Help! I wrote a book, now what do I do?
If you find yourself asking that very question, fear not. You’re in the right place!
First up, congratulations! Writing a book is a huge achievement.
Countless people have writing their own book high up on their bucket list. You’ve actually gone and done it. That in itself is superb.
However, would you believe me if I told you the hard part was only getting started?
I’ve spent a LOT of time around the author community. If I had a cup of coffee for every time I heard someone say “writing is the easy part!”, there would be no coffee left for you guys.
So what exactly should you do next? Let’s check out the nine steps to help make your book a real success.
Step 1 – Map Out Your Book Publishing Project
One of my favorite principles from Stephen Covey is to ‘start with the end in mind’.
This definitely applies to book publishing and marketing.
One of the major mistakes I see authors make is failing to consider all of the stages of their publishing project ahead of time.
While it might be tempting to ‘take one step at a time’, it’s an error.
Simply put, mapping out each and every stage is essential to staying on track, on schedule, and on budget.
Some advice for mapping out your book publishing project includes:
- Use a tool. It’s good to use something you’re already familiar with, if possible. Trello, Wunderlist, and Google Calendar are three awesome options.
- Don’t guess how long any given stage will take. If you’ve carried it out before, use that as your guide. If you haven’t, ask around your author community for advice.
- Consider the cost and the time needed for each and every stage. For example, you’ll need your book title when choosing your cover. Ensuring deadlines are stuck to keeps everything running smoothly.
Step 2 – Create A Financial Plan
Too many authors see themselves as pure artists. It’s fine to be artistic. But you also need to be entrepreneurial.
You’ve probably poured your precious time, not to mention your hopes and dreams, into your book. So why not give it the financial care it deserves?
Some of the financial considerations to keep in mind include:
- Which aspects of book creation will you have to pay for? Some possible costs include proofreading, editing, cover creation, and marketing services.
- What price point will you sell your book at? Check out your competitors if you aren’t sure how to price your work.
- What is the royalty rate you will receive? Depending on the marketplace you choose, and the price your book sells for, you will receive a certain royalty payment per copies sold.
- Based on the royalty rate for your book, how many copies do you need to sell to break even?
- What is your target profit for the book? How many copies will you need to sell per month to get there?
- What are the most suitable marketing methods to help you get to your target profit level?
Having a proactive financial publishing plan in place ahead of time will help you feel far more secure.
Whatever you do, don’t skip this step!
Step 3 – Consider Your Book Cover
Advice about covers almost always starts with some cheesy pun on the old saying about judging books. I won’t do that here!
Instead, I’ll absolutely hammer home the importance of your book cover. It is huge. It is your number one book marketing weapon.
I don’t care if you think your cover isn’t important. It is. End of story.
So how do you ensure your cover helps your book to succeed? Simple!
- Don’t reinvent the wheel. Your cover should signal to potential readers that they are in the right place. This is done by respecting genre or topic tropes such as images, colors, and font type.
- Make it impactful. Potential readers often browse online bookstores on mobile devices with small screens. Your cover needs to stand out on a small screen to have a chance of catching someone’s eye.
- Your cover is worth investing in. A bad cover will absolutely repel readers. An appropriate cover, on the other hand, will absolutely pay for itself, many times over.
You can either go the DIY route using a tool like Canva, or pay for a pro cover designer.
No matter which route you take, be sure to factor the cost into your book budget.
Step 4 – Figure Out Your Book Title
You could probably interchange the order of steps 3 and 4. Both your book’s title and cover must work in harmony with each other.
If you’ve written a fiction book, the title is likely to have something to do with a character or aspect of the plot. This is a little more subjective and personal.
Nonfiction titles, however, should be very clear and persuasive. The reader should know exactly what they are getting and how the book will help them.
Some book title considerations to keep in mind include:
- Uniqueness. Does someone else have a similar title? If so, it will be harder to make your book stand out.
- Cover suitability. How will your book fit with the images on your cover? Does it look good from a visual perspective?
- Sales copy. There are some proven structures you can use for your book title. You can also use sales copy tactics such as power words to entice readers to check out your work.
Your book’s title is absolutely essential. Don’t rush it and be sure to get trusted feedback on any ideas you are considering.
Step 5 – Plan For Reviews
In the modern world, book reviews are absolutely vital for your book’s success.
Your cover will help draw attention to your book. However, without good reviews, you won’t make any sales.
So how do you go about getting the reviews you need?
- Be sure to be ethical. Many marketplaces, such as Amazon, are incredibly strict about their review policy. Be sure to stay in compliance of it to avoid any unfortunate bans.
- Plan your reviews before launching. This could include sending out advance reader copies, submitting your book to review blogs, or hitting up a fellow author’s mailing list.
- Don’t sweat negative reviews. Negative reviews are one of two types. First, genuine, in which case be grateful for the useful feedback. Second, hateful, in which case they are not worthy of your worry.
- Consider pricing your book low or free close to the time of launch. This can help encourage readers to leave a review. Once you have a number of positive reviews, you can up your price.
Reviews are honestly beyond important in this day and age. Overlook them at your peril.
Step 6 – Plan Some Free Book Marketing
Time to look at every indie author’s least favorite topic – book marketing!
I honestly feel that most authors have an aversion to book marketing which is more due to their own limiting beliefs than any objective reality.
Yes, marketing can be tricky. Yes, it is outside the skill set of many authors.
However, there simply is no way around it.
Market your book well, or watch it die.
If you’re truly opposed to marketing, you need to have deep pockets, or reassess whether self-publishing is right for you.
Thankfully, you don’t have to break the bank to market your book. Some tried and tested free methods include:
- Book promotion sites. There are plenty of book promotion sites which will promote your work for free. Check them out!
- Book review sites. Two birds with one stone here. You’ll often reach the review site’s wide audience, while also getting an invaluable review for your book.
- Social media. Promote your book to a wide audience at a low cost with social media. Look for relevant reader groups as a starting point.
- Go offline. This could involve giving a book reading, visiting a local group, or even running an event at your library. You may be surprised how well this can work.
You absolutely need to engage in book marketing. Free options are a wonderful possibility while you’re just starting out.
Step 7 – Consider Your Book Advertising Opportunities
While free marketing is great, paid advertising often produces the best results.
Everyone is marketing for free. Plus, paid services have a better incentive to get you results.
So what are some of the most effective paid ways to advertise your brand new book?
- Amazon Advertising. Until recently, this was known as Amazon Marketing Services, or AMS. Now, it’s simply Amazon Advertising. It’s absolutely one of the best ways to get your book in front of the right readers. Other forms of paid advertising to consider include specialist offerings such as BookBub advertising.
- Facebook Advertising. Facebook has reach like almost nothing else. So many people on Earth use Facebook multiple times per day. When done properly, you can target very precisely on Facebook.
- Mailing lists. For a price, you can often access mailing lists of other authors or specialist author marketing services. Make sure the list you are paying for is relevant and has a good track record of results.
It might seem daunting to invest in paid book marketing, but it’s often well worth it.
My advice is to start small. Allocate a small budget to an Amazon Advertising campaign and scale up based on your results.
Step 8 – Monitor Your Book’s Performance
This step is absolutely important, but it’s vital to strike a balance. While you definitely want to monitor your book, you don’t want to become obsessive about it.
Some authors fall into the trap of clicking refresh on their sales report, hoping something will change.
So how should you monitor your book’s performance in a healthy and useful way?
- Check your sales regularly, but stick to the schedule. That could be once per day, or even once per week.
- If you notice a bump or dip in sales, try and find a cause. Was a certain review left? Did a blogger link to your book? You can take corrective action as needed.
- Make notes on what works in order to help your next project.
It’s vital to keep an eye on how your book’s going. Just don’t become too obsessed!
Step 9 – Plan Your Next Step
You wouldn’t want to chill out and rest on your laurels now, would you?
I sure hope not. After all, the author who stays hungry is the author who succeeds.
This truly is the step most related to ‘I wrote a book, now what’ although perhaps at this stage it’s more like ‘I wrote, published, marketed and monitored a book…now what?’.
Thankfully, you have a range of awesome options. Consider any of the following:
- Write a sequel. This can work for both fiction and nonfiction. A book series is one of the most lucrative paths an author can pursue.
- Research a new idea. Begin getting reader feedback and conducting market research to find your next brilliant book idea.
- Go all out on promotion. If your current book is performing well, you might want to see if you can boost its sales even further. Try appearing on podcasts, doing blog interviews, and making connections with fans and authors in the same genre or niche as yours.
Being an author is a little like a snowball. It can be slow to get going, but momentum builds and builds.
Keep on going and it will get easier over time.
I Wrote A Book, Now What – Final Thoughts
Thank you so much for reading this far!
If you’re in the position where you’ve written a book, I hope you now have a clear, step by step process telling you what to do next.
You’re sure to make mistakes as you go. However, it’s all a learning curve.
I wish you the absolute best of luck in your book release. What an exciting time to be you!