There’s so much on the internet that tells you how to get yourself from being a writer to a published author, how to edit/revise/format your manuscripts and query letters but I’ve noticed a lack of information about what happens after you sign (either that or I'm missing it). The second you become a published author people expect you to know exactly what happens (sometimes even publishers) but that part of the journey is just as scary, and I have to admit for me it was more terrifying than waiting for a rejection.
I’ve done mini-posts on my blog which you can find under the ‘what I’ve learned so far’ tab, but there’s so much more to the whole process than that. Sure we’ve all heard about revisions and edits, but what about all the rest?
So, here’s my experience. I hope it helps first timers get over the initial shock.
First up, more waiting.
Yup, sucks but true. When I accepted my first contract I signed it, mailed it back, then waited. And waited. And waited some more. I was a nervous wreck for a week, didn’t have a clue what—if anything—I was supposed to do next. With all the internal drama I couldn’t focus on anything, couldn’t write, couldn’t stop myself from continually refreshing my inbox.
I eventually bit the bullet, emailed my publisher and asked what happened next. They were lovely, explained that first I’d be assigned an editor then have some forms to fill out for the cover art and blurb, etc and my editor would come back to me asap with edits. This made me feel so much better, so what I would say to those who ever find themselves in the same position. Ask. Yes, you feel like you’re being a pest and acting like the self-conscious author that you are, but for the sake of your sanity it’s worth it.
This is the way edits are done with most publishers. For those who don’t know it’s one of the editing tools in Microsoft Word. Luckily I use these a lot at work, so had an idea how to use them. But I didn’t have Microsoft Word on my laptop at home. I had to buy the program for edits. If you have it—great! Get practising. If not it’s worth investing in now so you can figure out how to use it.
Some publishers have private groups for their authors. They are a minefield of information which can often (especially at the start of your career) be scary as hell. Browse through the threads, read up on what you don’t understand, familiarise yourself with the promotion used by others. The hassle will be worth it come release day.
Sounds like a dirty word, and for many this is hard. It’s better to start building your platform early, because not only will those online friends buy your book, but some will offer to have you on their blog, re-tweet your promo posts to thier followers, share your Facebook status, maybe even review and recommend your book on Goodreads. It really does pay to be nice.
But beware, social networking is tricky not to mention a time suck. Do too much and you can come off as a serial spammer, do too little and it has no benefit.
I use Facebook the most, Twitter to catch up with fellow vampire lovers and blogger to rant about anything I fancy. I know people who do more, some who stick to just Facebook or Twitter and they make it work for them. The trick is to figure out what works best for you, what you’re more comfortable with and what sucks the least of your time. After all writing is more important than all of that. You can spend all day on social media chatting away, making friends, promoting your book, but the next one isn’t going to write itself.
Remember, keep banging away at those keys!
Host tours. Again, it’s time consuming but if you sign up as a host for author spotlights all you have to do is a simple cut and paste then pre-schedule. It’s better if you can take the time to do an interview or review (it drives more interest). The author you have visiting your blog will send their readers to you, so will the tour organiser and you can promote it yourself. Ultimately your name gains exposure, so does your upcoming release.
Another great way to build your platform and promote your upcoming book is to take part in blog hops. I’ve joined a few organised by Carrie Anne (you can visit her site here). Each time I’ve gained a few followers, my sales have shot up and I’ve had more views and comments on my blog than a month of posting regularly. It’s great exposure and these often have a grand prize of something like a nook or kindle which encourages people to come to you. Also, it’s very easy to join and set up.
To me this IS a dirty word, and a necessary evil. Sadly. I’d much rather spend my time chatting about the latest book I’ve read or pondering what’s going to happen on the next episode of TVD. That isn’t going to sell my books though.
First up, promotion should begin from the second you sign that contract. Chat about your book a little, show your cover when you have it, share juicy excerpts to intrigue your audience. This will create a buzz about your book and when you start to promote it on release day, those who remembered and liked your snippets will jump to read it. That stuff hooks me every time.
Next up, organising a blog tour. This is a good way to get the word out there about your book. Prices vary, but my favourites who I’ve used and host for are Shades of Rose Marketing and Tasty Blog Tours. You have the option of mixing interviews, guest posts, spotlights, giveaways and Tasty has some fantastic packages for blurb blitz tours, review tours, etc. It’s a small expense for exposure and with every release I’ve booked some form of tour. Even for my debut. Ah, the things you learn through author loops.
This should probably come under promotion but for my debut I didn’t buy any ads at all. I didn’t know if the expense was worth it.
But, I have to say with Isle of Sensuality I bought a Goodreads ad the minute it was live there and as it stands I have 17 ratings and 79 people have added it to their ‘to read’ list. I hope it leads to 79 sales, but can’t be sure. The good thing about Goodreads is you set your daily limit and bid, put in the maximum you’re willing to spend and you only get charged per click. You can target specific authors with Goodreads, target your audience and from my experience I’d do it again.
I also experimented with a Facebook ad which linked directly to Amazon. I had the Goodreads ad running at the time but from when my Facebook ad went live, I had 32 clicks in the first week (I put a very low limit in, 50p as my maximum bid per click) and my Amazon rank hovered between 19k and 60k.
The latest ad I’ve bought is with The Romance Studio and I’ve linked this to the ‘my books’ page on my blog so the reader can find out more, buy from the retailer of their choice if they are of a mind to and read the blurbs for my other books. I did this yesterday so I’ll let you know if it works out. It was only $7, which is about £4.68 over here. Not much at all really.
Summed up, this sounds easier to do than it actually is (or at least was for a scardy-cat like me). It’s very time consuming and while I was planning all the promotion for my debut, I was absolutely terrified about the reviews. This is something I’ll never be able to control, and after the release of my second book I’m feeling better about it. However, I’ve yet to receive a terrible review and I know I will at some point. What we have to remember is we can’t please everyone. I love reading across genres but there are some authors I can’t read (personal preference), some I can’t wait until their next story comes out. I’m not vocal about my preferences, but some people are which is fine. They paid for a product and if they aren’t happy, they have every right to say why. As authors, we love to see those four and five star reviews, the bad ones are the price we pay in exchange. But the bad reviews are opinions and from the reviews I've read elsewhere and agreed with, they can help us move forward and grow. (I mean the constructive reviews, not the 'do not buy this book it's crap' ones!).
I’ll be happy to answer any questions on the process from signing that contract to publication so ask away! :o)