Publishing Advice for New Authors
So you've written a book and you're ready to become an author? Congratulations! Here's the advice I would give to any newbie and I hope you find them useful. And please remember this is just advice and every author works differently. When I first started out, I was fortunate enough to receive help from other the authors in our community. Since I often get asked for marketing/publishing advice, I thought I'd post this in the hopes to return the favour. So, here's what I've learned:- 1) Don't focus too much on your reviews—especially the negative ones. Remember, you can't please everyone and even the biggest authors in the world receive bad reviews/trolls. If you can, don't read any of your reviews and ask a close friend if they could go through them and send you the positive ones. I know this is easier said than done because, as authors, we want to know if we're doing well. But try to at least not read the bad reviews. Every author gets them. It's better to focus on the good in our world than the bad, right? 2) Which brings me to Goodreads. Don't go on there. It's for readers, not authors, and if you do go there, I guarantee you will end up feeling deflated. It can be such a toxic place for authors with the amount of trolls. I usually only go on to upload a new book -- but even then, I don't have to, as Goodreads librarian/reader/Amazon will automatically do it for you. It's just a really negative place for us writers.
3) Your book will probably be pirated. Unfortunately, pirating has exploded and it's now become a part of being a published author. DO NOT FOCUS YOUR ENERGY ON THEM. That's my advice and you don't have to take it. But this is how I see it: you can spend hours and hours sending DMCA notices to the websites, but sometimes they don't even take them down, and the readers who are reading the stolen material? They'd clearly never want to support you as an author, anyway. They aren't really your target audience. You want to build a tribe of people who support your books. You don't want any thieves lurking in the grass. So, I would suggest you drop their sorry ass like a hot potato and forget about them. You and your books are worth more than that.
At least 4 weeks before you plan to release the book, you'll want to work on what's called a 'Release Launch'. This is the best way to ensure you are marketing your book to the right audience and receiving the best return of investment (ROI). Week 1) First, let's kick the event off by organising a "release party." This is done by creating a public Facebook event and politely asking authors in your genre if they'd like to stop by for an hour/half hour takeover slot. When I did my first one, I had over 11 authors, 1 hour each, and it was EXHAUSTING. So I'd personally recommend 5-10 with half a hour each. Once you have a list of authors, include the line-up in the event's description, and start inviting people to come party with you. The authors attending will also bring their own readers. It's a fantastic way to get new eyes on your book and to just have fun. Second, try to organise some paid promo if you can or work with a promo company (like Vibrant Promotions, which I've heard good things about). The top paid companies I work with are: Fussy Librarian, Bargain Booksy, eBook Hounds, eBook Soda, Read Cheaply. Note that some of these require a pre-order/release Amazon link to accept your submission. I'm sure they will all require your book to be discounted. Fussy, Bargain, and Cheaply (I'm sure), all require a discounted book at the very least. Week 2) Start handing out Advance Reader Copies of your book (ARCS) to as many reviewers as you want. The amount depends entirely on you. But one thing to remember, the more you give out, the more chance you'll have at receiving honest reviews on Amazon. This is crucial for any new release. Books depend heavily on reviews. You might think "But I'm giving my book away for free, so I'll be earning nothing?" Well, like I said, you'll hopefully get an honest review out of it and those are so, so important. They are what attract new readers on Amazon. A legitimate ARC service I can recommend is Leslie Copland. She's friendly, professional, and efficient. Or you can distribute free ARC copies via InstaFreebie and then post in the InstaFreebie / ARC groups on Facebook. I wouldn't advertise the freebie on your timeline. You want your FB friends to buy the book on release day. :)
Note: For bloggers, they tend to prefer four weeks before the book goes live.
Week 3) Keep hyping your book release! You want to build as much excitement as possible. Consider doing a short pre-order, and post the link in promo groups. Personally, I limit my pre-orders to 3-4 days. It varies with different genres though. With cozy mystery, you can have a month long pre-order and it doesn't tend to impact your rank/sales. But for LGBT fantasy, with a new release, I go with 4 days tops. Also consider releasing the book at 99c and extend it no more than a few days after your release. But that's totally up to you! Basically, if you get a high enough rank, up your price when you feel ready. It's utilising your chart exposure and earning you more money than you would be priced at a discount. For every 5 99c sales, 2 full-priced sales will earn you enough. And I've been told that higher priced books receive more page reads via Kindle Unlimited.
This brings me on to Kindle Unlimited. The bane of some authors lives. Honestly, I've had a positive experience with KU and I actually earn about 70% of my royalties through this program. I would strongly suggest you consider going with KU. If you decide it's not for you, you can always opt out. Just contact Amazon through your KDP account to cancel. But I will say, KU is becoming increasingly popular with readers, and from what I've observed, every author I know earns more there. Please have a good wee think about it. Week 4) It's release day!! Promo, promo, promo hard in FB groups. Ask authors if you could kindly stop by their groups and offer a giveaway (or just drop your new release). When posting in FB promo groups, think about the amount you see getting posted every minute of every day. Readers are continuously flooded with them. You want your post to stand out. So try to post something short, snappy, and sexy (if your book has heat in it ;)).
The last thing I would advise? Please just try to enjoy the ride. You're doing something you've probably dreamt of your whole life. Yes, there will be those who try to tear your book apart. There will be plenty up and down moments. You'll want to rip your hair out at times and repeatedly wonder why the hell you're putting yourself through this.
But there are also wonderful things you will experience, like holding your paperback for the first time; seeing your book climb the Amazon charts; becoming friends with people you'd never thought of meeting, but now consider them family; publishing more books and growing more confident with every release. And, somewhere along the way, you'll find that you gathered a "tribe". It's these people who will be with you every step of the way. Focus on them. Not the haters.
I wanted to give a shout out, and also highly recommend, the professionals I've had the pleasure of working with since I ventured into self-publishing:
Cover Designer - Jay Aheer at Simply Defined Art.
Jay has designed every one of my book covers and her talent never fails to blow me away. She's become a beloved presence in our community and I highly, highly recommend her. I always go with her eBook and Print package, which costs $180 and includes promo images and Facebook banners: https://simplydefinedart.com
Formatter - Zoe Perdita at Rainbow Danger Designs
Fast, efficient, and affordable — I love working with Zoe! Her presence is vastly growing and I'm always excited about working with her. She charges $50 for both eBook and paperback formatting: https://rainbowdangerdesig.wixsite.com/rainbowdanger
Bloodstream Formatter - Stacey Blake at Champagne Book Formatting
Stacey's a wonderful person and I love her work, too. I had the pleasure of working with her on my Bloodstream series and I felt she did a wonderful job. I went with her custom novel formatting which cost $150: http://champagnebookdesign.com/
Katze Snow Wolf Pack - Sarah Jo Chreene
Sarah's popularity has exploded immensely and it's no wonder! Not only are her rates affordable, but her work is mesmerising and she is extremely lovely to work with! My author portrait, which included another 3 people (well, furkids), cost $90 and I plan to work with her on artwork for my novels: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1632598043499687
Bloodstream Artwork - Salem Beiruti
This was a dream of mine--to work with the amazing Salem on a custom artwork for my vampire series. His work is astounding. For a custom art, his prices are €400+ (depending on what you want) but you will not be disappointed. He listened to everything I imagined the artwork would be like, and he made it into something better: https://theartofsalem.com
I know how daunting this process can be, so I'm more than happy to answer any questions you may have. Please feel free to find me on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading!