Thursday, July 27, 2017

Getting Ready to Publish Your Book by Betsy Ashton

I've given a dozen or more classes this year on what it takes to be ready to publish, self or traditionally. I give the attendees my actual release plan, so that they can do as much or as little as they wish. Everyone leaves my class with a game plan and a boggled brain.

Those of us who self publish have to do everything ourselves. Everything. Right now, I'm working with my cover designer. We have a good idea, an image that is close, and  a plan to modify said image. Spooky cover. Hoodie with a pair of eyes following you around. The cover is the fun part. Getting the ISBN, back matter, blurbs all have to be done around the same time. So does asking people to read the ARC, get more blurbs back, and review on Amazon. I think two of the three of the latter points are easy. Getting that darned review up on Amazon, well, a whole different matter.

I talk to the class about housekeeping issues. If they don't have a website, they need a professional-looking site before the book is available. Where else will readers be able to buy a signed copy if they don't live near the author? Goodreads? Wait, I have to be on Goodreads? Sure do, sister. That's where readers hang out. Author Central from Amazon? I thought Amazon did that. Nooo, you, dear author, set it up. How else will you track e-book sales on Amazon and book sales on all other distribution sites?

What about newspaper interviews? Well, you can hire a publicist, or you can develop a press kit with your press release, a brief summary of the book, interview questions, and a list of places where you can be contacted. You do the legwork. No one else will.

What about social media, you ask? Don't sit there and tell me all you have to do is put the book out, and it will sell. That worked in Field of Dreams, but I'm not Kevin Costner and I don't have a multi-million ad budget. How the heck will people other than friends and family know you have a book out if you don't use the tools at hand to spread the word? If you don't want to use all the current apps, pick one or two where you feel comfortable. Also, pick ones where your readers come to share information and play. For example, if you write YA, hang out in Snapchat, Instagram, and several others whose names I can't remember. I don't write YA, but I'm trying to learn how to use Instagram. Pinterest is fun, but it doesn't really drive traffic to my website or Amazon where my books are available.

Did I hear you say you don't want to do all of the work yourself? If you have a kid whose interested, use said kid. If you don't, consider hiring a virtual assistant who can set up posts on your chosen apps.That will cost money, and you might not see a return on your investment immediately. But if you don't want to do the work and you can't afford to hire someone, you should set you mind to selling a few books to friends, colleagues, and family. It will be harder to attract strangers if you hide.

Writing the book is the easy part. Even working with a professional editor is the easy part. Sucking it up and shoving yourself out there in front of readers is not for the faint of heart. We all have to do it. We need to learn to do it well.

Next time, we'll talk about giving a book talk...

8 comments:

Jannine Gallant said...

Since 2010 when my first book released, I've also learned that a lot of hours spent on promo can be a huge waste of time. Finding the avenues that work for you and dropping the rest are key to productive promotion. It's great that you teach a class for those just getting started, Betsy!

Vonnie Davis said...

When I first started, I spent 4 hours a day on promo. Good thing I'm retired. I have a PA now who takes care of tweets and facebook posts and other promo. I still do some. I like facebook party takeovers. A half hour of my time...I get to meet readers...interact...and show my off the wall personality. Writers do need to learn this business is a lot of work. And it'll be up to them to do it themselves. Good for you to get that point across.

Leah St. James said...

So true, Betsy...so true! I've spent far too much time on promo that didn't work over the last couple of years. I think Jannine has the right idea.

Rolynn Anderson said...

In my last 'free' promo, I got about 400 downloads...two reviews. When I free-promo'd Lie Catchers three years ago, I got 1400 downloads and I'm now up to 72 reviews. But Amazon Encore/Wild Rose holds the reins on Lie Catchers. Amazon didn't tell me the novel sells for $1.49 right now. I have absolutely no power over that book...when it 'sells' I am watching from the sidelines. Betsy, you are right about being 'faint of heart.' This biz is nuts!

Brenda Whiteside said...

Agree with so many of the comments. And even with a publisher, you still do 99% of the promo. The facts of life.

Andrea Downing said...

Good advice, Betsy. And a lot of authors forget to go after newspaper interviews which you mention. When my first book, Loveland, came out, I got three newspaper interviews in the UK where I used to live along the lines of 'former resident now writing western romance.' Ya never know...

Diane Burton said...

Wonderful advice, Betsy. We who self-pub do, indeed, have to do it all. I don't do my own covers since I have zero talent. And I hire an editor since I can't seem to see my own mistakes. LOL I started self-pubbing in 2011 and had to learn FB, Twitter, Triberr, Pinterest, and a ton more new things. (Who says an old dog can't learn new tricks?) What promo works and what doesn't is still a mystery. I wish I could wave a magic wand and let every reader know about my great/wonderful/fantastic (hahaha) books. Until I can, I'll slog away at promoting my books and hope people buy them. I'd love to take your class. Is it ever online?

Alicia Dean said...

Great advice. You are so right. Authors definitely can't just write a book, then sit back and do nothing. Jannine is spot on. Focusing on promo that works and not wasting your time on trying to do too much is key. Though, the age-old question is...what really works?