In the olden days (like 10 years ago, hee hee), it was virtually impossible to publish unless you had an established following.
In Christian publishing (my background), that meant that you had a TV evangelism show on a religious network or even a mainstream one. Traveling preachers had a decent shot at a steady-selling book as well, since they could generally set up a book table and sell some books wherever they spoke.
Unsolicited manuscripts came in by the dozen. On occasion, a dedicated editor would sift through the dusty stacks to try to find the “diamond in the rough” – the outstanding manuscript that just HAD to be published, the one that was good enough to maybe, possibly break even. There was the ever-present hope of finding a “one in a million” unsolicited manuscript that would actually make money or become a bestseller. Publishers had very little incentive to take a chance on spending thousands of dollars on an untested author or book idea, no matter how wonderful it sounded.
Many publishing companies are still stuck in this model. Some of the more progressive ones are now asking their authors for development money up front (semi self-publishing) or a commitment from the author to purchase x amount of books on first printing. That way, both publisher and author are taking on a portion of the risk.
Fast forward to today.
With ebooks, it is possible to publish without a platform. Heck, I did it myself. My little DIY EPublishing book has sold over 50 copies so far, in less than 2 weeks. On just 1 platform, Amazon. See my real-world results here: http://ebookconverting.com/kindle-select-real-world-results. This is well beyond what I expected. I see a lot of books that sell 1-2 books/month.
I have essentially no platform, so, how did I do it? The key is to build a platform, quickly…through social media, your website, friends, etc.
Here’s what to do, 60-90 days before your projected book release date:
Step 1: Set up a Facebook Page for you or your topic (if non-fiction). This page is different from your personal profile. Invite your friends & family to join you and let them know what you’ll be talking about.
Step 2: Set up a WordPress blog where you can talk at length about yourself, your book project, and life in general. Link the blog to Facebook and vice-versa. For your web address, it’s best if you can get your name. That way, as you publish more books, people can find you via your name vs. via a specific book. This makes you more versatile.
Step 3: Set up a Twitter account. This should also be your name, but could be your topic/niche if you’re writing non-fiction.
Now that you have steps 1-3 set up, it’s time to talk about your book. Your goal is interaction in all 3 areas. Talk about your writing process…character development…why you’re writing…what inspires you…favorite books, movies, etc. Talk about LIFE. You want people to connect with you on a personal level…you’re making friends.
Step 4: Identify your cover designer. Get on their waiting list, ASAP.
30 days before your book release:
- Start building excitement in your social media and blog about the upcoming book release. Talk about the process of publishing & all the things you’re doing to get it ready.
- Get your cover finalized.
- Get the ebook converted and set up your distribution outlets. Pay close attention to Kindle Select. You can build huge momentum by using Kindle Select and free book days. If you use Kindle Select, do NOT use any other outlet until your 90 days with Kindle Select is over. Don’t even sign up with the others until your 90 days is over.
- If you’ll be going to print, get the book interior designed. Investigate whether you’ll be using CreateSpace (preferred, link: https://www.createspace.com/Products/Book/), Lightning Source, or a traditional printer (best option if you need 500+ copies of your book printed at one time).
2 weeks before your book release:
- Continue building excitement in your social media channels.
- Double-check the formatting of your ebook to make sure it’s doing what it should.
- Make sure your cover is final FINAL. : ) Covers have a tendency to drag on…
- Consider paid advertising, like Facebook Ads or Twitter Ads to further build your platform. This is fun – as people see your passion and excitement, they’ll be attracted to you. This has a ripple effect to their friends.
1 week before your book release:
- You should feel confident at this time that your book will be releasing on the day you expect. Start building excitement for that day. If you’re using Kindle Select, be aware you can schedule free book days 24 hours in advance. That means if you release your book on the 15th, the first available free day is the 16th. Consider a “soft release” on the 15th, then when it’s free, be sure to talk it up.
- Continue building excitement about your book throughout the week….count it down with your FB and Twitter friends.
- Look for Kindle book lists you can advertise through, either on a free or paid basis. I have a couple suggestions here: http://ebookconverting.com/kindle-select-real-world-results
Day of book release/Free day:
- You *can* start talking about your book the day it releases…unless you’re planning a free day the next day. If it’s FREE the next day, that’s the day to talk about it. Free is GREAT, by the way. Your download volume, even on free days, will push your book higher in the rankings. Higher rankings = higher paid sales.
- Tweet at least 6 times on your release day/free day, and every day after that until you get sick of yourself! (Ha, just kidding…sort of). It’s ok to tweet often. Talk about your book (paid or free) at least once per day.
- Let your Facebook Fans know it’s free and let them in on what it’s like to have gone through the process. I like to think of my FB group as an inner circle of friends who gets to know more than everyone else. Letting them know about your book is ok once per day or so. Info sticks around for longer on FB than on Twitter.
Your ebook/print book has a longer shelf life than in traditional publishing. This is great news! That means you don’t have to worry about a magical 3-month sales window, after which all print copies will be returned to the publisher. Your books can stay on the virtual bookshelf until they’re sold. And it’s up to you to sell them.
This is why a publishing platform is so powerful. In weeks 2, 3, and beyond, you can casually insert information about your book into your social media channels. You can talk about book sales or reader feedback. Hey, you can even continue to build your following for your next book! When you go through this process once, I can almost guarantee you’ll like it so much you’ll want to epublish again.
So, did I answer all your questions? (Doubtful!) If not, let me know what I’m missing, and I’ll cover it in a future installment. Happy writing to you today!