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.


  1. Very informative post, Victorine. Thanks much for posting. Maybe you should add a reminder not to forget to take a double dose of vitamins. Or get an added cushion for the computer chair. I'm being facetious. Any writer knows the importance of marketing, whether in indie or traditional publishing. Thanks again.

  2. Nice information. I have a growing list of things labeled as "Things to do Right!!!" on my desk.

    1. Book descriptions- Error free, proper grammar and formatting.
    2. Tagging- Make use of all the tags available, both generic and specific.
    3. Cover- Size, readability as a thumbnail, busy vs not busy.
    4. Pricing- Standard, comparative, loss leader, giveaway, discounts, free.
    5. Repeat for all Amazon sub-domains.
    6. Product refresh- Apply feedback, typos, cover update, blurbs, tags, 6 to 12 month rotation.
    7. Visibility- local, regional, global, cover art as avatars on forums, signatures etc.

    List goes on and on and gets added to all the time.

  3. Thanks Vicki. You've always been gracious about giving a helping hand. Good advice, especially about the reviews. :)

  4. You look like you put a lot of thought into this post...and it's a great load of information/advice. Thanks!

  5. Thanks Vicky for that piece of information. Very informative and right to the point. #4, 6, 7, and 8 stand alone as golden advice. This piece should be the guiding light for all writers, or indie authors in search of sound marketing.
    Your generosity rocks!

  6. Thanks, Vicki...this is wonderful information. :)

  7. This blog is so on point. Thanks.

  8. Great post, Vicki! So many of these are easy to do, but overlooked by authors. One advantage of getting involved on sites like Kindle Boards is the chance to learn from other authors. It has been great for me; I've found new places to advertise, new strategies, and (perhaps most importantly) moral support!

  9. Hi Vicki - this is a bit strange. I noticed visitors to my blog coming from here (and Amanda Hocking's blog) when I didn't remember commenting recently - then I saw all the links to my posts below.

    Can you see them? I didn't put them there. How did they get there?

    Yours puzzled,


  10. I did see them. How weird. I unclicked "show back links" in my settings and they disappeared. I'm not sure what back links are, but they're gone now. :)

  11. Awesome post Vicki! I'm linking to it from my website!

  12. Just saw this one :) Thanks for the mention.

  13. Thanks so much for this post, Victorine. I'm so glad I found your website. Congrats on your success, by the way. You probably don't remember me, but you critiqued one of my stories on CC in 2008(Chocolate Aftertaste) and you mentioned then that you were not a published author. I'm so happy for you that that has changed. You're an inspiration.

  14. Hi Liz! So nice to meet up with you again on the internet. I'm glad my post was helpful! :)

  15. I just published my first work of fiction--a short story collection! So, this definitely helps, thanks so much!

  16. Thank you for this! I was actually just pondering this question today when I saw the link to this post tweeted. Great advice, I'm still working on implementing some of it. :) Now I'm off to check out your addicted to ebooks site.

  17. Love this post. Lots of great advice for authors.

  18. what if you do artwork as a side job. Should you still hire someone ?

  19. You can make your own book cover. I would just suggest getting other eyes on it to make sure it is shouting the right genre, and looks professional. It's hard to take a step back and be a good judge of your own work. As long as you get some outside opinions, you should be fine making your own cover. :)

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