Give Yourself Success: Grow Awareness & a Fanbase BEFORE You’re Published!
62 Considerations & Actions to Take Whilst Writing or Editing Your Book to Improve Awareness and Fanbase Building Possibilities
With more writers becoming independently published, there’s a larger need to stand out whilst doing everything you can to make readers aware of you. You need a plan, actionable steps, to do this without damaging what you have achieved already, or even the day before.
It’s even better when we (independently publishing or traditionally) start promoting our books before they’re even released. This is something I did with The Royal Gift, and any of us can do this whilst writing our stories, no matter if we plan to self-publish, approach agents or head straight to the traditional publishing houses.
NOTE: I’ll be updating this resource for the first time as I launch Threat, book two of The Common Kingdoms Series later this year (2016). The updates may include videos, whoot! If you would like to subscribe to my Writers’ Club, please do so from the sidebar or subscribe page – this will ensure you get on the new email list which is sent out with Aweber, not Mailchimp. Links below will be updated soon, and the intro emails will send the offered extras mentioned below.
1 Make it as Great a Story as you can.
Writing that is shared leaves an impression. If it’s a good one, you may gain a reader that picks up every one of your books, paying the same day they are released. If it’s bad, you’ll never convince that reader your books are worth a second glance, and they may also leave a trail online where they state their opinion of your not-great story. We need to ensure that we have done what we can to strengthen our protagonists, antagonists, secondary characters, plot and worlds to be the best they can be, and make sense to the reader.
- 3 Tips to Make Your Female Protagonist More Realistic
- Building a World: Basic Concepts
- Worldbuilding Wednesday: Current Currents!
2 Pick Your Best Way (by hand, Scrivener, Google Docs, Novlr)
To be able to promote your book and build your fanbase, you need to make continuous progress on it. With stop-start writing, you are developing a bad habit to also stop-start your efforts to build awareness and grow your fanbase. Back in my early years of writing, when I was a teenager, I wrote several of my books by hand and would then later type them up as the “second draft”. These days I use Google Drive (though Novlr has been wooing me). Google Drive means I can write no matter where I am, as long as I have an internet connection and a smart device or laptop with me.
If you don’t know which is the best option for you, experiment. One week do it all by hand, the next on Scrivener, GDocs or Novlr. Then evaluate how much quality writing you got done on each.
- Keeping Track of Your HandWritten Novel’s Parts (WRPGs.net article, coming soon)
- Google Drive
- Microsoft Word/Office
3 Don’t Worry about how Long to Make your Story, just Focus on the Contents (Characters, World and Storyline).
When I first started planning this article, Lou Yardley tweeted to Novlr this:
Ok, Twitterverse. What would you say is the ideal length for a novel? Any thoughts?
I answered, as did several others. (See the whole conversation here.) A few of us answered with the lengths their contracts needed or that they had read or been told what the ideal length was. This was my answer:
As long as the characters and plot need, is my rule (and then a structural edit by my editor afterwards).
The reason for my answer is:
If you’re serious about writing and publishing, an editor will crawl over your manuscript at least twice, and you’ll be making edits depending on their suggestions. That means the first draft isn’t a good judge of the length of your novel, nor the second. It’s after you’ve done all those edits and two rounds with your editor that you’ll have a true judge of length (you can always do a third round after that for the additional line-edits).
Why is this important to take into consideration and to action when working on promoting your book and building your fanbase before you’re published? Because it’s that continuous progress again – you need to make time for your project, no matter the length. Whether this is by committing to 1000 words a day minimum, more or less, you need to carve time out to make this happen, and to add extra time for any promotional pieces you will be writing. There’s also the issue that if you are worrying over the word length of your book, that’s going to affect your writing, which will affect those first impressions.
4 Save Yourself Time Later by Finding a Structural & Line Editor Before You Need Them
This may sound crazy, but when I went hunting for an editor for The Royal Gift, I was excited. I was also excited to hear their feedback. An editor has one of the most important tasks on your book project – helping to improve it and make it awesome. They can do this in two ways: a structural edit, where they pick apart the characters, world and plot and give you suggestions for improvement, and the line-edit where they help sort out your sentence structure, misspellings, typos and tense.
Having them working with you also means that you save time – you don’t have to do years of endless revisions and complete rewrites, because they help you to pinpoint exactly where to improve.
It’s not all tea and biscuits though. When looking, make sure that you know what sort of editor you’re after. When I was looking, I wanted someone professional, with proper editorial training (not someone who had simply studied English at university), and I definitely did not want someone who was a bit of an ass online (like one grammar Nazi editor I saw and crossed off my list).
There are a lot of cowboy editors out there, including some self-published authors who don’t have the proven/certified training. They do it for the extra income to support their projects and sometimes because they like to give back to other writers. If they have clients that they can list, who also back up their claims (somewhere) and the book doesn’t have reviews about bad or confusing sentences, typos and misspellings, then maybe they are OK.
Ask other authors you know (you are networking, right? If not, see further down). They will be able to recommend editors they have used, and you can even ask that they only suggest editors who live in the same country as you (perfect for us UK and US-based authors who get those reviews by readers in the other country telling us to learn to spell, when it’s just a case of English US VS English UK).
These were my full requirements:
- Trained professionally at a university in editing, not English Lang or Lit.
- Are recommended by at least two people.
- Are friendly and present online.
- Easy to contact (emails).
- Has their own website, preferably with a blog so I can judge their writing skill.
- Has their own domain (they’re putting their money where their mouth is and taking what they do seriously).
- They have testimonials.
- Are not a self-published author – they’re an editor full-time.
- Their rates are reasonable and within usual editorial charges.
Psst! Don’t think you do not need an editor if you plan to go the literary agent and traditional publishing route – you may wish to work with an editor before sending your manuscript to the agents to improve your chances of representation 😉
Find an editor before you’ve finished #writing | #writingtips #publishing Click To Tweet
- 10 Things Your Freelance Editor Won’t Tell You But Should
- How to Find the Right Editor
- How to Find an Editor for Your Book: 5 Crucial Questions to Ask
5 Get More Done by Finding a Way to Compete with Yourself so You Have More Time to Promote Your Book & Build Your Fanbase in Advance
Competing with yourself is a way to ensure progress in everything you do. One of the easiest ways to do this when working on building awareness and a fanbase before publishing your book is through goals and tracking your progress.
This doesn’t mean it has to become a personal NaNo. Ways you can do this is set a low word count and increase it by ten each day, or select a few days a week and a specific time when you’ll write, and then gradually increase the days or sessions of writing.
The way I do it is by tracking word count for the books I write (I don’t tend to track for articles, course content or fun pieces, the one exception being this article because I knew it would be HUGE). I use a Google spreadsheet to track the amount of words (this is easier now I type instead of writing by hand), which day, project and which chapters I have worked on. Each year I have to beat the previous year’s average word count per day and how many days a year I wrote for the books, but this is an unofficial goal – not one I beat myself over, or concentrate on too heavily.
That’s another thing about goals – don’t beat yourself up if you don’t manage it. Tomorrow’s a fresh start.
My goals are separated into six months, with a three month review. I decide on my big five goals, then give each month three smaller goals that feed into achieving the big five goals. Each day I am also required to do three tasks towards these goals. It’s surprisingly effective, and doesn’t take much effort. The reason for this is because it is laser-focused for action and results.
Find a way that works for you to achieve your goals, and keep reminding yourself of them as you go through the year.
For example, your big five as a writer planning on building awareness and a fanbase before your book is released may look like this:
- Create and grow an engaged email list (building a fanbase).
- Network effectively with other authors (building awareness).
- Finish the first draft of my book (getting the important bit done).
- Get an active website online (building awareness & fanbase).
- Publish by 14 December of this year (timeframe) .
With your first month’s mini-goals that feed into it looking like these:
- Write 30,000 words or 6 chapters of my book (getting the book done)
- Get web hosting and create my author site (building awareness and fanbase).
- Be more active and engaged with other authors on social media (building awareness and possibly fanbase).
- The Beginner’s Guide to Goal Setting
- Conquer Your Goals with Christine Campbell and Drae Box (coming soon)
- 6 Months to 6 Figures (book that focuses on goals)
Compete with yourself to get more writing done and build awareness. | #writing #writingtip #marketing… Click To Tweet
6 Find the Time to Commit to Promoting Yourself and Your Book, and Engaging with your Readers
Serious authors find the time to promote their books and build their fanbase, whilst simultaneously working on their next writing projects. Find a bit of time to write, and another bit of time every day to promote and build awareness of you, your book and to create and engage with a fanbase.
For example, when I first started aiming for results, the way I approach my goals helps a lot to create more productive time in each day (see above), but I also utilised my Fitbit Charge HR’s alarm feature. It would buzz everyday at 7PM as a reminder to check I had done my three tasks of the day. If I hadn’t, I could work towards one to three of the day’s tasks that would feed into my mini-goals for that month and up into my big five.
Another trick to this (especially if you are focusing a lot on using social media to promote awareness), is to limit your time on them. This allows you to remain focused on the task at hand – engaging with others and sharing useful content, content that promotes your writing and build awareness through others). The way I do it is to schedule my usual tweets such as links to my articles, articles by others I think are helpful and a few promotional tweets. I started off doing this with Tweetdeck, but continually having to add the tweets back in from my spreadsheet got dull very fast. I switched to MeetEdgar with the understanding that it would allow me to keep my content on rotation and at random, with the ability to add more if I wanted and keep images associated with the tweets. It would also keep doing it for Facebook pages, profiles and Linkedin. (I also fixed the issue I was having with my article alerts on Google Plus only be shared with me on automation, but I still have to reshare them by hand on a regular basis on G+).
Psst! I don’t recommend only using automation – every day, sometimes twice a day, I head to Twitter and engage with my some of my followers as well as those not following me that are using hashtags I’m interested in. It’s the same with my starting out on Facebook – I’ve joined groups and take part in those, and do almost nothing with my personal timeline.
7 Decide Early so You can Start Marketing Your Book: Pen Name or Real Name?
I decided to use a pen name, but only when I had made the decision to go ahead and make The Royal Gift accessible to others by publishing it independently with all the same care and attention a traditional publishing house would use.
By that point, Draebox had already been running for over a year and I had had the nickname of Drae for longer. I decided that I would take on the name of my brand and become Drae Box. It was also because my actual name is a bit too girly for me, and because nobody ever spells my first or last name right without already knowing my family.
There is no point building awareness if you’re going to change your name later on – people will get confused, and you’ll lose the fans you have gained if they can’t find you. This applies also to your website’s domain and any links that go to your old domain.
I once told somebody off for doing this and unsubscribed from their email lists. I had signed up for notifications for their new online project for entrepreneurs. It was an interest campaign, meaning that the online project was not fully operational yet. When I received their next email, I thought they had grabbed my email and added it onto the list for another project I didn’t know about. The project’s creator did email me back and apologised, explaining that they had changed the project’s name without notifying their subscribers. I stayed unsubscribed and also lost interest in the active project they had that I had been following for a good few months – they lost me as a potential reader, fan and customer.
Pick your pen name and try and choose one that people are more likely to remember and spell correctly. Build your awareness and get familiar to your future fans using this name. You can be honest and let people know you are using a pen name too – there’s nothing wrong with that.
Pen name or real name? Decide whilst #writing so you can promote early. | #writingtips #marketing… Click To Tweet
8 Create Your Website so You Have Online Headquarters
If you don’t have a website, readers can get lost trying to find you. A few months ago, I asked a community of authors if any of them would like to write guest articles on Drae Box Books. Part of my process of approval was to see what their writing was like before I accepted those who were interested. Two of the authors didn’t have a website, and one of them had a Tumblr where they just reshared stuff.
Show potential readers some of your work (add a note if it is not the final draft), give them a page to go to for all the information on your book, and start curating an email list. Having a website is like having a headquarters of operations for building awareness of you and your book, and for building your fanbase before you publish (and after) your book. This is what I did with Drae Box Books too – I started it a year before publication, and by the time The Royal Gift was published, I had an average of 310 visitors to the site per day. That may not be all that impressive to some, but would it make you more curious to know that the page for my book was the second most popular page and sometimes bypassed the about page? That’s a good chunk of potential readers, and it showed with how quickly The Royal Gift raced up the top free Sword and Sorcery books on Amazon until it reached #2 in the UK and #3 in the US. It hasn’t quite managed to secure first place yet, but there’s hope yet. At the time of writing this section of this article, it has bobbed back down to #5 and #7 three months after release – still pretty good (and if I really wanted I could help it climb back up)!
I recommend using WordPress (.com or .org – you can move your content over easily enough between them). Many hosting providers (including the three below), have easy installation using script installers such as Softaculous which can install, automatically update and backup WordPress installations. With just a few clicks and letting it know what you want the site to be called, you can have your site up and running in a matter of minutes.
- Bigwetfish Hosting
- Draebox Web Services
- WRPGs.net (free “lite” version of Draebox for authors)
- Moving Your WordPress.com Site to (a Self-hosted) WordPress
9 Build Brand Awareness, a Location and Reason for Your Readers to Keep Remembering You by Starting (and Continuing) to Blog
Blogging is a tried and proven way to grow your fanbase and to build awareness of your brand and products/books. Various people online suggest writing about what you are passionate about, and sharing your work in progress or advance sneak peeks of your novel.
To determine how best to blog, you need to create the idea of one person in your mind (often called an avatar). That’s the person you hope will come to your site over and over again, love what you do, buy everything you offer and promote you because they support you. Combining it with SEO (tip: it’s not just keywords anymore) and social media will bring in new potential readers, fans and active supporters.
Determine the combined mission or goal of each article you publish. Is it to entertain your potential future fans and readers? Is it to educate other writers? Share your experiences when you’re travelling, or something else? Decide on your mission and who you would like to find your blog, and then write great content for them.
- How to Start a Blog when You Have No Audience
- 7 Crucial Tactics for Writing a Wildly Successful Guest Post
- Blogging Gone Bad: 7 Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make
- How to Build Your Platform in 30 Minutes a Day (Video)
- 101 Ways to Promote Your Blog & Get Visitors
10 Become SEO-Savvy and Apply it to Your Blog Articles to Grow Awareness by Increasing the Chance of Someone Finding You Whilst Searching Online
SEO stands for search engine optimization. As long as you can keep ahead of Google’s constantly changing requirements to hit the top spots for specific searches, you’ll do well and be found in the searches. Thankfully, there’s loads of amazing people sharing their knowledge online for SEO. It starts with keywords, but these days, it doesn’t end there. It now includes linked similar words to your keywords, long-tail phrases, better content and better headings (as well as other things). I’m constantly learning from Brian Dean since discovering him.
11 Decide if Your Marketing/Awareness Building Efforts are Aimed at You and Your Brand, or Just Your Book
If you don’t know what you’re building awareness of, you’re screwing yourself over later on.
There are three things you could be working on building awareness of. These are: you, your book or your brand.
Your brand is everything you slap your name onto. This is the thing I focus my marketing onto. This is in part because Draebox already existed as the hub of the web services I provide before I adopted my pen name Drae Box to combine my books with my brand (and the writer reasons above on #7).
You don’t have to do it that way though.
Soman Chainani, author of The School for Good and Evil series, and any advisors he had, did an amazing job of creating awareness around the books, starting with the website, and ending with the amusing Youtube Channel Soman and his friends run.
Promoting/building awareness of your books means you take a backseat – this means that future releases that aren’t connected may be missed by everyone but your hardcore fans (assuming you earned some hardcore fans).
Unless you do what JK Rowling did when she tried to do something other than Harry Potter and used pen names. She moved on to announcing she was these pen names because they weren’t doing as well as someone would have liked. Or perhaps this was a strategy in the first place, but uh, people are going to notice if you continue doing something like this more than once. It’s not always good things said when that happens either.
Promoting or building awareness of yourself can be a tad more tricky – what do you say? How do you go about spreading the word? Twitter users certainly aren’t that interested in what you had for breakfast (though Pinterest food board followers may be).
So what do you do if you don’t know which to do?
Head to your books or ebooks and find three to nine authors who write for the same target audience you do, and that you enjoyed. Head online and see what they’re doing on Twitter, their website and Facebook to determine which way they’re doing it. Determine if you could do the same sort of thing as them, then start putting it into practise.
Before you publish, decide which way you’ll build awareness. | #writing #marketing #books Click To Tweet
- The Complete Guide to Building Your Personal Brand
- The 4 Essentials to Building Your Brand on Social Media
- The School for Good and Evil
12 Experiment with Social Media
If you’ve followed my articles on Drae Box Books for a while, you’ll know I tend to focus on just two social medias – Twitter and Google Plus. These are the two I enjoy and have (over time and research) gotten the hang of using.
Why social media:
It gives your potential readers (and your blog’s readers) a place to interact with you on a one-to-one basis, without it feeling like a big deal.
There’s several social media options these days though, and more being created all the time. A few of them include: Blab, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, G+, Pinterest, Periscope and Tumblr.
When you start off using them, find people who you either already know and like (people you enjoy chatting with for example, or look up to) or people you would like to get to know or that share something you love (like writing tips).
Interact with them, but also make sure to share some of your own content. Don’t ever ask people to, “check out my book.” Eurgh. Salesman much? No thanks (though there is a way to do it without being yucky – see further down)! The best way to be good is to:
- Do your research for the platforms you like (but don’t spend more than a day on it – just do enough to get started and look into it again once you’re settled in and want to increase your sought outcome).
- Know your goal for using it. Mine on Twitter and Google Plus are: build awareness of what I do, help others and network to create new friends and professional contacts.
- Don’t use the default image for your avatar/profile.
- Promote others, share your blog articles that are helpful to others, and interact with those you are following.
- Don’t follow anyone who just follows you – figure out if they A) are interesting to you and B) if they want to interact with you or just want a follow-for-a-follow (another ew of social media).
- Don’t expect huge results straight away – unless you’re already a social media expert, you’ll have to become one, and your results will grow inline with your knowledge, which has to regularly be aware of new ideas for how to use social media.
- Adapt and experiment as needed.
- Don’t Just get More Facebook Fans – Get the RIGHT Kind
- Always Up to Date Social Media Image Sizes Guide
- 14 Twitter Tips to Take Your Tweets to the Next Level
- The Internet is a Zoo – the Ideal Length of Everything Online
- Michael Hyatt’s Top 10 Hacks to have More Twitter Followers (Video)
- Google Plus & Twitter for Authors & Entrepreneurs
- Building Your Platform – Social Media for Authors
- Using Pen Names on Facebook
Find the #socialmedia you like to build awareness of your books and meet your readers! Click To Tweet
13 Settle in at Specific Social Medias you like (& That Your Target Readers Love).
Once you’ve found the two or three social medias for you, make sure that your target audience are actually there – if you’re promoting to the wrong people, you won’t build your brand awareness or find your potential fans and readers.
Stay consistently active every day or every other day, and engage with others that follow you a few times a week.
Another part of this is to let people know if they like you’re content, that you have an email list (explained further down). Something like, “If you like my articles, you may enjoy my email list [link].” That link should go to a page on your site with more information about why somebody would want to subscribe.
I also do this to promote awareness of the Draebox web services and the WRPGs.net podcast and articles, like these two:
A new #podcast for #authors and forum-based RPG creators coming soon – https://t.co/87KD8nj8kM
Did you know I’ve been providing web #hosting to play-by-post RPGs since 2012, #authors & #entrepreneurs since 2013? – https://t.co/BzJCgp2Hwk
14 Join Online Writers’ Communities and Forums to Meet Other Writer-Readers
Every writer is also a reader (except one author I met, but generally this rule applies to the majority of us). It’s also nice to meet other writers and get to know them. There are many benefits including networking and cross-promotion, and very few downsides. Google Plus has an amazing choice of writing communities, and I hear Facebook does as well.
Be aware though, that you need to be careful picking a community – you don’t want one that has so many people in it, that it is no longer moderated well. Ideally, you want to find a community of more than one hundred, but less than eight hundred, which is active on a daily basis and whose members engage with one another. Otherwise you may find one that just shares their, “buy my book,” cries, and nobody wants to get spammed in the face.
Nobody wants to get spammed in the face. | #writing #marketing #communities Click To Tweet
- Should Writers be in Online Writer Communities? The Pros and Cons
- (My new) Google Plus Community: Writers & World Creators Network
15 Network with Other Writers
The more writers you know, the higher your chance of success. Networking is meeting others (online or offline) and becoming friends with them professionally or personally. Preferably both! The key to networking is expecting nothing in return, but being hopeful and excited that you’ll support each other and be friends. This is another reason why online writing communities are so great – you can meet more writers than you may ever do in your home town. This was definitely the case for me – I created a meetup group for fiction writers in 2015, and everyone who was coming came from the next town or further afield and we always maxed out at three writers per event. Whilst online, I met just shy of fifty writers in 2015 that I consider a friend these days and am in regular contact with. This also helps with cross-promotion (covered further down).
16 Take it Seriously: Put Your Money Where Your Pen Is (AKA – start putting money down or saving for things the book needs – book cover, editor fees, blog tour organisers etc)
Even those planning to traditionally publish may want to do this, in case later on they independently publish and then use their successes there to entice and capture contracts with literary agents and traditionally publisher. If a writer plans to publish a book or more a year, there needs to be a saving plan in place, especially if they want to take it seriously and create a book that is treated with the same professionalism as a traditionally published book. Producing one book can cost £500-£600 (in USD, that’s $726 – $872), and there is no promise that money will make it’s way back to you for even a year or two later. That’s not including the electric bill, stationary or your time either.
Saving up in advance will mean that the money is there when you need it, or can be used to further boost your book’s awareness by being used on promotional options that cost, such as Bookbub.
Saving up for a great product is just like spending on a hobby. | #writing #publishing #marketing Click To Tweet
17 Learn Your Future Possibilities
Learning the differences, advantages and negatives of independently or self-publishing versus traditional publishing can take time. If you learn about it in advance (including the experiences of successful and less successful independently published authors), that gives you more time to just get on with building awareness and growing your future readerbase. It also means that you know who you will need to persuade first if you’re going the traditional or hybrid route of publishing.
18 Keep Researching how to Promote Your Book and Other Areas that will Aid Your Being A Successful Author
No one article has every answer, and resourceful authors are always experimenting and coming up with new ideas to grow awareness and their engaged readers. Sometimes the best way to find out new ways to promote your book or grow awareness and the size of your readers’ circle is to check out, and even ask, other authors what they are doing, as well as finding articles like this one.
Resourceful authors are always experimenting. | #writing #marketing #promotion Click To Tweet
19 Find Podcasts Ahead of Time that may want you as a Guest
Podcasts have huge followings, because listening to them can be squeezed into our already busy lives. A perfect example is Entrepreneur on Fire. I LOVE that show. I have episodes downloaded onto my MP3 player and when I’m walking to and fro, there’s a high chance I’m listening or relistening to a podcast. There’s so many that authors may be interested in guesting on, and with the right host, it should also be a lot of fun. Right now I have three podcasts I would love to be on (yes, EOFire is one of them though I don’t feel accomplished enough yet to ask and can only do so from the entrepreneur side of what I do – I don’t yet “match” the guests’ impressive achievements and mega incomes).
Working towards a goal is a great way to keep motivated, so if you’re aiming towards not only growing awareness and building your fanbase, but also of getting on specific podcasts or TV shows, each of these goals may ignite your inner fire.
A perfect example is Gary Vaynerchuk – he knew since he was a kid that he wanted to own the Jets. Now he can say he has!
Your next task is to find three popular podcasts related to writing, publishing or marketing and check out their back catalogue of episodes. Then rinse and repeat until you find three podcasts that you absolutely love and would really enjoy being on their show. Write those ones down and keep listening until you feel you are ready to approach them.
Or alternatively, take the plunge and approach before you feel ready – as long as you feel you “match” the guests they have already had on, then you’re a possibility. Asking to be on the show is helping the podcaster – it saves them time looking for someone else to interview and also means they have a new guest. (It’s the same for guest posting – ask first and be nervous later.)
Some podcasters do their shows using Google Hangouts (which saves them onto Youtube) or directly on Youtube, so also make sure to check out the visual podcasts such as Sterling and Stone.
20 Be Aware of all the Rights Associated with Your Book, and What it Means for You as the Author
One of the reasons a lot of independently published authors decide to do so is related to the rights of their book. One book has several licenses affiliated with it. You’ve got the paperback, hardback, large print and audio options, then movie and TV rights, serial rights, territory rights (where it can be sold or sub-licensed), ebooks, merchandising (which I think includes games).
That’s a lot of things you sign over as a traditional author in return for a royalty payment which is an advance payment your book needs to exceed before you get paid again through its sales.
You don’t have to agree to give a traditional or small publishing house all of those rights. Being aware of what each one is (and doing more research if you do plan to go traditional or hybrid) will assist you when both you and a publishing house are deciding if the other is worth pursuing.
As the author, in many traditional publishing houses, you won’t get a lot of say over things like the cover design, or promotional periods either (which may be agreed upon when signing your contract).
I feel both options are great for different reasons, which is why I aim to be a hybrid (and author who is both independently published and traditionally published).
- Publishing Agreements
- Traditional Publishing Perils
- The Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing Versus Traditional Publishing
21 Create a List of Literary Agents You’d Love to Work With, For What Purpose and Keep Thinking of Them as Your Write
In 2006, I went through that year’s publication of the Writers’ and Artists’ Handbook. I put a star against each literary agency that the 2005 version of The Royal Gift might appeal to. I also created a few letter templates for approaching them (see the next tip) and read up extensively online from respected authors, agencies I had starred and any articles written by literary agents online. I think I also visited about.com’s writing section (I went there quite a bit back then along with FARP).
That version of The Royal Gift was utter codswallop, so though I did get a personalised response from one of the agents I approached, I’m really glad nobody rushed to represent it.
These days writers are at an advantage:
Many literary agents are on Twitter.
“No unsolicited manuscripts,” is an easier term to respectfully bypass.
Get to know individuals responsible for picking an agency’s next clients using social media. Interacting with anyone on Twitter, Facebook (etc) will usually make a person (agent or otherwise) more inclined to give you a second glance – because they feel they know you. It’ll also give the agent a chance to decide if your personality is one they can work with – agents don’t get paid until authors get paid by publishing houses, so having to put up with a nasty person without any monetary compensation is just not worth it. Social media gives them a chance to pre-evaluate you as a person.
Keeping an agent in mind as you write will ensure that you will consider how they will react to your synopsis (the summary of your book that answers all the who, what, how and why questions). This may improve the outcome of your writing’s quality – potentially meaning less editing time later on.
Psst! Tip for Smaller Budget Authors:
In the resources below, you’ll see two books. Having been an idiot and bought three versions of the Writers’ & Artists’ Handbook (2006, 2009 and 2013), I can safely say there’s no difference that I can see. If you’re short on your author budget right now, grab a copy from the library and then use an internet connection to look up literary agents and check to see if their details need updating.
The second book on making a perfect pitch is definitely worth a read – this one is the one that I utilised the advice for and got the personalised (though rejection) letter back. It’s also not as expensive as when I bought it in 2008, whoot!
Immediately Actionable Step
- Head onto Twitter and type “literary agent” in the search bar.
- Follow a potential literary agent who works for an agency you have A) heard of and B) represents your sort of writing.
- Once a day, read their tweets.
- Once a day retweet one of their tweets.
- Once a day also interact directly with them by engaging with one of their tweets.
- If you’re struggling to interact with their content, unfollow and restart the above steps.
- Writers’ & Artists’ Handbook 2016 (book)
- Making the Perfect Pitch: How to Catch a Literary Agent’s Eye (book)
- How to Find a Literary Agent
- How to Write a Novel Synopsis (With Example)
- Followerwonk (search Twitter profiles)
22 Create your Letter for Literary Agents (Personalisation Comes Later)
Writing your query or submission letter for agents you want to approach whilst still writing can assist you. You need to be able to summarise what makes your book great and worth their representing, and what makes you a valuable client (your potential to bring in the pennies). Some things I experimented with were:
- As a teen, I mentioned my age – I probably shouldn’t have done that.
- How many books were in the series – I was advised by a submissions reviewer / literary agent that it wasn’t a good idea to say how prolific you are. I can’t remember exactly who they were. They had a community and services so it may have been Writers’ Workshop (happened 2006 – 2008).
- Tagline – a one-liner to draw people in. You often see this on book covers nowadays.
- What and who the book was about.
- The target audience.
- Why I sought that particular agent out and that particular agency.
- What I could do to help promote it.
- Current and previous successes and statistics (such as 4487 downloads in the first three months on Amazon and an average of 4.25 on Goodreads).
As I am not represented by a literary agent at this time, I can’t give you exact actionable tips in this area. Do try and read a copy of Katharine Sands’ Making the Perfect Pitch. In 2016, I plan to get represented so I can sell the foreign (territory) rights for The Royal Gift to a traditional publishing house, and to sell all the rights for the Forbs Quadrilogy. When I am successful, I will update this section of this article or create an additional resource.
- How to Get Your Foot in the Literary Agent’s Door
- How to Get a Literary Agent without Dying of Old Age
- The Perfect Literary Agent Query Letter
23 Consider Your Author Bio, Front & Back Content
The bit in the back of the book that has a short paragraph about the author is similar to blurbs in that some authors find them difficult. Check out the bios in the books of authors you enjoy (especially if they write for the same audience). Consider how theirs are written and plan your own. This helps with: submission/query letters, author media kits (used online, for guest articles, podcasts, speaker opportunities, conventions and webinars).
You’ll also want to consider what’s at the front of your book (email subscriptions for example) and back content (acknowledgements and previews). Front and back content are just for your own knowledge, or in case you are going independent.
24 Create Your General Author Media Kit (not Your Book’s)
Media kits are pretty common in author circles. Publishers, publicists and marketers use them to send out information to influential people who may assist in increasing exposure of your book/product or you. You may wish to provide one on your site. Knowing what you are going to put on your author media kit before you start approaching agents or editors can help smooth the processes a lot that come later on. This saves you time so you can immediately start working on your next book (progress is very important for continual growth for your readers and your success).
Knowing points about you that are highlights are also handy for approaching literary agents and publishers. Here are some of the things you may want to include in your author media kit:
- Contact information & social media
- Full bio
- Short bio
- Endorsements or related achievements (except school writing competitions).
- Interview resources (pre-prepared questions and suggested topics)
- Twitter posting ideas
Later on once you have something published, you’ll probably want to add:
- Media reactions (links to your reviews, good and bad)
- Promotional banner images
- Book details (ISBN, title, publisher etc, page length).
- Related merchandise or products
25 Create Your Book’s Media Kit
For the same reason that your personal media kit is useful the sooner it is ready, so is the one for your book. You can handpick elements from it to help with pre-release promotional work, such as Twitter awareness building campaigns.
The below checklist is one I created for How Not to Make Your Author Site Suck, a free Draebox course for setting up your author website.
- Introductory paragraph
- Contact Information – if you use emails for different areas such as review copy requests or events, add them all here and your social media links.
- Product Information:
- Long Sales Copy.
- Short Sales Copy (delete either length as needed for the specific individual you’re sending the media kit to).
- Product Specifications
- Cover/product image
- Publisher (optional)
- Release Date
- Retail Price
- ISBN & eISBN
- Page number
- Available Formats
- Additional Images (for them to use – make them downloadable if it’s an online kit).
- Full or short bio about you.
- Author headshots.
- Endorsements (and notable book review blogs’ reviews).
- Promotional Information – this is when you ask them to:
- “Whenever promoting the book in any of its forms, please link back to my author site, [LINK].
- If you are kind enough to release a review, please let us know so we can add it to the reviews page.
- Interview Resources:
- Interview bio points (talking points about you that may be interesting)
- Suggested interview topics
- How to sound like you’ve read the book (for the interviewer with little time)
- Sample interview questions (I recommend a Google spreadsheet of these, with a filter per book)
26 Create Your Guest Blogging Version of Your Media Kit
A lot of today’s online influencers or virtual mentors highly recommend guest posting on other’s sites to build awareness of your current projects, you or your brand.
I’ve found this works OK for growing my readerbase, but so far I haven’t targeted specific high-traffic blogs so the results aren’t as big as those suggested (I’m experimenting with this during 2016 – I’ll update this article when the results are in).
Knowing what to put in the bit about you at the bottom of the article is pretty important. When I started experimenting with and studying this bit in 2015, I found that adding the mundane but quirky things wasn’t really effective.
The best ones direct readers to either get something for free or at a discount by taking immediate action (like a free trial of your service or a sample chapter) or right to what you’re promoting. Adding Twitter doesn’t hurt either – making you’re more approachable by potential future readers and fans – offer to chat with them about the article!
Psst! Though writing guest articles is also recommended for creating backlinks back to your site to improve search rankings, having your link in the article author section isn’t powerful – it’s better for your SEO if you can slip your site’s link in a spot further up on the article in a useful and meaningful way.
I did read an article on this over on Copyblogger when I was researching ways to improve my about page. Despite attempts, I haven’t been able to relocate the specific blog article. However, I did find this alternative article which is pretty good and cover the same section of guest posting too.
27 Find Reliable & Willing Beta Readers
You may wish to get test readers to start reading your work before you have finished your first draft, or later on in the process instead of, or in combination with, an editor. The amount of beta readers you have does not promise a better book, but it can make you more confident in your writing.
When you’re building your fanbase and awareness, beta readers can become your greatest assistants in spreading the word about you and your book. If they love it, and if you incentivise them to finish helping you, they’re much more likely to share about it on their own blogs or social media.
The majority of beta readers though will start to lose attention and then stop providing you feedback completely. I’ve been a beta reader, and even with knowing how important it is for some authors, in the end I lost interest in the book and stopped giving feedback.
Which is still good feedback – “I lost interest here on this page. I won’t be reading any more. Thank you for letting me read your WIP, and I hope my previous suggestions were of use.” It lets the author know when they get boring.
One of the more effective ways I’ve found is to do it per chapter – you send one chapter, they give feedback, and then you send the next one. This means more work for us writers, but it also means if they’re just grabbing at a free book, they’ll have to work for the whole thing (which means less wasted time from beta readers that need training on giving constructive feedback over comments that give you little valuable feedback).
Garrett B Robinson went one step further, by providing a questionnaire after each bit he gave to his beta readers for a particular project (if I remember correctly, it may have been Rebel Yell).
Gaining beta readers is in itself a bit of an art. A few authors suggest requiring them to review one of your other books and letting you know that they placed a review, and then putting them on an exclusive list.
I quite like this strategy, especially as you’re asking for honest reviews – even if it’s a one-star, they can ask to be a beta reader (but if they didn’t enjoy your other book, that’s extra friction that will assist them in not finishing giving feedback, and suggests they won’t like it anyway – don’t send them a copy). It’s a good little rinse and repeat option too, but you have to have another book first before you can use this strategy.
If you’re starting out, you may wish to find two to three beta readers. If they’re friends offline, be aware that they can feel pressured to say yes, and may not do the reading and feedback. It can also affect your friendship if you keep asking if they have any feedback yet – handle these beta readers with care. You’ll also want to be more selective over who you choose if you have a smaller group of beta readers – pick those you know are going to finish (or at least get halfway through), and that will not mollycoddle you.
- 5 Things You Should Know About Working with Beta Readers
- The Ultimate Guide for Working with Beta Readers
- Beta, Critter or Editor?
28 Consider Sharing Weekly Progress with Wattpad & Google Plus
Another way to find beta readers and get feedback is Google Plus and Wattpad. Google Plus will help you find other authors and critique-givers who (going from my experience) will provide in-depth and technical feedback, whilst Wattpad is more about feedback for the characters and story, not sentence structure and the like.
For Kateti, one of the things I did was experiment with using Google Plus to share weekly pieces with specific individuals that expressed interest in beta reading it. The downsides to this way of sharing it is that A) I released each piece weekly to all of them B) they didn’t get a notification in their inbox – it may have been hidden in their stream C) a few went inactive on Google Plus, so they never finished giving feedback and D) lack of interaction between us resulted in less feedback (I wasn’t sure how to interact with a lot of the stuff they posted on their streams to help keep me/my book at the forefront of their minds).
I also shared it within a writing community I was a part of – I got a lot of good feedback through this method.
Kateti was additionally shared on Wattpad. I had a few regular readers, but the feedback didn’t always appear. A lot of Wattpad requires you to find extra time to read the work of others too – it’s a tit for tat community except for those who have already “made it” on Wattpad with thousands of readers and views. After a while, Wattpad becomes a huge time eater, which isn’t what you want when you’re working on building awareness and a fanbase, or are writing your next book.
That’s not to say these options won’t work for you. With Wattpad, it may just be better to put everything up in one day and then promote it, saving yourself a lot of time on a weekly basis because your book will be marked complete, rather than having new bits added every week.
29 Read Your Favourite Authors’ Worst Reviews on Amazon
This is a little trick I picked up by chance whilst rewriting Threat. On a day when I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired, I went to Amazon and considered buying the ebook version of Sabriel, a book that inspired me a great deal as a teen (so much so I still have my paperback copy and call it The Royal Gift’s unofficial shelf-buddy). So many people attacked the book in the reviews. And strangely I was productive after that. Inspecting the situation later on in the day, I realised that I was inspired by Garth Nix to keep writing because he had. Weird but effective! Here are a few of GRR Martin’s bad reviews:
Reading the bad reviews some of your favourite authors have had and that write for the same target audience as you helps you to mentally prepare for your haters – people who don’t like you for any reason (even silly reasons) or those that just genuinely didn’t understand your book.
I’ve definitely experienced those that don’t “get” The Royal Gift – one of the issues with writing in the fantasy young adult genre is that you have people who aren’t young adults and that may not have as vivid imaginations reading your books; people who are not your target audience reading your book. This can backfire on you and your book, especially when they skip over explanations, such as one of my reviewers did regarding electrical goods and importation tax in the Giften Kingdom; this means that Giftens such as Aldora and Raneth don’t see electrical devices or cars everywhere, so their kingdom doesn’t rely on such devices and such items don’t become common until later in the series with a slow bleed-in effect.
Yep, that one review bugged me for a week.
Then you also get the reviews that are placed by other authors who are trying to make you go down in the charts so their book can go up. I like to laugh at these, especially as it is clear after you take a closer look that that is what these are.
Bad reviews will always niggle at you, especially when you are watching the ratings in preparation for your next book’s launch, and you want to have done a great bit of writing with your book.
By reading the bad reviews others have had, you can start preparing yourself for how the reviews will probably affect you, and learn to keep writing despite whatever bad feedback you get (deserved or otherwise). This also helps with beta readers.
30 Make a List of Book Bloggers that Read Your Type of Book
You can do this one after you’ve finished working with your editor or just skip this one, but having a list of book bloggers that read your genre and target audience is a good plan. Be aware that it may be a bit difficult until you’ve had several reviews to get a yes). Creating a spreadsheet of what they will accept, their name, website and contact information is time consuming, but an effective way to organise your attempts to get a book blogger to say yes to reviewing your book (or doing a similar promotion, such as a cover reveal or author interview).
When The Royal Gift had just been released on Amazon, Nook and Kobo, I couldn’t get any book bloggers to say yes. This may be for several reasons, including their time restraints (several also expect you to send a paperback version, so if sending paperbacks isn’t within your marketing budget, that’ll cut off a few possibilities). A good chunk of book bloggers also refuse to look at anything self-published, which can also stand as a barrier.
There’s also the expectation of being familiar with their previous reviews, so spending time on their sites is a must – being able to mention another review that encouraged you to buy a book or add it to your TBR pile is (apparently) a way to further encourage the book blogger to take a chance on your book. You’ve also got to get your email just right so you stand out (this is probably a big part of why I failed to get a book blogger to agree to do a review or author interview – I likely wasn’t standing out).
Another way to make a list of book bloggers is to head over to Twitter and search #bookreviews / #bookreview and see who comes up. Anyone who then says in their profile that they are a book blogger may be worth adding to a book bloggers list on Twitter (from which you can revisit and extract information later on via their websites).
In 2016, I may try approaching book bloggers again, but I’ll focus first on those who do it over on Youtube this time. (In the event book reviews start saying yes, I’ll update this article with book review stats, templates of what I said in the emails and any approach preparation I did.)
Psst! The way I found book bloggers quickly who read for my target audience and genre was to find online directories of book bloggers in those areas. To find some for you, Google: “book bloggers” + “directory” + “[your genre or target audience]”. You can also add a location (such as Australia) as that sometimes brings up different but handy results if you’re aiming for the same country as you.
- How to Get Endless Reviews for Your Amazon Book or Product
- How to Get Reviews for Your Book
- How to Get Reviews for Self Published Books
31 Make a List of Places to Independently Publish & Their Needs (Indies, and required book cover sizes etc)
When I was at the end of preparing The Royal Gift for publication, I already had my book cover made to the usual size, but needed to go around each location I planned to distribute from and get the size and DPI requirements down pat.
I ended up with a Google Doc with notes for Kobo, Createspace, Kindle, Google Play, Wattpad, Smashwords and Nook. It included dimensions, the DPI and in some cases, additional links and notes.
32 Create An Email List & Start Using it
One of the first things I did after setting up my author site was to head into Mailchimp and create a list for my author activities and the things I blog about on that site. Over time, it also changed to include sub-lists/groups where subscribers could select which email topics they would get (for example, just my author updates, just my free courses, premium courses or a mixture of the various options).
When you’re not yet published, you may wish to use your email list in combination with your website to share your blog articles, exclusive extras and progress reports on your book’s launch.
Email lists are really important – firstly, you control the content in them, and as long as people are opening their emails, you stand a higher chance of getting more downloads on the day of your book’s release (making it potentially easier to race up the charts). It’s also a great way when done right, to get conversation going between you and your readers. I love my email lists, and it’s mostly because of the conversations that happen after I send the emails out.
- How to Use the Welcome Email to Give Freebies on Mailchimp (for Free)
- A Beginner’s Guide to Starting Your First Email List
- Your First 1000 Copies (book on email list building)
Authors can start building their fanbase before #publishing by using an email list. | #writing… Click To Tweet
33 Get (And Stay) Organised
In 2003 (when I wrote The Royal Gift for the first time), I misplaced the original version of the scene where Aldora met Raneth. This was because I put the handwritten piece somewhere, “safe”.
The “safe” places are not safe.
I learned to become organised fast after that.
I had an A5 idea book and two A4 arch lever folders (one for manuscripts and one for planning and printed resources). The number of folders multiplied pretty quickly over the next few years; when I moved from my parents to my college flat, I got two plastic boxes that the folders would sit comfortably in to make them more transportable and to work as makeshift shelves.
Being organised let’s you get on with the business side of writing, building your fanbase and growing awareness. For those interested, here is how my main folders are organised in one of the boxes:
- The Common Kingdoms Manuscripts & Plans 1: The Kingdom’s Gift / Dagger Of Protection (The Royal Gift) + Criminal Chasing + Threat + Shotput of Power + scrapped scenes.
- The Common Kingdoms Manuscripts & Plans 2: ANTIs + The Mening War + scrapped scenes.
- New Novel Resources (always wanting to burst open): general printed resources + completed short stories + Shotput of Power Prep + The Mening War Prep + The Mening Province 1 Prep + Hostage Holding Prep + The Mening Province 2 Prep + Fleeing Prep + The Mening Province 3 Prep + Broken Crown Prep + Assignment Artefacts Prep + Yannick Prep + Christmas Disaster Prep + Greg Greu Prep + Sairnot Prep + Seeth City Prep + Without Honours Prep + Seecole War Prep + Ace of Flowers Trilogy Prep + Maps + Royal Officials and BCRI
- The Common Kingdoms Manuscripts & Plans 3 (will be spread among more folders once full): The Mening Province 1 + Hostage Holding + The Mening Province 2 + Fleeing + The Mening Province 3 + Broken Crown + Assignment Artefacts + Yannick + Christmas Disaster + Sairnot + Seeth City and Without Honours
- The Common Kingdoms Manuscripts & Plans 4: 2014 version of The Royal Gift & 2015 version of Threat
- The Billy Talon Series: 1, 2 and 3 (all scrapped).
- Seno/Sizael: Kateti, Afien’s Howl 1, Afien’s Howl 2 & updated world lore.
- Forbs Quad: maps + plans + 2009 manuscript pieces
- Character Quick Reference: Various Common Kingdoms characters’ quick reference sheets.
Note: at the time of writing this article, Villainy Episodes One and Two, Afien’s Howl Episode Three, Shotput of Power (Version 2016), Forbs: Anjali Knight (Version 2016) and Tournstone: Genesis are all contained in online storage and USB sticks – this isn’t good. Print everything for double anti-loss protection!
34 Protect Your Book’s Growth: Don’t Hang Out with Negative Friends
You are the five people you spend the most time with. This includes financially (combine their income and divide by five – usually you end up around your income) as well as emotional energy. If the people you are in the presence of are often negative (the sort that see the glass as half empty, or always have something to complain about), your energy and focus on success may be eroded. This will affect your progress in building your fanbase and continuing progress to write your books.
An almost perfect example:
In my teen years when I was still living with my parents, my mother joined me in the family study where I was writing. She told me point-blank, that it was highly unlikely I would ever get published.
This was without reading any of my work (though one sibling claimed at the time she had read a bit of a first draft when I left the room).
I ignored her and carried on, which resulted in publishing twelve years later.
A more recent example:
My father and I often butt heads when it comes to business. He feels that if a product doesn’t make all of it’s production cost back immediately in one sale, it shouldn’t be done. He’s an old school businessman who deals with a brick and mortar business. He still tells me outright to this day, “stop writing,” despite the fact that Draft 2 Digital has sent royalty checks to me and Amazon has released my first royalty payments for it’s US and UK sites.
I plan to prove him wrong eventually with a large royalty payment that matches one of his pricing quotes (this is my competitive streak, but this is why my father is awesome – he makes me work harder and experiment more often).
I can’t avoid being with family though – they’re family and they’re important to me.
So let’s look at a friend who is a much better example:
A friend I met in 2010 online was often complaining about their online project’s continuing lack of progress. Instead of trying something new to make their online community improve and engage how they wanted, they would go to the same group of people for advice time and time again.
This complaining continued for five years with no progress or changes.
In the end I stopped emailing them or answering their emails, and I took them off any of my email lists they were on – every time I read one of their emails, it would make me tired mentally. This would mean that for the rest of the day I wouldn’t be productive.
Stop or limit how often you spend time with anyone negative, or that is in some way being mean or a bully to you. This protects your happiness and any projects you are working on.
35 Cut Back on Time Eating Habits that Aren’t Essential & Use that Time to Write or Promote
In 2015, I started to cut down on the amount of time I spent with a local friend. We would often meet up to go to our favourite coffee shops and chat. I enjoyed spending time with her, but a part of my mind was niggling at me – I knew I could be spending a little less time with my friend to produce more of my content, get more of my books’ drafts finished and spend more time working on the Draebox brand.
2016 came around and I started to cut it down a little more. We both also stopped getting more than one coffee each time we met up.
The result? Sometimes we only see each other once a week for coffee, for an hour.
This equaled more time for writing, less money spent on food or drink I didn’t need and less “ew, what is that?” moments in Costa when trying to pick a clean seat before we switched to another cafe. This has been great for two reasons: the first is that this article and more were written in time reclaimed from this habit, and I saved money I could put towards the next book’s production costs.
Cut down on time-eaters to make more room for #writing | #productivity #promotion Click To Tweet
36 Consider Writing a Free Short Story Set Just Before the Book or Make the Beginning Able to Stand on its Own as a Short Story
Several authors have grown awareness and a fanbase by writing short stories that raise curiosity and interest in a larger book they have worked on that was related. Others have repurposed their short stories into full length novels (such as Jennifer Williams with The Copper Promise).
I did this too in 2015, but the idea didn’t spawn from the above reason or knowledge. Kateti, a short story set in my Sizael imprint’s world, was in-world research so I could continue to write Afien’s Howl, a story that is split into four complete but episodic parts. Kateti filled the time gap between Sizael’s old WRPG and the events in the books, but it also let me explore Lemora a little more (a neighbouring country the game only opened at set times), let me get more familiar with Kateti (a ranger) and Hanjour (an assassin), and helped determine the state of Lemora’s capital city and Swelithi City by the time Mairi and Dimitri headed over in Afien’s Howl. It also let me discover new world lore which I added into the latest version of the world’s companion.
Basically, it was an opportunity for me to get to know two important characters I would be relying on in Afien’s Howl and I discovered a few other gems (this is the main way I expand my fantasy worlds and knowledge – by writing fun pieces). I realised I could also publish it on the same day as The Royal Gift, so they could work together to build awareness of my tales on distributors like Amazon.
Not long after releasing it to my email subscribers, I wondered if the book held too much backstory from it’s days as an online RPG. A review on Goodreads confirmed it and I quietly pulled it from my email subscribers’ freebies and from Amazon, iBooks, Tolino, 24Symbols and Inktera (it’s still available on Kobo). I plan to write out some of the references to the previous five years of the world’s events into the background in 2016 and put it back up on Amazon and the others.
Short stories additionally take less time to write. Kateti, which was a 16,000 word manuscript (after my amazing editor and I ripped through the drafts), took four months and three weeks from starting the writing and planning, working with my editor and having it ready for release; the writing part of the process was 19,064 words written over 18 days before the editing rounds (average: 1060 words per day).
The mistake I made with Kateti (along with the too much backstory thanks to an amazing five years of WRPG events) was that it wasn’t related to my Common Kingdoms Series – the same one that The Royal Gift starts off. I should have written a short story that followed one of the main characters just before the The Royal Gift. It could have been Raneth hunting his criminal or dodging Thane, Pedibastet having to get back to the palace before he was noticed missing, or Aldora and her father having to deal with an emergency in their village. It could even have focused on Raneth’s father, who makes guest appearances in The Royal Gift and Threat.
I’m toying with the idea of writing all of those in 2016, but we’ll wait and see – I’ve got quite a few books to finish off this year so I can start more!
I feel I got a little off track with that. Let’s review why a short story may be good for building awareness and growing your readers:
- Builds your confidence – you’ll have a completed story under your belt.
- Can be cleaned up and used as part of your promotional strategies or to get the interest of a literary agent.
- Can be used to start generating small sales to contribute towards production costs of your larger story.
- Builds your author portfolio.
- Can be used on Wattpad instead of your larger story.
- 10 Winning Ways to Open Your Novel (I like this one to help with blurbs, and for short stories, knowing your blurb in advance helps with staying on your plot points!)
37 Notice What Distracts You Whilst Writing & Limit Them
There’s a lot of things that can distract writers these days – Twitter, Facebook, text messages, new emails, articles, television shows, people we live with, cats, dogs… The list goes on.
The trick is figuring out what it is that often stops you writing (even if just for a few seconds) and figuring out how to limit their power of distraction over you whilst you’re in “writing mode”.
I’m a rascal when it comes to my Android smartphone and tablet. Whilst the tablet is the way I’m continually within reach for hosting, design clients and my team, it can also be a good distraction machine. The phone’s even worse, especially as those guys ringing, texting or tweeting you may not know you’re writing and shouldn’t be disturbed. Keep them quiet and out of sight (and out of mind) helps a lot. Smart devices are great at making you think you’re being productive until you realise the time.
As for people you live with, it depends on who they are and what they think of your writing, but try to have a conversation with them where you explain how important your writing is to you and why you would appreciate it if they don’t disturb you when you’re writing (but be aware they may need a visual aid to know when you’re writing as opposed to hanging out on social media or emailing a friend).
- Tips and Tricks for Distraction Free Writing
- The Key to Distraction-Free Writing
- How to Write Faster: 18 Tips to Stop Sabotaging Your Writing Goals
Writers who prevent distractions get more done | #writing Click To Tweet
38 Host a Q&A About Your Progress and Your Writing Process or Progress on Blab, Periscope, Twitter, Google Hangouts, Snapchat or Youtube
One of the things I’m experimenting with across the Draebox Network in 2016 is the use of video. A few authors I’m aware of, as well as influencers such as Gary Vaynerchuk, Wade Harman and Michael Hyatt have started to use Periscope and Blab and Snapchat. Some authors (including Simon Cantan, Dave Higgins, Garrett B Robinson and Joanna Penn) have used Google Hangouts and recorded Skype sessions (uploaded to Youtube) as a larger part of their awareness and fanbase building strategies. Take a look at some of these Youtube stats:
- Michael Hyatt’s How to Become a Morning Person, views: 3904 in two weeks.
- Garrett Robinson’s Real Friends & Fake Places, views: 248 in one week.
- Gary Vaynerchuk’s Ask Gary Vee Show Episode 176: Delegating Work, Micromanagement & Monitoring Employees’ Social Media, views: 23,860 in one week.
- Derek Halpern’s How I Built a 7 Figure Online Business (with 200,000 Blog Subscribers), views: 56,957 in five months (11,391 viewers per month).
- Sterling and Stone’s Self Publishing Podcast #181 (Beating Writer’s Block), views: 331 in two months
- Joanna Penn’s Creative Process, views: 720 in two weeks
39 Sign up as a Goodreads Author & Add Your Books
Goodreads is a great little nook on the internet for authors and readers. When readers add books to their TBR pile or start reading a book, anyone who is linked to them as a friend will see the book in their timeline/stream. This is pretty good for promotion to people you don’t necessarily have access to. For authors, it does appear to be a bit like Wattpad in that the more you use your time on it, the more you’ll see the benefits (but far less time to write).
I’m still getting the hang of using Goodreads well as an author (I’ll update this article with any experiments’ results), but here are a few resources to get you going:
40 Register as an Amazon Author & Create Your Profiles in Your Country & Others
When readers are looking at books on Amazon, there’s a section where it displays a short biography snippet about the author, as well as an image. Creating an Amazon Author Profile on the different Amazon sites is a good idea because of this (though on releasing this article, I’ve purposefully not put a photo of me on mine yet). I concentrated on Amazon UK and Amazon US when creating mine, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make one for each Amazon (including Japan). I would recommend getting a professional or native speaker to convert your bio into the native language of the Amazon you’re adding your bio onto.
41 Get Your Professional Photos Sorted (Unless Not Having Your Face Online is Part of Your Marketing)
This is a step I need to resolve in 2016 for use across the whole of the Draebox brand. Having a photograph of yourself isn’t really necessary for ebooks, but it becomes more important when you’re promoting yourself with the assistance of media kits and cross-promotion.
As someone who has approved guests to have on Drae Box Books and on the WRPGs.net podcast, I don’t let the lack of pictures stop me from accepting a potential guest, but I do if it’s a non-professional photograph that looks like a selfie.
Colour catches the eye, so a reader on Amazon is likely to glance at your author bio before clicking a purchase or free download link, depending on their screen size. Although, saying that, I don’t think it is as important on Amazon. One author I have had the pleasure to meet in person at a Meetup goes by the pen name of Ash Toriod and has an asteroid as their photograph.
If you want to improve your chances of getting on podcasts, radios and even TV before your book is published, you’ll probably want to invest in a professional photo shoot. Check out the local wedding photographers, as some of them will be happy to do a session despite it not being their area of speciality. Alternatively, Google for photographers in your area that do professional portrait or on-site photographs.
42 If Independently Publishing, purchase Your First Set of ISBNs to Make Your Book More Accessible Once Released for Booksellers.
ISBNs are bought in packs, and as a result the price racks up pretty quickly. If you know roughly how many books you’ll definitely be publishing in the next few years, you can purchase your ISBNs ahead of when you need them. It’s a pretty easy process (and even faster now you have the option of getting your ISBNs emailed to you).
A good chunk of authors that are self-published on Amazon, Kobo and iBooks are not using ISBNs. In some ways, this is limiting paperback and ebook sales.
Depending on where a bookseller likes to get their new stock, they may head to the distributor of ISBNs in their country (for example, the UK’s is Nielsen) and check out what is available by category or target audience.
It also makes it easier for independent bookstores to purchase physical copies without you necessarily having to visit them in person – this means it saves you a bit of time (and time management is important for authors).
43 Make a List of the 20 Nearest Independent Bookstores and Big Name Bookstores
When I was a teenager, there was a small independent bookstore near where I worked. I went in there every week and would grab one recommended book and three others that caught my interest.
The next week, those books would be read and I’d be looking forward to the bookseller’s next recommendation.
He also offered to host a book tour stop when I got published. The downside: he couldn’t afford to keep the bookshop running and closed down before I published.
Independent bookstores need the extra help to get customers through the door and purchasing their stock. Authors can help with this. In advance of your publishing date, try and find the twenty independent or small name bookstores within easy travel distance, get to know their staff and purchase books you want to read through them instead of your local big name booksellers. You can usually do this with Google (I managed to find a few for me this way and have them listed down ready.)
If you and the bookseller gel well together, take the plunge and let them know you’re an author, and ask if they would be open to hosting an event if you can rally up the locals to come and check it out.
If they say yes, go and do these tasks:
- Finish your book (if not already), and work with an editor and book cover designer pronto to polish it.
- Buy your ISBNs and apply one to the book.
- Head to your local newspapers and let them know that the bookshop will be hosting a local author. (Local + local = happy newspaper)
- See if you can get additional authors to make an appearance (you are networking, right?)
- Order 10-20 copies of your book in paperback so they will arrive in time.
- Ring in to your local radio station (or the most popular one in your area such as Heart FM) and even if just requesting a song, there’s usually a way to add in what you’re doing whilst listening. Say you’ll be going to your event or preparing for it. Additionally, try and plug the bookshop whilst you’re at it 😉
- If you have a lot of local cafes, create some colourful business cards that advertise the event and ask if you can leave a few near their till.
- Tweet at the event to thank others for coming, take pictures, broadcast it or record it to share online later.
44 Find Reliable Supporters to Assist as Your Book Launch Team (Initial Spreading Awareness on Launch Week & the Week Before)
Here’s a tricky bit:
Finding reliable supporters.
In theory, this should be simple, but a lot of us mess up here or don’t organise a book launch team. I’ve screwed this up before too.
Reliability is like an unspoken currency, similar to reputation currency.
A good book launch combines a lot of these tips with the need to network and have support backing you up. Even if this is something like ten of your friends promising to tweet about your book every second day and following through, or it’s someone helping you email all those book bloggers with your press release, or even another promise to youtube about/with you on their vlog, this is sometimes left with stones unturned.
We get so caught up in getting everything ready, we forget to be nice.
We forget to say, “hey, how’s your day going?”
We forget to say, “I really liked this vlog you released yesterday! This is why…”
We forget to say, “Hey guys. I just wanted to thank you again for helping me out. The book launches tomorrow at the below locations online. Below I have added everything you need to know and for your use to promote it in your chosen way, and I’ve also added what I’ll be doing.”
Networking, teamwork, communication and caring.
It’s as simple as that.
There are more than one type of person who can help you with a launch and be welcomed onto your launch team. These are:
- Other authors
- Your existing followers and fans
Each individual can be given a specific task, or each type could be given a task to improve the chances of increased exposure. Perhaps, for example, your family will tweet two or three times a day (if they haven’t met Tweetdeck yet, now’s the time to share that link). Your friends might repost your tweets or share your Facebook updates. One may be helping to run a Facebook event with you. Other authors could be doing a combination of those, being in the event with you (cross-promotion), recommending you to their email lists with links to your book on the main online retailers or mentioning you in their next blog article.
Influencers/experts are a little more difficult, but it’s not impossible.
Take this article:
I reached out to a handful of experts that I look up to and consider my influencers and virtual mentors. A few of them responded to my emails and were more than happy to contribute to this article. (I’m still following up with some of these guys – this article will be updated as and when I get their contributions and/or answers.)
If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
I do not recommend asking your influencers, experts or your virtual mentors to promote your book, or asking them to retweet you. That’s not fair on these guys – they’re likely busier than you and might not want to put their name to something from someone they’re not familiar with.
I also reached out to someone who runs their online software as an invite-only system, and asked them how effective they found that to be – I asked this because of how I run the web services I provide; clients are approved after a questionnaire, but this could be streamlined into an invite and referral system.
Instead of asking these guys to promote your book or you, head to their websites and first check to see if they have written any articles that gives you actionable advice on the upcoming weeks for your book launch.
If they haven’t, or you can’t find something relevant, find their email and email them a short and to-the-point email asking them for one bit of advice they can give you in an area they’re knowledgeable in for book or product launches.
Even with your being careful to keep up to date with all of those who have offered to help out, not everyone you will have asked will follow through.
And that’s okie dokie. If there’s any particular task you can’t bear the idea of being left undone, do it yourself. For example, one friend I have is unreliable; they will always commit or offer to help out in some way during conversation, but when it comes down to them backing up their offer or willingness to commit with action, they never do or if they do, they never finish. The result is I decline their offers because their reliability is known to be in low credit. They also struggle to finish anything they start.
These guys, the ones you already know well enough to recognise a pattern of being unreliable or unable to finish things they start, shouldn’t be asked to help out. If they offer, be kind and explain that you feel their time would be better suited to something else (or be bluntly honest – whichever you prefer).
Finding these guys whilst you’re still writing will let you know what their reliability is like, and how communicative they are. This will give you the opportunity to determine how successful your team will be at creating awareness just before the book goes live. You’ll also be able to discern those who are especially interested because they’ll chase you for the progress updates.
- How to Plan a Successful Book Launch Plan
- How to Launch a Bestselling Book (check out #5 – the launch team tip)
- The Street Team – An Indie Author’s Secret Weapon
45 Reach Out to Authors Doing Well Writing in Your Target Audience & Ask Them if They have a moment to share a Tip for Promoting Your Book
One of the benefits to networking with other authors is being able to make friends and have conversations (see #15 above). You don’t have to stop at making friends and networking with other authors in online communities or meetups. You could also reach out to those you look up to, or those in the same genre that are doing well.
There is nothing wrong with emailing another author and briefly introducing yourself and how you found out about them (and if you have read their books, say what you thought). Ask them in a short email if they have a moment to answer one question that you would like to ask so you can learn from their success.
If they reply and say yes, keep the question, short, sweet and concise, and thank them.
Psst! If you can’t find out their email and they have an email list you’re not already subscribed to, subscribe to their email list to get their email.
Places to find these authors:
- Amazon Bestseller / Top Free Lists
- The author’s Amazon page then:
- The author’s site > their email/social media details
46 Worry About Perfection Later: Done is Better than Perfect
One of the things that really struck me in 2015 was how many writers put off becoming authors because of their need for perfection. I met a few of these at my Meetup group, I have a friend like it, and I saw a lot more online in online communities and on Youtube with this issue too.
You know what?
Seeking perfection is another excuse to procrastinate.
And procrastination is every human’s worst enemy. There’s no need to put things off until tomorrow, or until after you’ve finished researching or studying. Results and rewards come after action. Not before, so why do we worry about perfection?
Worrying isn’t an action – it’s a state of mind. It’s excitement channeled wrong.
I’m not a fan of that saying that the first draft is always rubbish (I’m paraphrasing here). It’s not rubbish. It’s an achievement. Now you’ve done it once, you can do it again, but this time, you’ll do it better (hopefully).
This need for perfection usually shows in authors and writers by excessive editing. If an author is not writing because they’re editing instead, and they keep doing this and forsaking the new writing they need to get done, then they’re not going to finish writing, and their enthusiasm for their story is going to go down the toilet.
And let’s not forget – editors are our friends.
47 Start Vlogging About Your Progress (But Don’t be Boring)
If you’re comfortable in front of a camera and uploading your face online, vlogging might be something worth considering. Vlogging is when someone combines videoing with blogging, so instead of an update on your blog, you do it on Youtube or Snapchat. This actionable can’t be done on its own without any backup to generate awareness and your fanbase. It needs to be combined with spreading the word of your vlogging – this can be done with the help of social media and networking.
In 2015, I researched a lot about creating videos for Youtube, and used the Youtube Academy to get the best tips for free. The videos included such things as sound, lighting, props, cameras and figuring out what exactly you’re going to say.
I didn’t act on the information though, but stored it away ready for 2016. I knew I would be moving house into a quieter location – the amount of noise in the background was important in my decision to hold off on producing videos because I’ve been on the receiving end of podcasts and Youtube videos with nasty background noise, a few of which was from one of the bigger names which I won’t name-drop.
This was a carefully considered business move. Every part of my brand needed videos to start coming into play, from conversion landing pages for my web services and WRPGs.net free online events, all the way to exclusive extras for readers who purchased a paperback copy (like the DVD extras for your favourite TV shows and films).
Was it bugging me? Heck yeah.
I knew I could increase my monthly revenue with videos added within my strategies. I’d observed and analysed how bigger names used videos and webinars effectively alongside email lists to promote their products and knowledge.
For a writer who hasn’t published their first book, they may want to vlog about their writing process, their progress, characters and the world.
For an author who has published one book but has another coming out soon, they may want to look into hosting Google Hangout events (Youtube Live) with their existing fans to answer questions about the new book (without giving too much away but planting plenty of teasers) or interviewing another author for cross-promotion purposes. It could also be hosted using Periscope, Meerkat and Blab.
The trick with anything where someone has to stick around to consume all the content (whether video or written articles), is to know who you’re aiming your content towards. This helps to delay boredom from setting in, or from distractions pulling your reader or viewer away.
Example: this article is aimed towards serious authors who are either just about to publish their first book, or their next book and want to increase awareness and grow their fanbase before it goes live or right during when it does.
Those with less interest in following through likely stopped reading halfway through #3 (so congrats to you for being dedicated to improving your chances of success)!
- Snapchat (will force you to keep it short and to the point)
- Youtube Creator Academy
- Don’t want blank walls behind you? Head to Amazon for a bit of wallpaper to bluetack behind you!
48 Be a Guest on Other Authors’ Sites & Use Cross-Promotion
Cross-promotion is fairly important to help build awareness at any stage of your author career. Podcast hosts are never short of guests to come onto their show because their guests recognise the value of cross-promotion.
Cross-promotion is mixing your following with theirs, and can result in new followers for the both of you.
This works for guest blogging, interviews, podcasting, Twitter chats, Youtube collaborations and any other way that could bring you in front of someone else’s audience. If you’re interested in doing cross-promotion, consider the other’s position – what will they get out of cross-promoting with you really? If you only have five followers right now, that’s OK. Just be honest and upfront. If you have a large social media following and can track click-throughs from there to provide an average click-through rate, that’s good too. Statistics and benefits are your friend in these situations, along with polite emails and pre-approach research.
Think of five authors or podcasts that come immediately to mind that your readers may listen to, read or otherwise interact with your readers online. Reach out to them and see if there is a way you can help them, and also if there is a way you and they could collaborate on a short Youtube video, audiobite such as a Soundcloud audio or travelling in person. The worst thing they can do is ignore you or say no – that’s not going to hurt you.
49 Create a Business Card with Your Book’s Cover & Leave Them in Cafes to Build Local Awareness
It might be cheeky, but leaving business cards where you’ve been could be made even more cheeky as part of your business strategy for building awareness and growing a fanbase. You could have business cards that instead of displaying what you’ve written (like in the image of my The Royal Gift business cards), you could also have a few that say, “Go →” and leave them to create a little path for the curious to follow. I also read of an author who purposefully left copies of their book in airport cafes, with a little note. They were tweeted before they had left the airport and went and said hello. (If I can relocate who did this I will update this section).
An additional way to use this tip to build awareness is to consider getting your front cover framed as a piece of art and display it behind you if broadcasting/streaming online. There may be some comments by those that dislike the obvious but not-in-their-face awareness building; a local friend of mine is very against anything promotional, because she is very opposed to any form of marketing to a point where it is clear that if you didn’t do everything she is against in marketing, that you would never build awareness. T-shirts are one such example she doesn’t agree with.
You could make your business cards into a collectable card game too – combine it with your books’ worlds and characters and voila – something weird but wonderful could happen!
Why not, you know? Have fun!
50 Make a List of Local Radio Shows You Can Easily Travel to
One of the things I let get in the way of building awareness and a fanbase before 2016 was fear. Fear of putting myself “out there.” Yet I was comfortable with putting a book out there, opening up a world I had created and exposing my characters to total strangers.
How did that make sense to me?
If you are wary to be seen, don’t let it completely get in your way. Radio shows and podcasts could be your answer. Consider your local radio shows, or the ones that those who live in the same area as you may be listening to. For example, my location often listens to Heart FM and BBC Radio One.
Many podcasts are recorded through Skype, meaning there are even more options to explore.
If your book can be seen, you can be heard. | #promotion #books #writing Click To Tweet
51 Make a List of Schools You Can Easily Travel to if your Target Audience is in Education
Whilst you’re still writing or getting prepared for your book launch, you may wish to consider the local schools as a chance to talk about writing, working towards your goals and possibly sell some books (building awareness). You can only sell once you have the paperback versions (and preferably audio for dyslexic students), so you’ll need to know when those will be ready, and if you’re using a voice actor, that they’re reliable and will get the job done in time.
You may be surprised by how many are in your area – where I am, there are six schools with my target audience’s age group.
You will need to set up and prepare a few months in advance with the school, and ensure that you remind them a few weeks before and the week before too. If you have the budget, depending on the type of event you organise with the school, you may wish to provide them with small posters to put up around the school to promote when you’ll be in the school.
Do these events for free.
In 2017, I plan to organise school visits. I had some planned for the beginning of 2016, but when the voice actor I selected to narrate The Royal Gift let me down, I decided to wait until The Royal Gift and Threat were ready and in paperback as well as audiobook and ebook formats.
Psst! Don’t mention you are self-published unless they specifically ask – this doesn’t matter if you have something of value to share with the students besides plugging your book. Do try and ensure you have verified reviews on Amazon in that country and several on Goodreads that you can use to promote yourself to the school’s organiser of events.
Additionally, you need to be aware that security checks are likely mandatory in schooling environments near you and may need to be done at your expense.
52 Save Up for Books You’ll Buy to Donate
One way to build awareness and a fanbase locally is to donate a copy of your book to every charity shop, library and school in your area. The charity shops might be able to combine your work to grow awareness with growing awareness for their cause (which could go viral is done right), libraries are a good resource for readers with a strapped budget, and may lead to future friendships and partnerships between you and the library’s staff and events, and schools have a small selection of books but may be interested in getting you into the school for an event with enough interest from students borrowing your book. You could also consider partnering up with gift shops and local cafes you frequent, as well as competitions and giveaways.
You’ll need to give them a copy of the book for free though – you have to give to receive. You can’t expect them to pay seven quid for a paperback from someone they haven’t (or at least are unlikely) to have heard of before.
Authors need to give to receive. | #writing #promoting #marketing Click To Tweet
53 Contact Universities’ Creative Writer Teachers/Lecturers and ask if there’s any way you can help teach a specific area of writing, publishing or promoting (and Bring a Friend to Record it).
If you went to college or university, you may want to contact them before your book’s launch to ask if there is a creative course or English course that would be interested in having you discuss writing with the students and your road to publishing. Offer to do it at a time that suits them; you may find that some are more interested to have you over once you’ve been published for a certain amount of time so you can share what worked for you with statistics to back it up. If you prepare in advance and are really laid back with the students (but keep them on point), you may be invited to do this every year or with every class.
Use your past to refresh connections and build new awareness | #writing #promotion #marketing Click To Tweet
54 Create/Join a Meetup Group or Event to Meet Other Writers to Share Ideas and Experience
In 2015 I created a fiction writers’ Meetup group. It wasn’t a huge success – I wanted to use these events to meet other fiction authors and share ideas and experiences. Other than myself, there was one regular attendee, and we exchanged emails. It became apparent that he was happy to take my ideas and experience, but did not give. Maybe this was because I had done more research before publishing, I don’t know. The friendship felt more like one-sided mentoring.
There were other attendees too. One came because I happened to take Meetup’s advice on the group’s name by calling it after the location I was setting it in and the associated hobby (writing). It turns out there is another group (not on Meetup), of mostly older generation poetry readers who wanted me to change the group’s name because they also happened to be called that.
I was meeting other writers, but just not the right kind – I wanted to meet others who could exchange ideas as well as experiences. This wasn’t happening, and with each Meetup only have myself and two others each time, it wasn’t worth continuing to pay the organiser’s fee which could instead go towards upgrading my email plan to include some automation.
That could have gone better if I perhaps based the event somewhere with a larger population (maybe), promoted it and made the group have an joining fee of one quid a month to cover the organiser fees. Various writers joined the group which I had set up as a free group, including an author mentioned on an article of 60 online influencers, but they didn’t attend – this is normal for Meetup.
Heading over to Eventbrite reveals that some of the larger cities and towns nearby have quite a few events for writers, entrepreneurs, networkers and social media marketeers. In 2016, I’ll be attending some of these to see if I have better results here.
55 Create a Book Launch Plan With A Specific Fan Avatar in Mind
A fan avatar is the ideal reader for your book. Mine are usually in their mid to late teens and enjoy fantasy, but may also include a bit of crime added into the mix. Knowing or “creating” your fan avatar is a great first step towards building awareness and a fanbase, because it tells you who to target and where to go to find them.
When I did this for The Common Kingdoms Series, my youngest sister was in the age range that would be my ideal audience. This made me strategise where I needed to be, along with some additional information I gained from my entrepreneur virtual mentors who have nothing to do with book publishing. Re-evaluating ready for 2016 where I needed to be, I needed to get visible on:
Knowing where your ideal audience is means you can promote your book and build awareness natively, meaning that you are not altering the habits of your target readers.
Here are a few questions to get you started:
- If you want to get really specific, give them a name
- Age range (reading difficulty, not necessarily your target age as you can target upwards)
- Gender (some books won’t appeal to as many girls as they might do for boys for example, though this is breaking down).
- What do they read?
- When do they read?
- How do they read?
- How do they find out about authors/books they haven’t heard of before?
- How do they get hold of new books?
- Where do they spend their time online?
- Where do they spend their time offline?
Then ask yourself:
- How can I get myself or my book in front of them without disturbing what they’re already doing (eg: consuming Youtube content)?
- Gary Vaynerchuk Keynote with Life on Fire – the Q&As covers the idea of getting your content in front of your target consumer’s native habits.
- Finding Your Perfect Customer (Your Avatar)
Find and ask people in the age range how they spend most of their time online. Then use their answers to determine where you should focus and what sort of promotional content (if any) you may need to create.
56 Don’t do Everything all at Once
Focusing on too many things at once means we get less done, or we take longer to master or understand something. Cutting down on our to-do lists, and cutting down on the things we’re going to learn this week/month/day helps a lot to make better use of your time and see growing results in the one area you did focus. In 2016 I have three goals per month, which feed into my big five wanted successes for the year. I don’t focus on each goal every day. I focus on one, but I do three things towards it.
I get more done, and I see faster results.
- 6 Months to 6 Figures (a book on goals)
- Action Planner (the planner I use to organise my efforts towards success)
57 Don’t Forget to Move & Eat Well to Increase Productivity and Ideas
More oxygen to the brain and less sugars making us sluggish means we increase our potential for new ideas and productivity. When I bought a Fitbit, it really helped me to see how much writing could impact my activity levels (as well as why I couldn’t focus – because I naturally fidget after a few minutes which leads my mind to get distracted).
I’m not saying you should go and get a Fitbit, but taking a few breaks every day if you write for long stretches to have a quick walk, cycle (on an indoor exercise bike or an outside bike), a jog, skipping rope/jumping on the spot or star jumps may change the amount you get done if used consistently.
58 Take a Notebook Everywhere & Sneak Your Writing Between Tasks
Getting more writing done in a time when we are addicted to being connected 24/7 to others through virtual interaction is not easy. It’s possible though. You can’t stop writing if you want to build your followers or grow your readership.
If you head away from your computer a lot, either because you’re going to school, heading to the office, or travelling, there are pockets of time when you can terrorise your characters.
These add up.
Think of it this way: if you find fifteen extra minutes every day to write, by the end of the week, that’s one hundred and five minutes – almost two hours of extra writing you got done! You could do this just by waking up an extra fifteen minutes early every day!
The notebook or device you use (I recommend an A5 notebook – the device can break, run out of juice or get stolen) can be a treasure trove of scenes. You don’t have to write them in order, or even connect your chapters, add description or figure out which scene the characters are saying what you’re writing down.
That can happen later, depending on your process for the notebook. Around my author folders, two idea books and three notebooks, there are a lot of disjointed scenes, sometimes with just the characters speaking to one another. These are tweaked later on, when I know exactly what I want to do with them, and other times, they’re just fun pieces that eventually end up in larger fun pieces I do for my own amusement or for in-world and character development.
- Motivation notebook with lines (Amazon link)
59 Realise Your Book Isn’t a Quick Earning Product & Being an Author Usually Requires Long-Term Patience before Seeing a Good ROI
Nothing bugs me more as a reader when I download an ebook and there’s so many typo or misspelling that it stops your reader experience from flowing. A few is fine, but they should be so tiny that ideally the reader doesn’t even notice or automatically changed the word (such as, “is” displaying on the screen/paper instead of, “it” like in a book I read last night and kept reading past the typo).
I remember when I first started buying ebooks (which wasn’t too long ago – 2014). One of the first books I downloaded on Kobo was full of misspellings and typos – on the first page, there were eighteen of these.
What sort of reader experience do you want to give?
One where the author didn’t give a toss about their reader?
If so, say goodbye to anyone who decides to get your book and then feels foolish for trusting you. They’ll never care about you, your books, worlds or characters again.
This is why it is a good idea to recognise that long-term patience is one of the strongest keys an author has in their arsenal.
You won’t make all of your production costs back straight away, and those need to be saved up for ahead of time. The next book may be bigger, so it will be even more demanding.
ROI (return of investment) can mean whatever you want it to. It can mean the financial return (getting at least the production cost back, or more), it can be the time versus the results, or it can be how happy the results make you. Being an author isn’t a quick game, and it’s the same for growing your followers and your readership.
That’s why it doesn’t matter if you give your book away for free!
Yes, you could look at it like this, “man, I had 49 downloads yesterday, that could have been £195.51 if it was at full price!”
Most of those downloads are A) people who will never read your book. B) people who would never have otherwise got a copy because bigger name authors get their book money, or their kids do.
Making something free for your fans and readers is a move to create a result. To get more awareness and some new fans you wouldn’t have otherwise had.
It’s also pretty neat for getting reviews from verified customers on Amazon (expect to give the book away for free and hustle for two months at least first).
- 6 Ideas for Getting Your Book more International Exposure
- How to use Price Promotions to Market a New Book Release
- Top Ebook Price Promotions Stats You Need to Know
60 Stop Listening to Whoever Keeps Telling You to Stop (Or Something Similarly Negative)
People do not “get” being an author or writer without being one themselves, or being an appreciative reader.
This means you’ll encounter a range of the following situations and questions:
- A relative/friend who tells you to get a, “real job.”
- “Is there money in that then?”
- “Self-publishing is cheating; nobody will take you seriously.”
- A relative/friend telling you to stop wasting your time/money.
If you read #34 above, you’ve already read the reactions from my parents both when I started writing and more recently after publishing. Expect them to be especially tough on you – they want to help guide you into being financially secure. My parents don’t understand how an author can make money, especially not if they’re self-published or working to become a hybrid. They don’t understand the strategies, funnels and research that it takes to make it work.
And you know what?
That’s OK with me.
I’ve since had two fanmails, 3 royalty checks from three distributors, have 1,627 average downloads per month, 14 ratings on Goodreads with a 4.21 average rating, 6 reviews on Amazon US (3.5 average) and one on Amazon UK (5 star).
I must be doing something right. Right?
Depending on the people you surround yourself with (voluntarily or otherwise), you may hear strong suggestions telling you to stop. If you believe in yourself and your book, treat your book as professionally as a traditional publishing house, and don’t give up, you’ll do well.
Learning not to listen to your nay-sayers early on helps you to power through whenever they tell you to stop or try to discourage you (hopefully you don’t encounter this).
62 If Independently Publishing, Decide on Price
When I was working with my editor preparing the final version of The Royal Gift for release, I already knew who my target readers were: teens/young adults. The main age range within that group of individuals would be in upper school, but some advance readers may be in middle school.
That meant I wanted my price to reflect their likely income – pocket money.
When I was a kid and before I got my Saturday job during my teen years, I would get £5.00 for contributing around the family home by doing chores.
Eleven years later, some kids are getting £20.00 (thanks to smartphone addiction). Teens I know mostly spend this on their smartphone on apps and data allowance. If they read ebooks, there may be a chance some of it will go to that.
So I promised myself that the ebook would never cost more than £5.00 (when it’s not free, it costs £4.99).
The paperback was another matter – I knew that it would depend on the printed length of the book, which is different to ebooks due to margins. I didn’t plan to make any profit off the paperbacks, but knew that these were a key component to my being an author – a lot of teens still read physical books. In the future, this isn’t going to be the case – there are kids in reception or pre-school who are allowed to play on tablets and can bring up Youtube videos like Ba Ba Black Sheep!
But for now, paperbacks are important in my 2016 – 2020 strategies for building awareness. My plan for paperback was to match the current normal pricing found in bookshops for paperbacks around the same length by traditional publishers – £7.99.
Knowing who your readers will be in the future, means you can plan to reduce the friction to them becoming your readers or fans by making it easier for them to buy. Don’t make them second-guess whether they should spend money on your book.
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