New and aspiring authors tend to worry the most about the process of writing their book. Of course, this is perfectly understandable; as a writer, you should be primarily focused on creating the best possible story, right? The problem with this type of thinking is that it doesn’t necessarily guarantee a book’s success in the marketplace. Authors should be focused not only on building a great story, but also building a path toward launch by forming connections, establishing an online presence, and educating yourself on the publishing options.
Instead of offering advice about writing your book, this article will focus on the common aspects new authors overlook when it’s time to start promoting and publishing your work. With these 5 tips in mind, you can start to develop a balanced foundation that will support your career for years to come.
1. Edit and re-evaluate your work.
“As a full-time editor, I witness dozens of simple mistakes authors constantly make,” author and professional editor Blake Atwood states. “If only they’d take the time to learn and incorporate better self-editing techniques, they would become better writers, endear themselves to their editors, and maybe even save money on a professional edit.”
To improve your own work prior to submitting it to an editor, take some time to self-edit your book. First, re-evaluate the overall topics of your writing. Ask yourself if the book has a relevant, marketable theme that readers will be eager to pick up. If you believe that the book can fit in with current marketing trends and consumer interests, use the following tips to catch any technical errors:
- Read your work out loud. It’s easy to overlook a mistake when you’re reading silently. Your mind can easily gloss over instances of repeated words, run-on sentences, or awkward transitions.
- Double-check frequently misused words. Homonyms, or words that sound alike but have different definitions and spellings, can easily be mistaken for one another when you’re writing (for example, words like “there,” “they’re,” and “their”). Other authors might get tripped up by the differences between “weather” and “whether,” “your” and “you’re,” or “by,” “buy,” and “bye.”
- Diversify your word choices. Atwood says that most writers have a few “crutch words” that they tend to overuse in their manuscripts. Using a free word frequency counter, like TextFixer.com’s Online Word Counter or WriteWords’ Word Frequency Counter, can help you notice any crutch words you might rely on. You may be surprised to see how much you use common verbs like “said,” “saw,” and “feel” throughout your work!
- Cut out unnecessary text. Simply put, any text that doesn’t move your story forward should be removed from your manuscript. This can be incredibly difficult to do, but the last thing you want is for your readers to get bored with your work. Take a deep breath, try to stay objective, and don’t be afraid to delete entire sentences or paragraphs, if need be.
2. Research the best publishing option for your book.
Editor, author, and columnist Jane Friedman, who has spent over two decades working within the publishing industry, insists that there is no right or wrong way to go about publishing your book. “There is no one path or service that’s right for everyone all the time,” Friedman writes. “You should take time to understand the landscape and make a decision based on long-term career goals, as well as the unique qualities of your work.”
Other considerations, such as the amount of time you want to devote to marketing your book, your savviness with social media, and how much experience you have as a writer should all be taken into consideration as well. Generally speaking, however, hopeful authors should thoroughly research each of the main publishing paths that are available to them. These options include:
- Traditional publishing. In this model, the author receives an advance from the publisher, who then takes care of book distribution. However, writers often need an agent in order to be accepted by a well-known traditional publisher.
- Small presses. Friedman says that the definition of a “small press” can vary depending on who you ask, but these agencies typically don’t pay authors advances or invest in print runs.
- Assisted and hybrid publishing. These kinds of publishing agencies are the ones writers should be most wary of. The author must do the majority of the marketing and selling themselves, and the publisher rarely does anything to help the author’s book become stocked in bookstores. Hybrid publishers might take advantage of brand-new writers to profit off their inexperience in the industry.
- DIY self-publishing. This model gives the author total freedom when it comes to designing, marketing, and selling their book. It can be great for people who are enthusiastic about entrepreneurship, but it might not be the best choice for those with little time to invest in the venture.
- Social publishing. This modern publishing strategy can be found on blogs, online forums, and websites all over the internet. Millions of people write and post a chapter or two of their work at a time, relying on reader feedback to create the next part of the story. Although this doesn’t guarantee that you will be able to publish the full story once it’s finished, it will definitely help you establish a reader base.
3. Build your mailing list and online audience.
Spending time developing your email newsletters and encouraging people to subscribe to them will give you direct access to an audience who will be genuinely excited and interested about what you have to say. If somebody wants to stay updated about your latest work, advice, upcoming events, or other happenings, they’ll be happy to subscribe to your newsletter. To get started with this essential marketing strategy, you’ll need a dedicated author website and a thoughtful long-term plan to connect with your email subscribers. This goes hand-in-hand with establishing your presence on social media.
You don’t necessarily need to be active on all major social media platforms in order to attract an online audience. You just need to be willing to research who your target audience is, what kind of content they like to follow, and which platforms they most frequently use. No matter whether you choose Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Youtube, remember to do more than just post your own content. To build a loyal community, you need to react to other people’s posts, answer readers’ questions, share relevant information, and talk about current trends that relate back to your area of expertise. Simply using hashtags, posting at times when your followers are most active, and joining in on trending topics will help you get your name out there while establishing your online persona.
4. Choose the best social media platform for maximum visibility.
As briefly mentioned above, the best strategy for authors is to select the best social media platform that their audience is most likely to use the most. Choosing a single platform and working at it consistently by targeting book clubs and readers will be far more effective than trying to manage several profiles at once. If you’re not sure which one of the many platforms would be the most effective for you, here are some general guidelines for the major sites:
- Twitter. Twitter makes it easy for you to share links to your website and blog posts, discover current events to discuss, and find people with similar interests by utilizing hashtags. There’s also a scheduling feature so you can make sure your posts will be seen at the most popular times for your audience. Furthermore, it’s an easy way to get involved in writer communities and publish relevant industry news.
- Instagram. Instagram is known for its engaging “bookstagram” community, which is full of book bloggers and avid readers who will read, post, review, and share your both through their posts and Instagram stories. The only problem is that Instagram no longer allows you to link to other pages within your posts, which makes it more difficult to share content from your website or blog.
- Facebook. A dedicated Facebook group is best for organizing book clubs, and you can utilize your professional author page to build and foster community among readers. This platform provides a place for people to connect with each other and directly interact with you on a regular basis. One of the downsides is that finding new members to join can be difficult, and Facebook will repeatedly ask for you to purchase advertisements on their site to remedy this issue.
- LinkedIn. If you’re a nonfiction author, creating a solid LinkedIn profile can give you a great platform to interact with and expand your professional network, as well as share industry news through the blog feature. Think of it as a more detailed and personalized Amazon author page!
- Pinterest. According to author Penny C. Sansevieri, the founder and CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., approximately 80% of American mothers use Pinterest to find relevant content. Authors who create family-friendly cookbooks, books about raising children, self-help books for new moms, and even romantic fiction novels may find Pinterest especially profitable.
5. Expand your network.
Authors can’t focus solely on connecting with fans and potential readers in order to succeed. You must expand your network professionally as well, building authentic relationships with local booksellers, librarians, book clubs, and other authors. Establishing these connections can lead to other opportunities down the road, such as co-marketing campaigns and virtual events, as well as the possibility of being referred to for other projects. And expanding your professional network may be easier than you think, according to these authors:
- Erica Graham says, “Helping other authors can be as simple as reacting to and sharing social media posts or as complex as organizing group promotional events. Something simple I enjoy doing is author features on my social media and giving shout-outs to authors who have new book releases.”
- “Indie authors (small press and self-pub) need all the support they can get, and no one understands that better than other authors,” explains Karen Eisenbrey. “It’s not that hard to write a review, but it means the world to an author without a big publicity machine behind her.”
- When discussing the benefits of connecting with other writers, Alex Carver said, “Supporting others can lead to an improvement in writing ability, promotional techniques, and also expand your knowledge base, both in terms of publishing and book content.”
If you’re not sure how to start, take small steps. Create a website for yourself; a free one with a basic template will be enough at first. Create a professional social media account and start following writers you admire. Start reaching out to editors or book reviewers to look over your manuscript before choosing a publishing method. Remember, the writing process is a marathon, not a sprint. Take your time to make sure you finish strong.
About the Author: Evan Shy
As a published author, scientist, and the founder and CEO of hiitide, Evan has earned experience building teams and technology that help people live positively, better. Growing up in a family of professional athletes and entrepreneurs, Evan started his first business before leaving high school and would go on to found a number of wellness businesses while conducting physiology research and teaching at the University of Illinois at Champaign. His research has been published across scientific journals, college textbooks, and our own titles.
Evan’s own experience trying to make the leap from academic publishing to the general population was the catalyst for creating hiitide. Evan tells the story of how he did everything wrong, from writing, marketing, to building a community around the material. He knew the research had the potential to change lives if only they could make it more accessible and actionable for readers. Inch by inch, the team started testing, building, iterating, and testing again… through 2 different technology platforms, to finally build hiitide.
hiitide is a team of curriculum designers, engineers, marketers, and insatiable learners who are unwavering in their commitment to creating more meaningful and rewarding connections between authors and readers. Readers learn more, authors earn more.
hiitide creates 30-day virtual book clubs, courses, and workshops that draw out key lessons from books, delivered in short, easy-to-complete daily exercises, journals, and group discussions with the Author.
hiitide works primarily with authors equally committed to innovating new methods and stories that transform how we approach ourselves and one another.