I’ve lost track of the number of authors I’ve heard from who waited until their e-book was available on Amazon or they had boxes of books stacked in a corner of their home before they started thinking about book promotion.
Only when they’re ready to start accepting money for their page-turner, true life story, or escape to a new lifestyle (today!) do they start to think about who might buy the book and how those people will discover it.
Don’t be that author.
Most of you write a book because you want others to read it. You have a story to tell, a message that must be heard, or information you know will help others. Yes, there are many who never intend to share their book with “the world,” but more often than not, even those people decide they should try to sell the book once it’s done because they’re proud of what they’ve accomplished. (And it is an accomplishment.)
Don’t waste any more time
The world isn’t going to stop spinning if you wait until your book is available for purchase to start promoting it. You’ll be at a disadvantage, though, because so many of the authors in your niche or genre – and especially those writing on the same topic as you – will have a head start because they built a promotion foundation before their books were available.
Here are nine things you can do as soon as you finish that first draft to lay the groundwork for a successful book launch months later.
- Learn as much as you can about book publicity and promotion. Even if you have support from a traditional publisher, your in-house publicist can’t do everything that needs to be done. If you want people to discover your book, you have to be involved. Get smarter by reading a book or taking a course.
- Research your target audience. Learn as much as you can about the person who is most likely to buy your book. Once you can picture your audience “avatar” – the one individual who best represents someone who will love your book – do more research to find out where he or she spends time both online and offline.
- When you know which social networks your audience uses, build a following on those networks. Pick the one or two that are most popular with your audience and learn as much as you can about how to use them effectively. (Pro tip: Just because you have a presence on a social network doesn’t mean you’re using it properly. Plus, the “rules” are always changing.)
- Connect with bloggers. Virtual book tours (author blog tours) are common and popular elements of online book launches. When you “go” on a virtual book tour, you’ll ask bloggers to share content related to your book on their blogs – a guest post or Q&A, an audio or video interview, a book review, and so on. They’re easier to schedule and more successful when bloggers already know who you are.
- Build an e-mail list. You’ll use your opt-in e-mail list to send an e-mail announcing your book, but you’d be smart to use it to stay in touch with subscribers on a regular basis, too. (Add yourself to the lists of successful authors to see how they’re doing it.) Remember that for anything other than a one-time communication, you must get permission to add someone’s address to your list.
- Compile a list of “key influencers.” Who is most influential with your book’s target audience? Gather names and contact information for people you will contact for a book blurb – an endorsement you’ll use on the cover, inside the book, and on sales pages.
- Create your book launch media list. You’ll send review copies and a book announcement press release to the media outlets that are most likely to review the book or schedule an interview with you.
- Create a Facebook Page. I’m not a big fan of Facebook pages for authors. They work better for other types of businesses – especially local retailers who can use them to post store hours and special sales or offer coupons. But you’re going to create one no matter what I say, so do it now and use it in part to solicit opinions on your book’s topic, share progress updates, ask fans to vote on cover options and so on.
- Add your book title to your e-mail signature. It doesn’t get any easier than just typing your book’s title after the word “Author.”
Begin developing the tools you’ll need at least six months before the book is available so that you’ve got an audience waiting to read your story as soon as it’s ready for them.
What else would you add to the list? Did you do any of this before publishing? Please share your feedback in a comment.