourself.
It’s bound to happen, we all do it, but it makes absolutely no sense for you as a new author to compare yourself to someone who had a theme park built after their book series, you know? That’s like a new actress with her first movie role having a meltdown in Starbucks because she isn’t getting paid as much as Jennifer Lawrence. It’s also unfair to you as an author. Everyone starts somewhere, even Jennifer Lawrence started somewhere, remember? Indie films, then X men, and now look!
Writing books isn’t this get rich quick, get famous sort of job. It’s something you do because you love it and if you really love it that much, you’ll stay in it for the long haul until another debut author comes along and plays the comparison game with you, by then you can tell them your own story and look back on your journey and know you did it the right way.
Remember, deciding to write a book is terrifying, actually finishing the book and unleashing it in the wild—well its enough to make most of us want to rock in the corner. You want to make sure that you start off on the right foot and hopefully by learning from some of mine and others mistakes you have an incredible start!