Publishing and book promotion isn’t a hobby, it’s a small business.
Yet an alarming number of first time authors are showing up on my virtual doorstep totally unprepared for what it takes to become successful and actually make money.
So I’ve developed a short list of ‘rules’ that will prepare you to release your first book, or your next book, but with a refined, focused strategy for getting more out of your book promotion.
Rule #1: Be a clever businessperson
When you first decide to write a book it shouldn’t only be about the story.
Yes, that sounds much less romantic than the dream of being an author, but it’s true.
Of course, focus on writing a good book, that’s a prerequisite, but there’s a list of other requirements as well, like a great editor, a stellar book cover design, and a book promotion plan.
You wouldn’t go out and buy a bunch of inventory and then try to figure out how to start a business and who your shoppers will be, right? Of course not, that’s insane, and totally backwards!
So writing and publishing a book THEN realizing you don’t know anything about book marketing or promotion, or who your audience is and how to reach them, is equally as crazy.
Rule #2: Don’t slack on your production schedule
We’re still not at the sexy stuff, but it’s important.
Publishing a book is your first step, but publishing your next book, and your next, should be on your short list of things to focus on.
If you want to sell more books you need to release more books, that’s how this works. Really successful authors in today’s market don’t have just one book.
Of all the book marketing strategies that have come and gone, the reality that books sell books still holds true.
If you’re writing fiction, you have to publish at least one book a year, but that’s asking a lot of your readers, to wait that long. Try to do more, consider novellas if that’s better for your schedule.
If you’re writing nonfiction, one book a year is a good goal, but don’t forget to capitalize on updating titles if you’re in an industry or covering a topic that keeps evolving.
Rule #3: Stop wasting your time
Obviously no one says, “I want to publish a book and waste a ton of time doing nothing to actually sell it!”
But sadly, that’s not the reality. I talk to plenty of authors who come to us after the new release window has closed and say, “I just didn’t ever market my book, but I want to save it.”
Too many authors frantically market their books in waves when they feel like they have extra time, or when sales totally drop off, or never take off after too much waiting – but that’s not how it should be.
Book promotion requires a quality over quantity approach. Yes, you need to be consistent, but you also need to be smart.
If something is working for you, even a little bit, focus on maximizing that strategy and spend your time there. You also need to support what’s working with other strategies. Everything you do should support other pieces of your book marketing plan.
Likewise, if something isn’t working, and you’ve tried a couple variations and played with the timing a bit, drop it and move on.
Rule #4: Be a market and reader expert
Publishing a book also requires a dedication to being an expert in your reader market.
What I mean is, authors who sell more books truly understand their genre, the people who read their genre, and what makes them tick.
When was the last time you brainstormed your buyer market demographics?
And are you sure you’re on the right social networks based on those demographics? (Take our quiz to find out which social media is best for you.)
Do your potential readers prefer series or standalone books? What problems do they have that you can solve? Would they rather read novels or novellas?
All of these factors should dramatically affect your book marketing and will definitely determine whether or not you sell more books in the future.
Rule #5: Build your confidence and stop all the guesswork
Deciding to publish a book is a big deal, and making that book successful is a big job.
But you can cut out a lot of the guesswork while also building your confidence if you commit to learning.
For example, if you know you should be on Goodreads and Instagram, commit to learning how to use all the features on those platforms, and keep up with resources that focus on maximizing your presence there.
For example, Goodreads has a fantastic blog for authors and advertisers.
I talk to too many authors that say, “I don’t know if I’m doing this right.”
And while I get that, unless the big checks are rolling in there’s always room for improvement, but you owe it to yourself to at least be able to say, “I’m doing everything right, but it’s just not working. I want to figure out why.”
It’s a lot easier for me to help authors take their books to the next level when they’re already pretty savvy about their market, their potential buyers, and the platforms they should be using. Or at minimum, committed to learning, and learning during our time working together.
If you’ve already published a book and feel lost, and a lot of the above resonates with you – there’s still plenty of hope!
These rules were not compiled to subtly tell you to throw in the towel, but instead, give you a reality check.
Perhaps it’s not worth trying to go back in time with your latest book, but instead commit to doing it ten times better with your next release.
That’s the beauty of being an author, we get a chance to do it better every time we decide to publish a book.
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How are you bringing your A-Game to 2019? Please share in the comments!