You have written your book, it’s been published in print and you have 700 copies on a pallet in the garage plus you’ve just listed the book on Google Play, Amazon and in iBook’s. Now you are waiting for the sales and royalties to roll in – right? Ah, no – that’s not how it works.
As I tell our authors, writing and publishing your book is the easy bit, now the hard work starts with marketing.
Back in the day, authors had publishers who would take them on publishing tours and spend $30,000 on a marketing plan for each release. And that still happens. There are authors who have those services available to them. However, these days most authors do their own publicity, especially if they want to make any money.
If you’ve received a $15,000 advance for a 10,000 print run from a major publisher, congratulations and we’ll say good-bye here. If you’re still with me, let’s get down to taws.
I’m assuming you’ve taken my advice and have a good author photo, a readable blurb for your book and social media assets developed. If you don’t have social media assets let’s start with the basics.
Social media assets
You need a website dedicated to your book, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account as a minimum. Depending on the book (cookbooks – think Pinterest, young adult – think Tumblr, business – think LinkedIn) you will need other assets. Stay with the mainstream social media mentioned above and/or Google+, Instagram, and YouTube because your time is limited.
You can only manage a certain number of accounts well with the time and resources you have.
Consider using Hootsuite to manage your social media so that you can automate the scheduling of your posts. Use the strengths of your social media assets: share links on Twitter (they get a greater click-through rate), pictures on Facebook and videos on YouTube.
Once you have your assets, you need to maintain them. Try to tweet every day, Facebook once a day, update LinkedIn twice weekly and blog once a week. Add your Twitter feed to your website, so the content is constantly being refreshed (Google loves fresh content).
Add a Google Analytics code to each page of your website so that you can track and analyse your traffic easily.
The great news about all these assets is that they are free to create and operate. You only start adding costs once you start advertising, which I recommend but only once you have all your social media and other digital assets working for you.
Social media is everywhere – so you can be too.
Other digital assets
As an author there are some great sites devoted to books where you can create an account and get your books reviewed. In fact, there is an entire industry devoted to just that. GoodReads is essential. It’s free to create an account and you can add that great author photo, your bio and write a blog that could reach 30 million book lovers. There are other sites but GoodReads is a great place to start.
Your book’s website
Your website is a salesperson who works 24/7 and doesn’t take sick leave. It should be as slick as you can make it. Have a look at the sites of other authors in your genre for what works. Huffington Post surveyed its readers for their favourites and never underestimate the power of independent bloggers and reviewers – they will link to your website.
Now that you are an author, you should make it a goal to write a blog post each week. If you have a WordPress website or blog site, you can put the goal in the settings and it will remind you to post a blog via email.
Content for social media and blogs
Clearly, if you have speaking engagements, book signings or launches you will write about these. You should also have a friend take photos of you signing books and speaking, so that you can include them in your posts.
But what happens when you run out of ideas? Firstly, sit down and write out 10 blogging topics and set yourself the task to write one a week. Next, use the tools built into HootSuite and other sites to curate content for you. Enter a list of key words and it will suggest content for your to post from others. Follow key accounts on Facebook and Twitter and repost and retweet their content: it gives you content for little effort and the other account may return the favour and share something of yours.
For your blog topics think about things that will interest your readers – where did your characters come from? How did you work out which topics to address in your business manual? What is it like being an author? People are interested in your story. So tell a story about writing the book or how you became an author or what prompted you to write the book. Use storytelling, similes (phrases that use the words ‘like’ or ‘as’), active language, metaphors and detailed examples. These techniques will make your posts more interesting.
Offer to speak at your local writers group, editor’s society, service club or any other group you think might be interested in your topic. Contact your local council about “Meet the author” events at public libraries.
Visit your local bookshop and see if they will have you speak at one of their author lunches. Browse your local Meetups for groups that may like a guest speaker.
Try and line up at least 12 speaking engagements a year. Aim to sell a set number of books each time you sell. After a few speaking engagements, you will be able to gauge how many books you sell on each occasion. If you sell 20 books each time you speak, then you will need to have 35 speaking engagements (almost one a week) in a year to clear those 700 books out of the garage.
In every state in Australia there are societies of authors and publishers, writing centres, book clubs and writers festivals. Get involved, take a stand or stall at any relevant conferences where you think your book might sell.
Write a media release for your book launch. Send it to your local paper as well as the major metro dailies as well as bloggers and relevant sites for your topic. Provide professional photographs of you and images of your book cover. Use a wire service such as AAP Medianet or PRWire to distribute your release (this will cost money). If you don’t have a budget for a paid service use one of the free PR newswire services. At the very least, get your release indexed by Google News.
Knock on doors
It’s not very likely but you can try the direct approach to getting your book in bookshops. Try Readings, Gleebooks, Dymocks (try your local Dymocks first), and independent book stores (check the directories hosted by Australian Independent Bookseller and Danny Yee).
Use a distributor
If you have a print book, send your book to a distributor. Dennis Jones & Associates is the most used service in Australia but you can also try Macmillan Distribution Services, Australian Book Group and United Book Distributors. If you have a specialist topic that you can approach (like Koorong for Christian resources or Booktopia for tertiary education).
Now you have all your assets developed, your distribution plan in place and a few dates for conferences and speaking engagements plus all those commitments to tweet, post, and blog and vlog (video blogging). Organise all your commitments into a Google Calendar (another free asset). Input your daily, weekly, monthly and ad hoc commitments. You will soon find that you have something pencilled in for most days/weeks.
That sounds daunting but if you aim to be a full time writer, then you’d better get used to putting yourself into the public gaze to vend your wares.
And the best-selling tactic?
The very best thing you can do to sell your first book is to write and publish your second. Think of it as renewing your product line. We all want the latest, the freshest and the most up to date; however, if we can get a bargain we might very well buy an older model. Game of Thrones didn’t become a hit in the first season. Some people are catching on now and Season 1 is selling well in iTunes.
If you’ve got this far, congratulations! You are well on your way to being a successful published author. We wish you all the very best and hope that you become a household name or at least sell all the books you have printed.
Red Raven Books is the publishing and imprint arm of The Copy Collective. Find out how we can help you today.