Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I've published...now what?

So you've worked and slaved, polished up your book until it sparkles, hired an editor and cover artist, and now it's finally published. Whew! That's a euphoric feeling, isn't it?

Hmm. What do you do now? Maybe you've announced your book on Facebook and Twitter. You might have even joined a forum or two and announced it there. I'm guessing your close friends and family might have even bought a copy. And now you find yourself strumming your fingers on the table.

Don't worry. I've made a list of things to do now. (And combined it with things NOT to do.)

1. I'm going to assume you did your homework and hired a reputable editor. You probably got sample edits from several sources, looked at the different editing styles, and chose your favorite. You maybe even hired a proofreader to catch any stray errors after you're done making the final edits. Good. Please make sure you did this before doing anything else, or you could end up embarrassed. If you've published prematurely, don't worry, just hire an editor now and upload a new file once it's edited.

2. Now you're ready to submit your book to book reviewers. (I also call them book bloggers.) Don't go submitting without doing your homework. Make sure they take self-published books and review your genre. Read their guidelines and respect them. Don't send them an ebook if they only take paper copies. You may also want to read some of their reviews to see if you think they would mesh well with your book. You can find book reviewers with google searches, or on Twitter. It may be helpful to find another self-published book that is similar to yours and search for book bloggers who have reviewed that book. Here's a couple of websites that list reviewers who accept indie books to get you started: http://indiebookreviewer.wordpress.com/ and http://www.theindieview.com

3. It takes a while for book bloggers to get to your book. Don't pester them. Some might never get around to reviewing your book. Accept that and send out a lot of books so you have a better chance at getting some reviews.

4. If a book blogger gives you a bad review, do not respond. I know your fingers will itch to post on their blog telling them they don't know what they're doing. Resist the urge. Even if they said your book was riddled with typos, and you paid several hundred dollars to have it edited. Don't respond. Even if they said, "I hated the zombies" and there are no zombies in your book. Go take a walk. Breathe in and out. Do NOT respond to any negative reviews. Ever. It just makes you look bad, no matter what you do. And don't respond in private either. The only correct response for a review, good or bad, is to thank the reviewer. You'll be shocked to hear it, but I know reviewers who have had threatening emails after posting a bad review. Never never never do this. A bad review isn't the end of your book. If you get a bad review, the best thing to do is look up your favorite book on Amazon and read all of the one star reviews. It will make you feel a lot better.

5. Okay, now that you've sent off your book to some book reviewers and prepared yourself to react in a super awesome way no matter what kind of reviews you get, it's time to build yourself a fan base. Giveaways are a great way to do this. You can give away books on a Facebook page that you've created for yourself, or on your blog. Attracting readers to these things can be hard, but don't despair. This is where the next step comes in.

6. Join some forums or social networks and socialize. The socialize part is the most important part of this. It's easy to join social networks. Twitter, Facebook, Kindleboards, Goodreads...these are great social networks. The hard part is the socializing part. Do not join these places and send out messages about why people should buy your book. That is called Spam and it doesn't work. You'll only annoy people. What you'll want to do is join in the conversations. There are some great people on Twitter. Follow some people. Watch their tweets. If they don't talk to people, they're probably not worth your time to follow. Try to follow some real people. When they post something interesting, respond with something equally interesting. Try to strike up some conversations of your own by posting witty comments. Be yourself. You'll make friends. Once you've made friends, you can invite them to your giveaways. You'd go participate in a giveaway from a friend, but you probably wouldn't care if it were someone you didn't know.

7. Don't spam, but don't be shy about the fact you're an author either. When you sign up for social networks, make sure to put in information about your book. On facebook, you can use your book cover as your avatar if you want. On Kindleboards, they allow you to put your book cover in your signature line. On Twitter, put that you're an author in your bio, and mention the title of your book. And of course you're using your author's name everywhere you sign up, right? (Whatever you're using on your book covers.) You want to get your name out there. If someone gets to know 'writerchick' on Twitter, they might want to check out her book. But they can't remember her name. It's important to get your name out there.

8. Network with other authors. This is important. If you log in each day and check out the Writer's Cafe on Kindleboards, you will find opportunities to advertise. I recently started up a website called Addicted to eBooks.com. I announced it on Kindleboards and invited authors to post their books. If you check the new posts each day, you'll find lots of great opportunities to share your book with others. Be sure to post regularly too, so authors will get to know you. You might be invited to do an interview or participate in something else.

9. Do unto others as you would have them do to you. Don't be so focused on yourself that you forget to help others. If you see a new author asking what you might think is a silly question, answer it. Be kind. If another author has a book that looks like it would be good, buy it and read it. If you liked it, post about it on the social networks. Tell others why you liked the book. Wouldn't you want someone else to do that for you, if they read and liked your book? If you have a blog, maybe you want to interview other authors. If you see an opportunity to help someone, do it. You would like the same thing done for you. And I always believe that what goes around comes around.

10. Be professional. Like it or not, if you've published a book you are now in the public eye. Be careful what you post on the internet. Treat others with respect. It's okay to joke around, but never do it at the expense of others. If someone on the internet makes you angry, don't react right away. Cool off and come back with a level head. Never participate in flame wars. And most of the time it's better not to say anything than get involved in an online argument.

11. Be ethical. Don't go ask your friends to post good reviews of your book, or worse, post fake reviews using sock puppet accounts. It doesn't make you look good to have reviews like that.

12. And finally, watch and learn. Keep an eye on the successful indies, and watch what they are doing. Read their posts on their blogs and on the forums. See what kinds of decisions they make, and which ones work for them and which ones don't. Many of us try a lot of things. Some of them work and some of them don't. Before you make a decision about something, look to see how successful it is. Pay attention to the trends. What worked last year might not work today. And if you see someone giving out advice, click to see what rank their book is. Sure, it might save you money to do your cover art yourself or not hire an editor, but if you see the person giving out that advice has their book ranked #250,000 on Amazon and has several one star reviews, maybe that's not the best advice to take.

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