As a writer, you are solely responsible for planning and structuring your story in a way that leads to a completed book. Unfortunately, promotion does not work that way. There’s no magic wand to make your book sell instantly. Many of the aspects influencing your book sales are beyond your control, and in spite of all your work, your efforts do not necessarily convert into success. Regrettably, skipping these efforts completely will unquestionably result in failure.
Over the years I’ve observed that authors who successfully self-publish have a common denominator; an approach to do certain things without fail. This knowledge made me publish the following ‘Dos and Don’ts.’
DO write a great book
You’re not the only writer out there, and the competition is murderous. Books that are merely ‘okay’ won’t be able to compete. This also means your book should be painstakingly edited and proofed before final publication. No shortcuts available here.
DO use a terrific book cover
If you are not a graphic artist yourself, using clip-art and a word-processor will most likely produce a cover that looks poor and unprofessional. Your potential readers will never read your first page. You’ve heard it before, but a book is judged by its cover, first of all. Even on a shoestring budget it is possible to have a book cover created by a professional. It’s totally worth it.
DO regard your writing as a business
This means you need a marketing plan and a budget. Don’t waste all your hard work by simply dumping your book out there. Do your homework, and do it well. Due Diligence.
DO talk about your book to everyone
This is free promotion, and it can be done with little to no additional effort. Put a link to your eBook in your email signature, your business cards, and of course, use the social networks like Facebook, Twitter, G+, et cetera, to share it wherever you can. If you had it printed, always carry a few copies with you everywhere you go. If you don’t let people know, chances are they will never learn about your book.
DO your own networking
Try to get coverage for your authorship, by having your excerpts, book reviews, and interviews featured in magazines, blogs, and social media. Features and interviews are more likely to create significant attention, but are considerably harder to get. While doing all of the above, still expect only a fraction of all these efforts to pay off. Be patient.
DO engage your writing colleagues
Like you, your fellow writers thrive on comments, critiques and recognition. If you would like them to reciprocate, and have an interest in you and your work, resulting in a larger fan base, and acceptance of your work as an author, show interest and solidarity.
After all these DOs, it’s likely you’ll start overDOing it. As a magazine, we receive literally over a hundred thousand unsolicited book promotions, by email and social media, per year. Just imagine the time spent to manually curate this influx. Useless for the sender, and a complete waste of time for us, while it may very well ruin your reputation as an author in the process. Instead, try to find an angle of mutual interest with your recipient that is not blatantly obvious book promotion. Above all, be courteous and respectful.
DON’T get upset
If someone doesn’t want or like your book, so be it. Not everyone has the same interest or appreciation for what your book is about. Expect and accept that. Move on.
DON’T define success in terms of unattainable goals
If success for you means nothing less than getting a listing on the New York Times best seller list, you may become discouraged quickly. (Of course, I’d love for you to prove me wrong.) Instead, set reasonable goals, and consider yourself successful if you reach them.
DON’T give up
Keep at it. It takes time and effort to promote your book and create a fan base. Giving up could mean never selling another book.
Any dos and don’ts you would like to add? Please DO!