20 writing and marketing lessons any new author needs to learn

A particular event in my life gave me the push I needed to write my first book. I got my head down and started writing. The ink was literally flowing from the pen.

As my work progressed I was immensely proud of it. This book can’t fail to sell. My principal character, Graham Hope, will take his rightful place alongside Adrian Mole and Bridget Jones in the literary creations hall of fame. All I have to do is finish the book and the rest will just flow from the book’s undoubted brilliance.

How naive I was. 3 months on and I still hold the same optimism for my book but success will not come unless I work at it. Now is the time to start investing in my book.

So far I have learned 20 things that, if I published the book in my naïve state, would have doomed my masterpiece to the ignominy of internet obscurity, of languishing at number one million and something on Amazon’s ‘best’ sellers list.

New authors take note!

Write a good book
This tip should go without saying but having read a few stinkers from self-published authors, it has got to be the first step in your strategy of becoming an established author. How do you ensure that you write a good book?

1) Know your audience. Are you writing for children, for teens, for men, for women, for fetish-obsessed nymphos or for yourself and your family? You pretty much need to know this up front as it will affect everything you write, the path that the book takes, the way it is presented and how it is marketed. I am writing for adults who like a laugh and to read about relationships, their trials and tribulations.

2) Read writing style tips but don’t get bogged down with them. You need to have your own writing style but it needs to sing quality rather than screaming shoddiness.

3) Don’t rush to publish. If you are like me you will be impatient and want instant stardom. But sit on your work for a while. Take a break from it and then go back to it. New ideas will hit when you think you are through with your work. Time will improve it. I was originally hoping to publish in the autumn but this was overly optimistic.

4) Get it professionally edited. I am waiting for ‘Six Months to Get a Life’ to come back from my editor so you never know, I might change this advice in the next week but everyone tells me how much value a professional edit adds to even a quality piece of work.

5) Get some independent reviews before you turn your baby over to the masses. I haven’t done this yet but I will.

6) Write a good book blurb. Sarah Juckes, writing in the Alliance of Independent Authors (Alli) blog provides some helpful advice.

Get your book in front of the people who might buy it
There are a million books out there. Your book will only sell itself if people get to hear about it.

7) Think social media – and at least 6 months before the book is published. I now know that thousands of authors exist across the world. They are all tweeting endlessly about their books. I know as I follow half of them and am now frantically trying to filter out their drivel. I wonder how many tweets result in book sales. The idea is to get the book into a prospective buyer’s subconscious so that when they see it on one of the e-book selling websites, they will take more notice than they otherwise would have done. JJ Toner, again on the Alli blog, has shared some helpful social media tips. I am @benadamsauthor on twitter by the way if you want to follow me.

8) Create an ‘author platform’. As an avid reader I have never once looked at an author’s website. I am told that other readers do so I am getting a website. I may just be a mug. Include prominent links on your website to where people can buy your book.

9) Think SEO. A month ago I had never heard of SEO. I now just about know what it stands for but still have lots to learn. It seems to me as though the more you appear on the web in a relevant place and the more people look for you, the easier it will be for them to find you. But I have more reading to do on this one!

10) Everything I read about being a new author talks about the importance of authors networking with each other. Review each other’s books; exchange writing and marketing tips; meet each other at events. I don’t doubt that this is helpful but it takes a lot of time. I could spend all day reading about what fellow authors are doing on Goodreads if I didn’t discipline myself. I am going to join the Alliance of Independent Authors as they look like they have some great resources.

11) Think paid advertising, particularly on book websites. I am still learning about this. Other authors’ tips are proving particularly insightful.

12) Read copy editing tips on how to write paid advertising. I haven’t done this yet but I will.

13) Try out different advertising campaigns. Some will work better on your target audience than others. Not everyone will respond to the same triggers as you.

14) Think tactically about genres. In my naïve state a few months ago I wouldn’t have had a clue that picking the wrong genre on an e-book site could doom your book to the dusty recesses of the amazon e-showroom. Pick the wrong genre and no one will see your book.

15) Get a distinctive cover – one that stands out in a thumbnail on a book selling website. I don’t have the arty farty know-how to make my own cover so I have paid for this service.

16) I have bought a package that includes promotion by a book publicist. I jumped straight in and am hoping it will reap rewards. Does being featured on obscure radio shows and in bookish publications sell books? We shall see, unless of course the publicist doesn’t even manage to get me on to the obscure radio show.

Make it easy for people to buy your book
You can draw a horse to water but how do you get it to drink?

17) I have been advised to get the book on all the relevant book-selling websites and use print on demand. At first I had thought I would just use Amazon’s e-book creator and do it myself but I haven’t ended up going down that route because I prefer to write rather than to fiddle with templates.

18) Do adverts specific to the various different e-readers. If I have a Nook I am not going to want to click on an ad that takes me to Amazon.

19) I must have miscounted. Sorry, I did mention that I am an author and not a mathematician didn’t I?

Next week I will give you a bit more of a flavour of Graham Hope, as well as hopefully telling you what my editor had to say.

I say this with some trepidation but f you are an author and would like to tell me what else I have got to learn, feel free to leave a comment below.

Ben

One thought on “20 writing and marketing lessons any new author needs to learn

  1. mattjohnsonauthor July 21, 2014 / 2:30 pm

    Excellent post, all too familiar to many of us methinks. Some good tips.

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