I’ve Finished My Book! – What Next?
These are the things I’ve learned over the past three years through self-publishing my books. Once you’ve finished your book, checked and proof-read it and sent it off for a copyedit (yes, you should!). Then sit back, exhale, and take a moment to think about the next step – how to market, promote and sell your book.
My budget is extremely slim (contact me privately and I might tell you) – my biggest cost is on a thorough copyedit. I also invest in a good book cover (e-book and paperback). But to get maximum value from the copyedit, it is advisable to first have your manuscript read and critiqued by one or two trusted friends or beta readers. Get it as good as you can before engaging the services of a professional copyeditor. They will tidy it up and have a care for the overall smooth flow of your story.
As a matter of priority, get your book cover done and write a blurb for your book.
If you’re an indie author and intend to self-publish your book, you need the following things in place in the build-up to your launch date:
- A completed, proofed and edited manuscript. You may also have sent your m/s to trusted beta readers who can give you critical feedback. You can tweak your m/s up to about five days before your launch date – then you MUST load up the final version to KDP/D2D or other self-publishing platforms. Always best to launch with the final version!
- A list of willing fans/book reviewers to send your advanced reader copy (ARC) and hopefully get you started with some supportive reviews. The main platforms for reviews are Amazon and Goodreads. If you are a reader, you can link your Goodreads account to your Amazon account so that whenever you review an e-book on Amazon, the review is automatically replicated on Goodreads. If you read a paperback copy, then you might have to post a customer review on Amazon and then manually copy and paste your review to Goodreads. Also, Amazon (annoyingly) only publish reviews in the territory in which it was placed. So, if you are a British reader, like myself, operating in amazon.co.uk, then my book reviews will only be seen in my territory and not in other important territories like USA, Canada, EU countries, Australia, etc. You may want to politely ask reviewers to copy reviews to .com, although I understand Amazon are now making this difficult.
- A Book Cover. By all means have a go yourself – I dabbled with using cheap-and-cheerful designers through http://fiverr.com and making covers on the cheap, but ultimately remained dissatisfied with the outcome. I soon discovered the value of having a professional book cover designer to discuss my cover ideas with and then hand over to them to work their magic – sizes for your e-book and paperback (wraparound) are precise details best left to an expert. Also, your designer can choose a perfect font for your book – which becomes all the more important if you are developing a series (see my A Light in the Dark Ages series covers with consistent look and fonts – thanks Cathy Walker!).
- Get your ASIN (Amazon book number) as early as possible. It’s advisable to load your manuscript to Amazon using the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) http://kdp.amazon.com platform at least three weeks before your intended launch date. You can use their pre-order function and have your e-book available to pre-order before your launch date. This will, Hopefully, give you a sales spike on your launch day and also provides a platform for early book advertising and promotion. The important thing about using the pre-order function is that you MUST load up your final manuscript FIVE DAYS before your launch date (if you have made any last-minute changes). This gives you an ASIN (book sales link) that you will need to include in your guest blog posts and pre-arranged advertisements.
- Also, with your ASIN you can then get a universal link. This is a customised link, often with a short version of your book title, that takes readers to the Amazon or other online retailer sales page for your book wherever they are in the world. It makes it easier for readers to buy your book!
The two I use are booklinker.net (http://mybook.to/Abandoned) and books2read.com (http://books2read.com/Abandoned) Why do I have two? Well, I’ve been using booklinker for three years for just my Amazon-listed titles. In 2018 I joined http://draft2digital.com (who use books2read for their links) to make my e-books available on other platforms including, Apple i-books (i-tunes); Kobo; Nook and others.
- Format the paperback. Yes, if you’re doing it yourself, you need to use the platforms in KDP and/or draft2digital to load up your MS Word manuscript. You must re-format your e-book m/s and change the page size (eg. 5” x 8”) and include things like a numbered contents page, header, page numbers (footer) in a newly saved Word document. Very fiddly the first time you do it, but thereafter you have created your own template. Tip: get a ruler and measure the ideal page size you want in cms from your paperbacks. KDP offers your two standard book sizes. You will need to read up on setting margins, gutters and bleads. I think your book cover needs to be in print-ready PDF format for KDP, and the spine width is calculated on the number of pages – information you need to give to your book designer once you have it.
- Consider booking paid-for advertising. In some platforms, like Twitter and Facebook page boosts, you can define your target audience by relevant demographics and interests. Try BooksGoSocial and BookBub for ads aimed at active book readers.
- Free promotion. Since the launch of Uther’s Destiny in March 2018, I’ve been organising my own book blog tours. This involves identifying relevant book bloggers who review and/or promote independent authors, approaching them and asking for a guest author slot. There are some very supportive book reviewers out there who will be happy to fit you into their schedules, but beware, most take bookings between 6-9 months in advance. So, for my forthcoming book, Arthur Dux Bellorum, due for a 1st March 2019 launch, I’ve been booking guest blog slots since September last year. The other way to promote for free is through your own social media – facebook, twitter, Instagram, pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn; and your newsletter or blog if you have one. I have a monthly newsletter and my following has slowly crept up to over 60 emails (not much, but it’s a start!). If you are reading this on my blog and haven’t yet signed-up, please follow this link and get a FREE short story download! (incentivising people to sign-up is recommended) – http://eepurl.com/diqexz
- Write your book blurb. I approach this by reading book descriptions of other, similar books in my genre and getting a feel for how author’s entice readers to choose their book. It helps if you’re an international bestselling author (which I’m not… yet) – these tend to lead with ‘BESTSELLING INTERNATIONAL AUTHOR OF…..’ and then a punchy opening line to make you salivate. Others lead with a review quote from a notable source. I’ve just read an article that advises authors to marshal their thoughts by writing a brief summary description using the following formula – A (adjective) CHARACTER NAME + Intrigue.
So, mine might be, “A determined Arthur must learn quickly if he is to survive in Dark Ages Britain.” This could become your first line/headline, or a guide for your thoughts.
Make it easy to digest for skimmers – short, punchy sentences using power words to heighten emotions. Don’t summarise your book’s plot. It is meant to be a teaser that piques the skimmer’s interest. Its aim is to get those undecided readers to click YOUR buy button.
Here is my first attempt – please give critical feedback!
Arthur Dux Bellorum by Tim Walker
From the ruins of post-Roman Britain, a warrior and charismatic leader arises to unite a divided land.
King Uther is dead, and his daughter, Morgana, seizes the crown for her infant son, Mordred. Merlyn’s attempt to present a youthful Arthur as the true son and heir of Uther is scorned, and the bewildered teenager finds himself in prison. Here, our story begins…
Arthur finds he has friends and together they flee northwards, moving through a fractured landscape of tribal conflict and suspicion, staying one step ahead of their pursuers whilst keeping an eye on Angle and Saxon invaders who spill onto the shores of the troubled island. Arthur gathers supporters as he battles his way to a temporary haven at the great Roman wall. He gradually refines his image with help from his family and followers, learning the harsh lessons needed to survive and acquire the skills of leadership.
Tim Walker’s Arthur Dux Bellorum is a masterly retelling of the Arthurian legend, combining myth, history and gripping battle scenes.
Fans of Bernard Cornwell, Conn Iggulden and Mathew Harffy will enjoy Walker’s A Light in the Dark Ages series and its newest addition – Arthur Dux Bellorum.
- Make your own social media adverts using http://canva.com
Canva makes it easy by having the differing standard size templates for your social media posts, covering Facebook story, timeline or page posts; Instagram; twitter; pinterest and others. The three key elements of your adverts are: background, book cover, headline. I tend to place a clickable link in the body of the social media post. Here’s an example of a teaser ad in Instagram size for Author Dux Bellorum:
- Plan your Launch Day. Some author’s have Facebook parties, with competitions, free books or other giveaways, inviting friends to join them and post. This can help raise awareness for your book launch. Some authors have a price drop or even a limited time free e-book on launch to generate reads and reviews. Email your friends – make sure everybody knows! Aim to appear as a guest on important blogs and post in your Facebook groups. If you can afford it, plan some advertisements too.