To wrap up my series on self-publishing tips, we have reached the point of the lesson that will hopefully be a bit more fun, putting your creativity and social networking to good use.
For some authors, technology and social media and all that other quackery can be very frustrating when building a presence, online or otherwise. The thing is, having a strong and recognizable presence or “author platform” is essential to selling your books, especially when you are self-publishing. Because there are no PR or marketing companies to advertise your upcoming book’s debut, schedule a book tour, or plan any other appearances to boost sales, you are in charge of it all. Though this is a daunting undertaking, Midnight Publishing offers a comprehensive publicity package to help with any marketing needs.
In Part Two of this series, I left off at copyrighting your work and jumped straight into marketing for a reason. Even though you still need to format your book and design a cover, building your author platform should start before the book has been released.
7) Marketing/Building your author platform.
Not only is increasing your social media span a great way to meet potential graphic artists, formatters, book bloggers, and other writers, but it will increase the anticipation for your book release. Having a decent amount of people who you’ve already befriended when the book is released can make a huge difference in whether it does well straight out of the gate or not.
And when I say befriended, I mean it. The 2014 Guide to Self-Publishing explicitly states that making meaningful connections with 10 people is going to benefit you much more than 1,000 insignificant ones ever will.
Ways to build an author platform:
-Start a website and blog.
WordPress is the favorite choice for blogs among most writers because of its versatility, however, if you decide to purchase your own domain name (otherwise the name of your website will have the word www.something.wordpress.com), then WordPress is not very user-friendly. I personally recommend Weebly.com, and designed my own blog/website with them. To host through the site it’s $5 a month, and to purchase your domain name for a year is around $20. By doing this, it sends a message that you are serious about your book, brand, and business. I highly recommend purchasing your own domain name to build credibility with a readership.
-Make a Twitter and Facebook.
This is an incredible marketing tool to meet other writers, literary agents, book bloggers, and graphic artists. Link them to your blog so that each new post updates on your Facebook and Twitter as well.
-Write guest posts on other’s blogs.
This is huge for growing readership on your own blog—the trick is to find similar and relevant blogs of other writers, book reviewers, etc. and contact them to offer your services as a guest blogger. It’s a win-win: they don’t have to write a post for that day, and you get the opportunity to introduce yourself to their entire audience and hopefully direct them to your site as well. Make sure that your guest post is well-written, edited, and delivered to them on time.
Aside from all of these, it’s best to enlist the marketing skills of Midnight Publishing or others to assist in scheduling your in-person appearances, sending out press releases for the book, and distributing your book/products to vendors.
8) Formatting and distributing your book.
There are two ways to sell your book: in digital format and print. Because you are self-publishing, you most definitely want to have your book available on digital platforms such as Amazon, iBooks, Nook, Smashwords, etc. and to do this, your book needs to be formatted accordingly.
Different platforms accept different formats of your book, and you cannot simply upload a Microsoft Word or PDF file to a platform. You need to think about fonts, chapters, a table of contents, etc. so that your book reads well and appears professional.
Regarding printing your books, Amazon’s CreateSpace is revolutionary for self-publishers who want to sell print versions of their books. They are a print-on-demand company, and when you set up an account with them and readers purchase your books, then and only then are they printed and mailed out. This is to prevent self-publishing authors from buying expensive printed books in bulk and having them sit in a corner of the garage for years.
9) Designing a book cover
This is the final step in my “self-publishing book completion tips,” although you can technically design your cover or hire a graphic artist at any point during the entirety of this process. Personally, I finished my second draft before hiring an artist, because first impressions are crucial when readers are glancing at your book. A cover truly can make or break a new author’s sales, especially when it’s in digital format. Here are some cover designers I’ve come across and that come highly recommended:
Look at this website for ideas of successful book covers. You can also design the book cover yourself, using Cover Creator through Createspace, Adobe Photoshop or BookCoverPro. Or find stock photos, and always make sure you copyright the photos/graphics for your cover.
That wraps it up for my self-publishing tips, with my next post going in-depth about what to look for in an editor!
Until then, keep writing and keep dreaming!
For more information on Ashley R. Carlson, see “About the Author” below and find her dilly-dallying at her:
Midnight Publishing offers skilled and affordable media architects for manuscript editing, self-publishing consultation and guidance, and author marketing. The ultimate role of the editor is to help the author connect with the reader. A good editor enhances that connection, providing another eye and view for the author. Our editors are artists of language, grammar, and the mechanics that help a manuscript take the journey from ordinary to great. Midnight Publishing also offers self-publishing consultation, query letter editing, graphic and web site design, business copy writing and editing, and more.
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