As any author will tell you, writing a book is a labor of love, it’s a long process which takes a great deal of passion, patience and perseverance. So, when you’ve written the final word upon the page, what next? The tempting first thing that you may want to do is go straight to publishing, setting up a KDP account, uploading your manuscript and then shouting about it on Facebook, but wait, just because you’ve finished writing, doesn’t mean that the manuscript is ready for launch.
Even if you don’t realize it, your manuscript will need to be edited and proofread prior to going anywhere near a Print-On-Demand service.
Speaking with an author a couple of years ago, she told me that she had written a book within the romance genre and couldn’t wait to publish it, she had invested into some great advertising and book cover design and then gone on to upload everything to KDP (Createspace as it was back then). Her book looked amazing and the sales started to come in, excellent she thought.
That is until her real reviews started to appear (and not the ones from friends and family), the first were just one star then a couple of twos and back to ones, she was devastated and pulled her book from the shelves. The real feedback this author was getting was painful, it pointed out plot holes, grammar issues and even some spelling errors, these reviews and star ratings were stopping sales, it was a tough call but she had to work further on the book.
To save yourself this headache you should always think about using an editor before you go anywhere near publishing your book, there are plenty of services available online and there are options to suit every budget. Now this sounds easy, so why doesn’t every author use an editor?
There are several reasons, it could be budget constraints, time constraints or the fear or feedback, people tend hate receiving feedback unless it’s all positive. Let’s face it, you’ve given your manuscript to someone you may not know that well and they’re telling you that areas need improving, how dare they!!
Well, that’s their job and there’s nothing personal about it either, so, as long as you are using a reputable editor, you should use this invaluable information to polish your manuscript into something amazing. A good editor will have the skill and insight to help and work with you in elevating your book, you should embrace their recommendations and keep in mind the bigger picture of publishing success.
Along with editing is proof-reading, many editors offer this service and it’s worth while considering it, this should catch any issues with the manuscript and ensure that the final publication is professional.
The editing and proofreading process can be long winded and will require re-writes, again, this is another reason that stops some authors from considering it, but it will lead to a better manuscript, better reviews and a far better chance with a larger publisher or agent.
Once completed you should consider a soft launch with your book, a soft launch enables you to get copies out to a select few readers, it becomes another step in the publication process that will help you, from your soft launch you should be able to gain quotes which you can then use either upon the cover and/or on your website/blog/social media pages. It can also give you some helpful feedback prior to a publicized launch.
There are many steps in publishing your book, in fairness self-publishing is still a great deal easier than it has ever been, but you should still take your time. Delaying your launch by a couple of weeks to tweak your book now is better than pulling it from the shelves to do later.
The quickest route to market is of course self-publishing, it’s easy and with some print on demand publishers (such as KDP) it’s even free to get started, this is great for every author who dreams of publishing but not so great when you consider the competition.
So you will need to do more than just upload your manuscript and hope it sells, having a plan and a goal for your book is incredibly important, but this isn’t something that should scare you, there are lots of things you can and should be doing to make your book sell more copies, here are our ten favorites.
ONE - Use social media
The majority of authors take more than a couple of weeks to write their books, so you will have time to build interest, so start early with social media. It’s up to you whether you use your own personal account or create new ones specifically for your ‘brand’ as and author, but it looks more professional if you keep the two separate.
The key with social media is to engage with others, post regularly and get involved with other people’s posts, you can run surveys, competitions and advertising across all of the worthwhile platforms.
TWO - Create your own website
Having an online presence for an author is easy and very cost effective, there are many services where you can build a beautiful website without any prior knowledge in web design, most services offer the use of pre-made templates that are easy to build upon and make very unique sites. Having your own website is a great way to sell yourself and promote books to an audience, it sets you out as a serious author and offers other avenues to promote from.
THREE - Build a Mailout List
Moving on from having your own website is building a mailing list, you will need to offer something for free (such as the first chapter of your next book or a complete eBook of an earlier one), in return the visitor to your website gives you their email address, over time you’ll be able to build an audience of people who you can advertise directly to when you have promotions or new book launches.
There are plenty of email list services you can use such as Mail Chimp or AWeber who make this easy and offer a host of packages to suit most author’s needs.
FOUR - Talk to others
Write a blog (again, start early and use your website), join writer’s and reader’s forums and help others, when people ask questions online join in the debate and try to answer, keep the link to your own website in your signature.
FIVE - Polish your book
There’s a temptation to start the publishing process the second you type the words ‘The End’ upon your manuscript, stop, once you have finished the manuscript you should begin the editing and proofing stage next, no exceptions. Experience shows that the majority of books that go straight to print without being edited or even proofread will experience low reviews and painful feedback from readers.
Take your time, get it edited, proof-read and fine-tuned for your audience.
SIX - Test your book prior to hard launch
Have a soft launch first, get your book out to a close circle of people to read, this could be 30 to 40 people who you either give the book to or discount down heavily. The soft launch is not about making money from book sales, it’s about feedback. This should give you the opportunity learn, revise where needed and hopefully get some quotes to use on your back page and/or website.
SEVEN - Don’t be afraid to edit
If you have taken your time with the manuscript you should have had it edited, proof-read and tested further at soft launch, once you have all of this feedback act upon it. Editing is not a dirty word and can elevate your book from good to great.
EIGHT - Publishing formats
Choice is great, offering your readers several formats to enjoy your book in is crucial, the two most important are eBook and Paperback, you should always publish in these formats as standard (the research shows us that traditional printed book sales has been rapidly going back up over the past few years, so ensure you have this option covered).
The other options are Hardback and Audio, Hardback is nice to offer but it will not make up a huge chunk of your sales, audio is rapidly growing and should seriously be considered, there are great services such as Amazon’s ACX which offer everything you’ll need to publish your book in audio (even the voice actors to read the book).
NINE - Advertising designs
Ensure that you have a great looking book cover which makes your novel stand out (and in a good way), DIY covers will save money in the short term but will do nothing for the credibility of your book. Use a professional book cover design and have tie in designs for your banners on social media and posts.
TEN - Keep moving forward
As with anything you want to become and remain successful, the key is to keep going, the marketplace is very full but you can make sales and a name for yourself as an author.
Book cover design is the advertising and face of your work and something that every author should take seriously, of course we’re bound to say this, but in all fairness the statement is still true regardless. If you want to be taken seriously from the get-go, your cover needs to look professional.
And this is ever more so the case within a heavily saturated market, with countless easy ways to purchase and read books you are up against a great deal of competition from day one, so why take any risks with your own book?
Luckily most focused authors understand this, if you have taken time to write, edit, format and then publish your book you won’t cut any corners with the book cover design either.
A great book cover sets the standard (at a glance) of the contents, if you ever see a book cover design which has been badly made and quickly thrown together you make the same assumption of the book’s interior. Remember, the cover is advertising, and all successful businesses, brands, products and books use well designed advertising…..because it works.
Self-publishing puts indie authors upon the same selling platform as the biggest names in literature, and these authors such as Stephen King, John Grisham, J.K Rowling and others have very slick well-polished books, they obviously have a name which helps to sell their work, but their cover designs and advertising all look great, you know immediately that these books should be taken seriously.
The big-name authors do have big publishing houses behind them, which most indie authors do not, however, these large publishers fully understand that professional advertising and branding works, it’s a necessity because they want their book to be successful.
And this is such a key point, they have invested a lot into the publication and as such they want their book to be a success.
You may not have the budget of a massive publisher, but you should still pay attention to the details, ensuring that the content is well edited, formatted and with an eye-catching cover is very achievable for every author, once you commit to producing the best publication you can, your chances of success increase dramatically.
Again, you don’t have to spend a fortune in one hit, if you’re committed to a great publication then break it down over several months, complete elements within the book in stages, get the book professionally edited then move on to the formatting, if it takes six months…it takes six months (your readers will definitely appreciate it, and it will show in your book’s online reviews).
You have taken many weeks, months (and in some cases) years to write your book, don’t rush the publication, make it look as great as it reads.
Book cover designers.