Having a successful book isn’t just down to luck, when you look at most of the best-selling authors you realize that they have all made sacrifices and worked incredibly hard to get where they are today. So simply knocking out a book in a week and just uploading your manuscript to KDP isn’t much of a plan if you want your book to be successful and of value.
But then you have to ask yourself the very real question, why are YOU publishing your book?
Most authors work at their craft because they love writing, they have a need to communicate and tell something of value, it’s a passion which makes them stress over chapters, paragraphs, sentences and even individual words. All to tell a story, pass on information, help educate and speak to those who will listen, it can be beautiful, powerful and change lives.
But again, why are YOU publishing your book?
For some authors it is purely for the recognition and status of being ‘published’, for others it’s an income stream to which they’ll churn out quickly penned books month after month.
Now of course everyone wants to make a living from writing, and obviously you want others to read your book, so publishing is the fundamental path to doing so and being paid in return makes absolute sense.
But, there has to be something more, do you want to be remembered as someone who brought uninspiring books to the world? Or as someone who clearly loved their craft and created great works which were loved by their readers?
I know the question sounds like a bit of a ‘no-brainer’ but, if you are purely chasing a quick dollar you’re in the wrong game (and your readers will see this immediately).
Writing from a place of passion has to be the very foundation of your approach as an author, it will give you the motivation to continue when others give up, it will keep you focused when going through the editing and review stage it will also give determination when publishing.
It’s very simple, if you don’t believe in and love what you’re doing, it will be so much harder to make it a success.
So, one last time….. Why are YOU publishing your book?
If you’re getting a book ready for publication you will have definitely heard the term ‘Trim Size’, this comes from the process of printing and actually creating the book itself, your book being printed on large sheets of paper which are folded, bound and then trimmed to the appropriate size.
And this leads on to a very good (and often asked) question, what should the trim size of my book be?
Well, it depends, there are some rules as to what the industry expects certain genres and topics to be printed as, but in these days of self-publishing those rules aren’t followed as much as they once were.
Mass Market Books – 4” x 7”
These are books which were originally produced quite cheaply and sold in places like airports (their small size making them great for travel, you also see them in supermarkets too), the size is most commonly used for fiction. In self-publishing you’ll find that companies such as Ingram Spark print at this trim size but Amazon’s KDP do not print this small.
Trade Paperback – commonly 5”x8” to 6”x9”
The name Trade Paperback is a term used to indicate a book which is larger in size than that of the Mass Market book. Trade Paperbacks tend to be the most ‘common’ size and work well for both fiction and non-fiction. The main differential between fiction and non-fiction Trade Paperbacks being the paper color within the book itself, again, there is no set-in-stone rule, but you tend to find that most fiction is on cream paper and non-fiction upon white.
Workbooks & Manuals – 8.5”x11”
These are larger printed books and work well as they are the size of a standard letter sheet of paper, they give room for two columns of text with plenty of space for images and illustrations, they’re more likely to be printed in color and use white paper within (normally with a glossy finish).
Hardcovers – ranging from 5”x8” to 8.5”x11”
The smaller sizes tend to be more for fiction with the larger working better for non-fiction, workbooks and manuals, this goes for both Dust Jackets and Case Laminates.
Sizes currently on offer through KDP are:
5" x 8" (12.7 x 20.32 cm)
5.06" x 7.81" (12.85 x 19.84 cm)
5.5" x 8.5" (13.97 x 21.59 cm)
6" x 9" (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
6.14" x 9.21" (15.6 x 23.39 cm)
6.69" x 9.61" (16.99 x 24.41 cm)
7" x 10" x (17.78 x 25.4 cm)
7.44" x 9.69" (18.9 x 24.61 cm)
7.5" x 9.25" (19.05 x 23.5 cm)
8" x 10" (20.32 x 25.4 cm)
8.25" x 6" (20.96 x 15.24 cm)
8.25" x 8.25" (20.96 x 20.96 cm)
8.5" x 8.5" (21.59 x 21.59 cm)
8.5" x 11" (21.59 x 27.94 cm)
8.27" x 11.69" (21 x 29.7 cm)
For Ingram Spark the trim sizes on offer are:
For Paperback Books:
4 x 6" (154 x 102mm)
4 x 7" (178 x 102mm)
4.25 x 7” (178 x 108mm)
4.37 x 7" (178 x 111mm) A
4.72 x 7.48" (190 x 120mm)
5 x 7" (178 x 127mm)
5 x 8" (203 x 127mm)
5.06 x 7.81" (198 x 129mm)
5.25 x 8" (203 x 133mm)
5.5 x 8.25" (210 x 140mm)
5.5 x 8.5" (216 x 140mm)
5.83 x 8.27" (210 x 148mm) A5
6 x 9" (229 x 152mm)
6.14 x 9.21" (234 x 156mm)
6.5 x 6.5" (165 x 165mm)
6.625 x 10.25" (260 x 168mm) (Graphic Novel)
6.69 x 9.61" (244 x 170mm) (Pinched Crown)
7 x 10" (254 x 178mm)
7.44 x 9.69" (246 x 189mm)
7.5 x 9.25" (235 x 191mm)
8 x 8" (203 x 203mm)
8 x 10" (254 x 203mm)
8 x 10.88" (276 x 203mm)
8.25 x 10.75" (273 x 210mm)
8.25 x 11" (279 x 210mm)
8.268 x 11.693" (297 x 210mm) A4
8.5 x 8.5" (216 x 216mm)
8.5 x 9" (229 x 216mm)
8.5 x 11" (280 x 216mm)
11 x 8.5" (216 x 280mm) Premium Color Only
And for Hardcovers:
5 x 8" (203 x 127mm) Case Lam/Cloth/Jacket
5.5 x 8.5" (216 x 140mm) Case Lam/Cloth/Jacket
5.83 x 8.27" (210 x 148mm) Case Lam
6 x 9" (229 x 152mm) Case Lam/Cloth/Jacket
6.14 x 9.21" (234 x 156mm) Case Lam/Cloth/Jacket
6.69 x 9.61" (244 x 170mm) Case Lam
7 x 10" (254 x 178mm) Case Lam
7.5 x 9.25" (235 x 191mm) Case Lam
8 x 8" (203 x 203mm) Case Lam
8 x 10" (254 x 203mm) Case Lam
8 x 10.88" (276 x 203mm) Case Lam
8.25 x 10.75" (273 x 210mm) Case Lam
8.5 x 8.5" (216 x 216mm) Case Lam
8.5 x 11" (280 X 216mm) Case Lam
11 x 8.5" (216 x 280mm) Case Lam, Premium Color Only
Again, there are no rules that you must stick to at all costs, the publishing world is constantly changing and standards that were fixed at one point are now more fluid than they have ever been.
However, the goal of your chosen trim size is to ensure that the reader understands what the book is, and that it makes the reading of the book a more pleasurable experience, so choose wisely.
We all know that self-promotion of your new book through social media is important, and I’m sure you’ve read how some authors have used this to great success, selling thousands of additional books and becoming ‘influencers’ in the process.
So, you open accounts in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on, post an image of your book with a link and wait…..
….And wait…………….and wonder why you have zero interactions, no one is following you and no one is following those links to your book either. Surely it should be easier than this, right?
Okay, maybe you haven’t expected results that quickly, but you get the point, social media only works if you work on it too. But for the new author embracing this great form of interaction (and promotion), what should you be focused on to make it more successful for you?
Here are some great ideas that you should be considering with your social media.
ONE – Post great RELEVANT and engaging content
The temptation is to make your social media accounts about one thing, your book or the product your selling, but just ask yourself one question, would you follow a channel which is purely adverts and very little else? No, of course you wouldn’t, we appreciate that ads are the things that keep these channels free to use, in many cases the ads are relevant, and we do engage, but we don’t follow a channel purely for advertising content alone.
So, the primary goal is to post content which engages, stimulates, entertains and/or educates (not too much to ask!).
Creating great content should be the number one focus for your channels, post about subjects and topics that you love, things that you are passionate about and would enjoy reading yourself, ask questions of your followers and respond when you get answers.
The number one rule is to always post great content that will engage your followers.
TWO – Engage with others
When you first start your channels you’ll more than likely start asking everyone you know to like, follow and share your profile, this is a great way to get you up and running but it still won’t amount to as many followers as you’d like.
The next thing you’ll do is look at how to get more followers, but how do you do this? Well you might be tempted by using a third-party service to generate bot followers, all of a sudden your numbers look amazing and you begin to think that you’re playing with the big leagues.
However tempting this is, don’t do it, these followers are completely pointless and most users can see straight away that your channels are not legitimate (a new account of someone who’s not famous/big name author, who’s only following 100 people but has 10K followers). Plus (and more importantly), none of these followers will buy anything you ever promote.
In order to grow your followers you have to engage with people, search out relevant topics and contribute to the conversation, follow people who interest you and some will follow you back. Growing your numbers is a long-term game, it’s something that will only happen when you get involved within the social media community and engage with it.
THREE – Use Visuals
Think of how most people view social media, it tends to be through their cell phones/mobile devices, a small screen which they swipe upwards when scrolling through their page. Also consider how much is posted within someone’s feed, keep in mind that the more people you follow the quicker the feed changes.
So, posting a short passage of text can sometimes get lost within the mass of quickly changing messages, when you use an image/GIF/video your chances of engagement skyrocket, make your posts bright, colorful, eye-catching and appealing.
You have a split second to get someone’s attention, use it wisely.
FOUR – Use a # Hashtag
If you’re not sure what a hashtag is or why you would ever need one, just look up any subject on Twitter or Instagram, in the top posts you will normally see a bunch of hashtags at the bottom of the post, things like #writerslife #writing #selfpublishing etc.
These are how users will find your post, in fairness, adding countless hashtags to the bottom of a post doesn’t look great, so be selective in the ones you do use.
FIVE – Create a promotion
People love free stuff!! Create a competition to win a copy of your book, it could simply be to share your post etc. You can also give away a free chapter of your new book to those who engage with your social media pages.
SIX – Use a headline for your post (if linking to another page)
Create a great headline that captures the imagination of your reader, this should be something which doesn’t sound like an advert but makes them want to read more.
Make the headline a question and/or use exclamation points if possible.
SEVEN – Timing
There is no point in creating great content if it will be seen by no one, the time of day that you make your posts is just as relevant as what you post about.
Usage tends to increase around lunch time and then again in the evening (Mon – Fri), at the weekend you normally see higher use throughout the day, normally from late morning (10am) onward.
You should also consider where your followers are, if posting in the US, then you should take into consideration the different time zones, if it’s 12pm in Florida it will be 9am in California. Also, if you have followers in the UK, keep in mind that they’re going to be 5-8 hrs ahead of the US.
EIGHT – Keep going
Persistence is key when using social media, not all of your posts will work (especially when you begin), but many will engage and over time your success with this media will improve, it’s important to remember this and just keep going.
Have fun with it and enjoy engaging with others, if you treat it purely as a chore which needs to be done then that’s what it will become. Social media is a great way to promote, connect, learn and have fun, but keep it positive, there is negativity within all social media, our advice is not to engage with it, keep your posts positive and follow/interact with those who keep it positive too.
We all judge books by their covers, it’s human nature to do so and why advertising works so well on us, after all, if advertising didn’t work, then all of the products in your local supermarket would be in plain packaging (it would be far cheaper for the manufacturers).
But advertising, packaging and book design works because it targets our emotions, there’s a saying in sales that ‘you don’t sell the steak, you sell the sizzle’, because if you advertised just a raw steak it appeals less favorably to our senses than the same steak just cooked, still sizzling and on a plate ready to be eaten, think of the last TV ad you saw for any major restaurant to confirm their method, you’ll also see the same in banner ads on line and in print too (and for every product).
So, having a plain book cover with just the title upon doesn’t work, or does it?
Well, in some cases (and when done right) it can work, the issue is that the bookstores are incredibly crowed, and every publication is shouting loudly to be heard, so in order to stand out from the crowd, doing what is different can actually work. However, being plain for the express reason of cutting corners and costs normally leads to a book cover design that won’t work hard enough for the author.
Remember, the express goal of your book cover design is to sell the book.
When you look in a bookstore at the rows of front pages, think of how long you spend viewing each one, now think of how long you spend looking at book covers when browsing through Amazon’s bookstore, because it’s a lot less time (and this is where the majority of your sales will normally come from). Your book cover will be either dismissed or accepted by the viewer within a fraction of a second, if it doesn’t look professional the viewer will make the same judgement call about the inside matter and very quickly move on to the next title.
A professional design for the advertising of your book isn’t just for the wish list, it’s a must if you want to compete in bookstores (both online and in the real world).
Your book cover design will need to project a message to its intended audience, you’ll need to ensure that it’s appropriate for its genre, has impact and relevance for the book itself. A lot to ask in one image but it is something that book designers achieve over and over again.
Understanding the genre is important, specific genres will normally adhere to specific styles of design for advertising, this is because of our relationship and association to certain elements. For example, if you place an image of a sword within a cover the association will be with violence, fantasy, fiction etc. On the flip side, if you were to place an image of flowers then the mood swings to romance, love, passion, peace etc.
Being aware of our association to elements and their link to the messages you want to say about the book is important, this is something that most designers spend hours brainstorming when working upon the drafts for a new book cover design.
Along with these specifics within the design are the colors chosen for the cover, this can seem a little obvious (if you see lots of pink you may assume it’s either a romance or ‘chick lit’). However, there are psychological reasons for color selection. This is something that advertisers know only too well and use all of the time, for example, using the color red encourages excitement, passion, danger, decisiveness. Whereas black represents sophistication, security, power, elegance. The colors chosen for a book cover have a far deeper meaning than you may realize and should be chosen wisely.
Once you know what colors, subject matter and elements which need to go into the cover, you should also consider how much you place within the design. As mentioned earlier, your cover will only have a split second to grab the reader’s attention, but there is always the temptation to fill the cover with lots of detail about the book. You will need to condense the focal point of the book down to one or two elements, trying to tell the entire story upon the front page will lead to a design which becomes overcrowded, when in doubt, leave it out.
A great cover design will help sell your book, but remember, there is a lot more than just putting a title upon a stock image, with thought and creativity you can have a great design which promotes your work and catches the eye of your reader.
Organizing a book cover and formatting are two important parts of your publication that can overwhelm many authors, the fact is that you’ve written a great novel, spent weeks, months and maybe even years in creating a manuscript and now the next stage in publishing stands before you, making it look good.
So, what’s the best way of formatting and book cover design? Well, there are plenty of services out there offering both and you can also do the job yourself. However, unless you are proficient in applications like Photoshop, InDesign, Quark, Scrivener and many other great tools, I would look to use a professional to do the job for you.
Both book cover design and formatting are tasks that can be organized separately, there are plenty of companies who offer both services independent of the other and will get great results too. You will also find that more authors seem to be happier in formatting their book themselves, and in some cases using specialist software (both on and off line), you’ll also see that if you use a publisher like KDP, your Word document can transfer quite well to their publishing platform (however, even with Word you can do more than you may realize in formatting the manuscript prior to upload).
However, you still need to keep in mind the presentation and design of your book’s interior, uploading a manuscript directly from Word to KDP is of course doable, but if the justification and line spacing is off, the titles are on the wrong pages or the chapter headings are laid out badly then you do your book an injustice. You can save a few bucks doing it yourself, but is it really worth it?
Book cover design is a little different, this is more so for printed book covers and especially for those who print their book through Ingram Spark. The sizing and layout for a printed book has to be very precise in order for the edges of the spine to line up with the folds, have the copy placed within the margins and centered, to have bleed areas, fonts embedded, correct color profiles and the correct dpi.
There are several applications that can be used to create book covers, but the overwhelming industry leader is of course by Adobe, we always use Photoshop and InDesign for all of our book covers and would recommend it over and above all others (again, it’s what most professional companies within publishing use). So, you could download these applications yourself (they usually have a seven day free trial), but without any knowledge of the software you will need to study in order to use them.
The choice that many will have is over time and effort, how long will it take you to become proficient in these applications and how much effort will you need to invest?
If you are setting up as a publisher who does everything in-house, then maybe learning all aspects of the software needed could be a wise investment of your time (be aware though, even most small publishers outsource these tasks to professional services, we complete work for many indie publishers ourselves). If you are publishing just for yourself, then it is far more cost effective (both in time and resources) to use a professional service instead.
It’s clear that all great authors take their work very seriously, they also know using others to assist in their publication is normally the best course of action too, knowing where your strengths are and where you should use others is an important part of any endeavor.
They tell us never to judge a book by its cover, that we should look past the artwork and carefully crafted design to better see what the content of the product is, however, this is easier said than done. We are (whether we like it or not) easily persuaded by advertising in all of its forms, this is why companies spend billions every year on selling us their goods online, in print and upon the screen.
Book cover design is no different, when placed upon a shelf or on the screen of your favorite eBook store your book is just one title in amongst millions of other books, all of which are trying to catch the eye of the buyer and convince them to stop and take a closer look
And this is the deal with choice, when you have so many options to choose from (and keep in mind that there are over 2,700 new indie titles published on average daily) your reader has a lot of book titles to look at before they decide upon their next read, so they become quicker in accepting or dismissing what’s in front of them. So, if your book cover design doesn’t grab their attention, forget it
Choice is of course a great thing, but because there are so many books to consider, you naturally scan the shelves quicker than if you only had ten books to choose from
When you look at the major publishing houses and their approach to book cover design and advertising, you can see that they clearly take this very seriously. First of all, they have a great deal of money tied up in each book that they publish, so ensuring that the publication is a success is paramount. They also understand that advertising works, your initial perception of the book will either cause you to want to find out more or move on to the next.
The big publishing houses also have a large budget and normally a team of designers at their disposal, they plan professional campaigns and great looking materials to support each book. The challenge for indie authors is that these books are your competition, so if you publish with a cheap looking cover your work will stand out in an unfavorable way against them.
You will need a book cover design that looks professional if you want your work to be considered in the same light, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars, but keep in mind that an unprofessional book cover will make the buyer assume that the contents of the book are just as unprofessional.
So, you’ve completed your manuscript, hours, days, weeks and months have gone in to it, but is it ready? For most authors being so close to their work makes it virtually impossible to look at it from an objective position, the phrase, ‘not being able to see the wood for the trees’, springs to mind.
You could persevere regardless and publish without having the book looked at, for some authors this may work, but for many it doesn’t, when the first genuine reviews hit the book’s Amazon page it can be shock. Suddenly the ratings start to come in as threes, twos and even one star, this can be depressing for any author and make you question why you wrote the book in the first place.
However, for 99% of authors their early drafts are full of errors, issues with the structure, the plot, the book’s flow and so on, but with review and editing, a manuscript can go from mediocre to outstanding.
So why doesn’t every author get their manuscript looked at by a professional?
This can be for a number of reasons:
But ask yourself these questions, why did you write the book? Do you respect your readers? Is this a vanity project? Would your favorite author cut corners?
When you get to the end of writing a manuscript it feels like you’re in the final stages of completing a very long journey, you’ve been going for miles and just ahead you can see the finish line. But although this is a common mindset to find your self in, you need to pace yourself and realize that completing the manuscript is just stage one.
When you view publishing you need to look at it as an on-going journey with your book, one that keeps going for years. So, once you have the manuscript completed you need to understand that it is not immediately ready for publication.
So why should you use an editor?
As we mentioned earlier, publishing is a long-term game and some elements within this will take time, but then most great things do. If you can look at the journey of your book as something that will blossom into a work of greatness over a timescale which may be a little longer than you first thought, you will be on your way to publishing the book you always wanted, your readers will thank you!
They say that within us all there is a book waiting to escape, but out of the seven billion (and counting) people upon this planet it is just a few who actually achieve publication, now, of course if you were to expect every single person to write a book it would be a crazy notion, many don’t have the inclination and so many are not even in a position to be able to do so. However, if you’re reading this post then you are luckier than many, you have access to the internet and more than likely have the resources to communicate to the wider world.
So, if you are sat in front of a laptop, desktop, tablet or even just a cell phone and want to see the realization of your dream of writing, you have to ask your self one question, what is stopping you?
For many of us we tend to forget just how lucky we actually are, we may have a job, a house, electricity, clean water, food, security, health, freedom and access to resources that only decades ago could only have been dreamt of. Yet, we bitch, whine and moan about how we never have the time or just don’t have the tools we need to create.
Remember, Shakespeare created plays which are still reenacted around the world today, he had no electricity or easy access to the resources you have, the same goes for Charles Dickens, yet most of us have heard of his work and his novels still delight and entertain a modern crowd.
The reality is that we have never had it so easy to create, you have more power, education and inspiration at your finger tips than any other generation, so again, what is stopping you?
Maybe you don’t have time?
And I get it, we are all busy, there are a million things we need to do and countless commitments we need to keep, but look at your day, no, really, look at it. If you were running your day like you would a business could you streamline elements? Could you find a spare thirty minutes per day or even weekly to sit down with your notepad and pen or laptop? If you wanted to write as badly as you need to breath, you would find a way, even if it meant your book took several years to complete, you would find a way to complete it.
Once more, what is stopping you?
Unless you have been given an advance by a large publishing house (and in this case you are probably a full time author anyway) you only have the deadline that you set yourself, and this is a very important element of writing to understand, it is not a race. If you are struggling to write, try not to make things even harder on yourself by sticking to an unrealistic time frame, if you need to take twenty four months or longer, do it.
Look at your week and find where you have some spare time, it may only be 30 – 60 mins per week, but when you look at this over the course of a year it would give you up to 52hrs, if you could manage just 30 mins per day five times a week then you would have 130hrs per year just to write. If you still don’t think you can spare time, add up how much time you spend checking social media and watching TV (just one hour each day is over 45 working days per year – based on an 8 hour day).
If you only ask yourself one question today, ask yourself what is stopping you?
Back in 2007 Amazon launched their Kindle platform and since then publishing has never been the same, eBooks have gone on to be a vital point of entry for many authors and they’ll continue to do so, but traditional publishing (that is publishing in print) is still strong and numbers continue to grow for the format. So, although some authors may start off in eBook alone, they will soon expand their offered formats into print too, which makes sense if you want to reach as big an audience as possible.
But why do some authors only publish as an eBook alone? Well, the digital format is normally a quicker route to market, making the book cover requires less technical ability than that required for a cover made for print, you can sell a digital book easier from your own website and the overall costs in production of an eBook tend to be cheaper. It’s essentially a great way of dipping your toe into publishing without spending a fortune.
So why go over to publishing your book in print? The book buying public seem to be falling back in love with traditional printed books, the figures show a steady decline in eBook sales and steady growth from printed formats. A recent survey showed that 39% of Americans say they only read printed, 29% say they read both formats and only 7% say they read just digital alone (25% saying they’re non-book readers - statistics from Pew Research), so not publishing in print does exclude a large chunk of readers.
Publishing in print does require a little more in the way of ‘set up’ in comparison to an eBook, the formatting (although it can be done through KDP) is better when completed by a professional, it can take a week or two to complete but the effort is worth it. There are plenty of services available to format printed books, some of which are self-service options which you can do completely online and others which will require downloading specific software to do the job for you (the likes of InDesign or Quark Xpress are two good examples of formatting software).
With formatting your own book for print it can involve a steep learning curve, if you have never used InDesign/Quark (or any of the online tools) then you may want to take some lessons beforehand, if you plan to publish many books and want to micro manage every aspect of your book’s production then this could be a good thing, if not, then we would recommend getting a professional to complete the task for you, it will be easier and a great deal quicker in the long run.
The resolution of the book cover will also need to be sharper for print, the pixels per inch (PPI) or dots per inch (DPI from print) for an eBook cover is a standard 72 DPI, with your printed cover the resolution needs to be at 300 DPI, so using high quality images will ensure a smooth print.
The book cover design layout is also far different from that of an eBook, you need to design for the back page, spine and the front page, what’s more, the layout will also need to have a bleed area which extends outwards on all four sides of the print, this area gets trimmed off in production to ensure that there are no white lines running down the sides of the book cover.
Again, as with book formatting this is something that you’ll need specific software to complete and there will be another steep learning curve if you want to create a printed book cover for yourself, realistically you may just want to use a professional, as before, it’s quicker and much easier.
So there are several things you’ll need to take in to consideration when planning to print your book, but there are lots of people who can help you with these elements (we of course design book covers from start to finish and even convert existing eBook designs to print), printing your book as a paperback or hardback is quite straightforward and well worth doing, it will certainly help you to reach a far larger audience.
Book marketing has become more commonplace for the self-publishing author than ever before, with so many new authors launching titles every day it’s clear that you must have a plan in order to reach an audience (and sell more copies of YOUR book).
This can seem daunting at first but there are plenty of things you can do in order to stand out and promote your book. Here are 18 tips you can use to market your book and self-promote.
Get on to it NOW – The earlier that you can start the process of self-promotion the better, you may be at the editing stage right now, or half way through writing the first draft, it doesn’t matter, what matters is that you understand how important it is to make a start early. Most of the social media channels will be saturated with other authors, also SEO for your website (if using one) is a long-term game, the earlier you start the more followers and site traffic you’ll have.
Get organized – Planning for your book’s success is the first step in promotion, you should work out a timeframe as to when you’ll launch and the stages which you’ll need to cover to get there. Understanding what help you’ll need (as in editing, publishing and design) will enable a clear path to publication and its timeframe, once you have that end date in mind you can plan back from it with your promotions.
Have a budget – This is going to be something that you need to be honest with yourself over, how serious are you about the launch of the book and how much do you want to invest into it? Many authors approach this element like that of a small business, creating an affordable budget for advertising which they then monitor and stick to, again, plan what you can afford (you can always increase/decrease this at a later date if needed).
Who is your audience? – One of the biggest mistakes any author can make is in believing that their book is for everyone, the simple truth is that it isn’t. And it’s a great thing when you realize this, it means that you don’t have to try and market to a massive audience (an audience who only a small percentage will be interested). So you need to understand who your readers are, be honest with yourself and just market to this group, there are over 2,500 books published daily, so unless you have millions to spend on advertising you would not be able to reach everyone even if you wanted to. Be Specific with your audience.
Who are you? – Write a bio for your website, your book (if applicable), social media, seller’s page in the online book stores and any other platform that allows. You want to connect with your reader so make sure you use a photograph (and not a pouting selfie taken from your iPhone either). You don’t need to write more than a couple of paragraphs, but it should give an insight and help your readers see you at a personal level, people buy from people they like.
Book cover design – Yes, we were bound to say it, but people do judge a book by its cover, we are all predisposed to make quick decisions based our initial perception of anything we look at, this is why advertising is such a thriving industry. Your cover is the face and advertising of your book, people will assume that it reflects the quality of the interior, if you have an unprofessional cover they will think that the pages within must be the same.
Have an author’s website – Getting a website as an author is easier than ever, there are lots of click and drag services available which will make the process so much easier for you, we have a great article on this here.
Email lists – Once you have a website, create an email list, again, there are plenty of mailing list services you can use (popular choices are the MailChimp and AWeber). You will need to give your reader something in return for their email address, so offering a free first chapter of your up and coming book, or an eBook version of one of your earlier books are great ways to increase your list.
Start a blog – If you can use this upon your website then great, if not, there are services such as Wordpress which offer pages you can use to blog from. Write about information that is relevant and always write for your reader (not just to advertise). Over time this will help to build a following and interest in YOU as an author.
Have links – Make it easy for your readers to buy a copy of your book, embed links into your website and social media posts.
Social media – Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are all free to set up, so you would be crazy not to use them, just ensure that you maintain a consistent look and set them up as separate ‘author’ accounts (keep your personal ones private – as you are building a brand as an author).
Use social media – It will only work if you use it, engage with others (in a positive manner) and post elements that your followers will find genuinely interesting, do not constantly spam people.
Advertising on Social media – You can advertise on social media and most platforms do this very well with incredibly specific targeted ads (this is a far better way than boring your followers alone with spam). It enables you to set exact budgets with great controls over how much you spend and who sees the ad.
Give your book away – eBook promotions through KDP are great and certainly help to increase the awareness of your new book, you can run them for several days and then promote accordingly.
Have book signings – they do take some planning but they can really help, speak to your local small book stores and see if this is something they’ll help you with. You can then promote on line several weeks in advance, make sure you have plenty of books along with promotional materials to highlight yourself and give away.
Guest post – If you have a particular insight to a subject you can guest post for someone else’s blog, the only thing you’ll ask for in return is a link back to your site or your book’s sales page, you would be surprised how many people are happy to have someone else write great content for their blog/website, just ask and be polite.
Book/writer’s fares – these pop up all over the place and are normally well advertised in advance, there will more than likely be a fee if you wish to have a stand set up for yourself, but they will get you in front of an important audience.
Reviews – Having reviews for your book is so important, but can be quite hard to come by, there are services that will do this for a fee, or why not run a free offer on the eBook version of your work and then promote it to all of your friends and family asking for a review once they’ve read it.
Book cover designers.