When it comes time to make the decision about publishing path, too often indie writers overlook the fundamentals until the lack of foundation feels overwhelming. Once overwhelmed, the situation doesn't get any better. For this year's Colorado Gold, I put together a list of things to do - and the sequence I believe makes the most sense.
Here's my checklist*:
These are the things you probably didn't think about while you were writing your book.
- Hang out a shingle. Get the URL and establish a website. Your website is the place where you gather fans. Set up a shell so you have a place to link to when you need it. Don’t worry about content there yet.
- Set up a mailing list. Your mailing list is the one channel you have that goes directly to your audience. Don't abuse it. Mailchimp is your friend. Start an account and add their signup widget to your website.
- Write your author bio. Make three versions – 50/100/300 words long. Don’t recite the facts. Tell a story. Add them to a page on your website (often labeled "Press Kit") so you can find them again when you need them.
- Get a photo of your face. Professional is good, but a selfie that says “Hi there!” will do at this stage. Add it to your "Press Kit" page
- Get a Twitter account. Use the short bio and the headshot. You'll use this to talk with readers.
- Get a Facebook account. Use the medium bio and the headshot. You'll use this to talk with readers and writers (via closed groups)
- Get a Google+ account. Use the long bio and the headshot. You'll use this to talk with writers.
- Put the links to all three on your website.
- Decide if you want to play in any other gardens.
- Begin cultivating your network of peers
A lot of these things need more than a week to do. My editor asks for a month to work her magic. I only give my betas three days. I've bundled these together because you can't really get ahead in the process until you've done all these things. While you're waiting, you could start the next book and reach out to indie authors in the niche you're about to become part of.
- Pass your final manuscript to beta readers. First time authors find this difficult because they have no betas. (It's easy. Ask me how.)
- Decide how much of the feedback to incorporate. Just because they said it's a problem, doesn't mean you need to fix it.
- Pass your final manuscript to your editor. You'll need at least a copy editor. Plan for this.
- Decide on how much of the feedback to incorporate. Just because the editor noted it, doesn't mean you have to change it.
- Get the cover art
These are the "publish it" steps. There are a lot of different paths. Mine is more complicated because I'm fussy about the ebook formatting. I've taken the time to learn the skills necessary to publish the ebook in the format I want. In the beginning, I'd have done this if I could have. While I've labeled this week 2, it shouldn't take more than a morning.
- Get an account at Draft2Digital
- Upload your final manuscript but don’t publish it there
- Upload your cover art
- Download the resulting .epub file
- Get the Amazon Offline Previewer
- Open the epub with the previewer to convert to mobi.
- Decide what markets to participate in (Amazon, Nook, Kobo, iBook)
- Upload your files (cover and interior) to each one directly
After you've hit publish, there's not much you can do. Especially not with a first book. What you need to do is start the next one and work on your foundation.
- Profit. (not really)
- Work on growing your network of peers
- Join RMFW
I appreciate that this laundry list doesn't actually tell you everything you need to know - like what to do with your new accounts (play with the people you find there) or how to get people to sign up for your email list (I support the "one at a time" strategy as most valuable). One of the difficulties is that there are as many different ways to use social media as there are people.
Leave me a comment and I'll do my best to answer.
* The steps assume you're writing long-form fiction (novels) and have a completed manuscript in your hands. You can't get fans for a book you're going to write so having the manuscript done is a watershed event. Non-fiction authors may discover their process works a bit differently.
This post tries to answer the question "Now what?"Image Credit:Image Credit:cotaro70s: Everest Base CampCC BY-ND 2.0