What do you need before you publish your book? This is an important question since you need to be promoting your book months before it becomes available. The world needs to know you’re an author or publisher. The world needs to know you have a book for sale and that they want to buy it. That’s right; want to buy your book.
In 2010 when my first thriller, The Savannah Project, was released, my wife watched me sell books (or attempt to sell books) at an event. I sat at my table with exactly zero experience in sales of any kind. She gave me a word of advice that, at first, I thought was useless. I mean what does she know about selling books, right? Turns out, a lot more than me. Her words of advice were these: “Everyone who walks through the door wants to buy your book, they just don’t know it yet. It’s your job to help them see it.” What she meant was that everybody is a potential customer. When I wrote The Savannah Project, I told her it was a man’s book and that women wouldn’t be interested in guns, action, blood, murder, mystery, etc. Sound silly? Let me say this from my vantage point 3 years and 2 books later—she was dead on. My wife and I waged a bet on whom the majority of my readers would be—she said women, I said men. The ratio now is 60/40, women leading the pack. Perhaps even 65/35. Nevertheless, she was right. Again. Bottom line is, you’re not just selling your book(s), you’re selling yourself. Successfully sell yourself and your books will sell.
When it comes to selling yourself, don’t sell yourself short by taking shortcuts. Be professional and mindful in everything you do and everything you say because, whether you know it or not, someone is paying attention. Make yourself known, just do it in a positive manner.
The author/publisher toolkit is vital if you are serious about writing and publishing your book. I’m assuming you are since you paid your hard-earned money to buy this guide. I am also making the assumption you’ve given up on, or never considered, pursuing a traditional publishing contract. But, without a minimum arsenal at your side, you’re dead in the water before you get started. In this day and age, if you don’t have a virtual presence, no one will know you exist. Or worse. That your book exists. What does your toolkit look like? Consider the following as your minimum equipment list or survival kit for authors/publishers.
The first item in your toolkit should be your website. If you don’t already have one, get one and get it now. To get started, there are several good sites on the Internet that will allow you to build a website for free (wix.com & weebly.com are examples). A simple Internet search will reveal many more. Your website is the critical spot to sell yourself. You will need a professional, eye-catching website that is easy to navigate. Your ultimate goal when you start social networking is to drive people to your website. Your website is where you will introduce yourself, market your books, and sell yourself to the book-buying public. It is a representation of you-the-author or you-the-publisher. It is also a reflection of you. If your website looks like crap or is confusing to navigate at first glance, visitors will feel disappointed, leave, and probably won’t come back. They will view your book just as unprofessional as your website…whether it is or isn’t. Your website needs, as a minimum, an attractive home page that invites visitors to browse around, and if it’s an author website, a bio page preferably with a good quality photo of yourself (you don’t have to spend a fortune on a photographer, use your spouse or significant other or a friend). People like to see the face of the author they are reading. They want to establish a connection to the book they read. It is human nature. You’ll also need a synopsis page for each book and links to buy your book(s). Let me emphasize this again: Links to buy your books. Don’t make potential readers (buyers) have to search for your books on Amazon or any of the other sites, give them the links on your website to all the sites where your book is available. This might sound like a “duh” comment but you would be amazed at how many authors don’t make the buying process simple for potential customers.
Next item in your toolkit is your Twitter account. If you haven’t already, open a Twitter account now. Use it and link it back to your website. Remember, your ultimate goal is to drive people to your website.
Every toolkit these days also needs a Facebook fan page. If the whole idea of a fan page seems pompous to you, get over it. You need this. When you set it up, link it to what? Your website! Also save yourself some energy now. Link your Facebook fan page to your Twitter account so every time you post on your fan page, your post is automatically tweeted on your Twitter account.
Do the same with Goodreads, LinkedIn, and any other social media networks in which you will be actively involved. Key word—actively. If you’re on a site and inactive, you’re turning off prospective readers…who are also prospective buyers.
Now add a blog. Sound difficult? Really it isn’t. There are plenty of good blogging sites out there, such as WordPress. As a matter of fact, many authors, and publishers alike, create their entire website on one of these blog sites, linking it to a personalized URL, such as mine: http://chuckbarrettbooks.com.
My author website was designed by AuthorBytes but powered by WordPress.
Now you’re ready to start blogging about your upcoming release, or anything else that crosses your mind for that matter. But remember one thing, ALWAYS leave a link on your blogs back to your main website. Set your blog feeds to automatically send out to Twitter, your Facebook page, Goodreads, LinkedIn, and anywhere else you want it posted. The more exposure you get, the better your odds of driving more people to your website which is, once again, where you will sell yourself as an author or publisher.
Let’s do a quick recap of your barebones toolkit:
Facebook Fan Page
Other Social Media Sites.
Link them together to minimize your online efforts and maximize your visibility.
If you would like the entire book, Publishing Unchained: An Off Beat Guide To Independent Publishing, Click here. Available in eBook or Trade Paperback