You decide to write a book.
You realize how difficult it is to get an agent, let alone a main stream publisher to even look at your book.
You decide to …
It’s easy right?
I work with hundreds of self publishers every year, and am always surprised (and sometimes appalled) at how unprepared so many of them are.
From disastrously hideous book covers to spelling mistakes ON the book cover. From inappropriate category choices to keyword stuffing, from inside formatting that is sure to result in book returns, to descriptions that don’t sell.
I KNOW how easily it can happen. You decide to write and book and dive right into it. Along the way you “know” how fabulous your book is and “know” it could be a best seller. You have NO idea what becoming a self publisher means or what it involves. You think that writing the book is the main job of a self-publisher — WRONG!
You may have purchased a course. The thing is … in order to sell the course the writer has to make it look EASY. So they forget to tell you that getting reviews pretty well equates to having all your teeth pulled at the same time. They forget to tell you that all your friends are going to disappear … and your mother might disown you.
Marketing? What’s THAT? Selling? These are NOT dirty words!
Things To Do BEFORE You Hit The Self Publish Button
Here are the most important steps you need to take to make sure everything is in place–as perfect as you can get them BEFORE you hit the self publish button. Some of these are really easy and only take minutes … others? Take a bit more work … just work through them methodically, setting aside 10 – 60 minutes a day to get it right!
And YES, if you have already hit the self publish button … most of these can be fixed … even days, months or years later.
Book Contents: Grammar
Bad Grammar can absolutely KILL your books sales starting on day one. Make too many errors and you may end up with grammar complaints and one-star reviews. With the fabulous and inexpensive grammar programs available, there is NO excuse for loads of typos and poor grammatical construction. I have seen spelling and grammar errors in Book TITLES, in the books description and inside the book itself.
Book Contents: Formatting
Most people don’t even notice the inside layout and formatting of a book when it is done right. Done wrong and they will definitely notice. I have NOT purchased books because of formatting messes found when using the “inside look” feature. I have returned books when discovering bad formatting after my purchase. You can really see the range of downright beautiful to downright dysfunctional formatting in both children’s books and cookbooks. There are easy ways to format and there are formatting templates available … so pay attention to YOUR formatting.
Inside Your Book
Many authors miss out BIG time by not using the space inside their books to help sell the book itself, to link to their website and/or newsletter, to ask for reviews AND to sell the next book in a series, or other books in their publishing library. Here are a few things to think about and DO …
Inside Book: The 10% Look Inside Feature
Amazon’s Look Inside Feature can really add to your sales (it can also kill a sale … see grammar and formatting). Amazon shows 10% of the content of your book. If you have a really short book, don’t waste this space with legal stuff and dedications. Some very smart author have this figured out how to use this space to make SURE you buy their book! Did you know you can actually “fudge” this 10% and show a bit more?
Inside Book: Table of Contents
Whenever I consider purchasing a non-fiction book I look at the Table of Contents to help make my decision. If the book doesn’t have one, I rarely buy it. In fiction books a five page Table of Contents with just Chapters One to One Hundred is totally unnecessary. Turn the TOC builder OFF.
Inside Book: Link To Your Website OR Your Newsletter
Adding a paragraph or two at the beginning of your book, inviting people to visit your website or join your newsletter is SMART. Visitors can actually click on the links and go there whether they decide to buy your book or not.
Inside Book: Ask For A Review
Make sure you ask for a review at the end of your book … just after readers have finished and are (hopefully) feeling happy about your book. Many authors also put a short “ask” at the beginning of the book, planting the subliminal idea of writing a review at the start and then reinforcing it with another “ask” at the end.
Inside Book: Sell Your NEXT Book
If you have more than one book, or a series of books, or even multiple series of books, be sure to list them at the end of your book. If someone loves your book they will be very inclined to buy MORE just after they have finished and are looking for their next read.
Together with the cover, potential buyers make up their minds on whether YOUR book interests them or not. You have less than 3 seconds as their eyes scan over your book. If they are interested they may stop and click on your book’s thumbnail. Lucky YOU and I really mean that. Amazon and other vendors show their viewers dozens of books at a time. If someone actually stops and looks you’ve achieved step one of the buying process.
So why are titles so important?
A Powerful Book Title Attracts Attention And SELLS
People will take a three second look at your cover and decide whether or not they will keep looking. There are some truly hideous and boring book covers lurking about … there are also some truly amazingly covers too!
Category and Keyword Choices
There are some “self proclaimed” gurus out there with some really stupid advice about choosing categories that don’t even remotely fit the book. Don’t listen to them. Choose your main categories carefully … then once your book is published, go back and pick more. Not many authors know this can be done … keep it a secret!
Keyword stuffing became a Google NO NO over ten years ago. YES, use keywords. Leave the stuffing for turkeys.
It’s labeled a “description” so buyers think they are reading what the book is all about. When you self publish a book you need to understand that this is your SALES page. Use it to the max and use it wisely. Use it to SELL your book.
Price, Promotions and Pricing Strategies
Right now book pricing is totally haywire. In some cases you can purchase a 30o+ page book from a New York Times best selling author for less than you can get a 36 page book (pamphlet) from a totally unknown writer with questionable writing skills. The question is … would YOU go into a bookstore and plunk down $20 for a 36 page pamphlet? If you say yes, then you are probably one of those instant billionaires they are writing about inside that 36 page “How To Be A Billionaire In Less Than 30 Days” book!
Main stream publishers such as Harper Collins spend megabucks in $$ and staff time getting reviews. Go to a bookstore and open a book … maybe your favorite Romance or Thriller author … and you’ll often see pages of reviews. This did NOT happen accidentally and is one of the reasons it can take a publisher more than a year to release a new book.
Unfortunately YOU have to do this job all by yourself. The sooner you start lining up reviews the better. Here’s how to get started before your book is published.
ONE way to set up your funnel for reviews is to use your Social Media platforms to ask for BETA READERS. One you have established “a relationship” with your Beta Readers Team it will be easy to ask them to help with reviews just before your book is published.
Write Your Author BIO
If this is your first book, you have to wait until you hit the publish button before you can set up your author central page. The first thing that goes on your author central page should be your Author BIO and a photo. Write your BIO ahead of time, so you are not scrambling when you should be focused on other stuff (technical word).
Marketing Collateral is a collection of sales material that you will use to market your book. This includes long and short book descriptions, pre-written social media blurbs, images, banners, videos, interview blurbs and more. The more of this you can prepare ahead of time, the less panic you will encounter after publishing. You will need all of this for your Launch Team.
Set Up Your Launch Team
Small launch teams can help you spread the word using THEIR social media accounts. They should be prepared to read an ARC and post a review in the first few days after you publish.
Sheesh … bet you thought this list would NEVER end!
READY … SET … GO HIT THE SELF PUBLISH BUTTON!
Drink a glass of Champaign, celebrate a job well done …
Take A Deep Breath and … KEEP GOING
This is a short list (yes there is a longer list) of things you should do immediately after you publish.
Set Up Your Author Central Page
If this is your first book, you have to publish it BEFORE you can activate your Author Central Page. You already have your Author BIO ready, so we’re talking less than 10 minutes. This is truly the easiest thing about self publishing!
Social Media Posts – Newsletter – Blog posts
Many of these should already be in your Marketing Collateral pile. IF you are social media savvy you may already have them set up to be automatically delivered. If you have to do this manually, that’s OK too. We’ll learn about “auto” later.
Get Your Launch Team Working
Everything should already be set up … but be prepared to spend an hour or so a day encouraging your team, and helping them out if necessary.
Getting reviews is THE most important job of a self publisher. Set aside 10 to 30 minutes a day, EVERY day, for the life of your book. Get reviews! If you’ve done your ARC campaign properly and have added committed launch team members, the reviews should already be coming in. BUT hear this … NEVER STOP getting reviews.
Every single book you launch starts with no reviews … get used to asking. As you build your publishing library it DOES get easier. I promise!
The most important job you have as a self publisher is to get reviews!
GO … GET THOSE SALES … AND KEEP ON WRITING!