I entered this industry knowing nothing! I didn't have blogger support for my first release, I didn't know about teasers, I didn't know indie authors could hire editors, I KNEW NOTHING! I had a lot of support in those first few months after publishing my début novel and I believe in passing that knowledge on. So that's what this blog is about, paying it forward.
Here's a bit of advice for the authors who are in the process of dipping their toes in the murky waters of self-publication and let me be clear, sometimes, something that works for one person doesn't work for another. These are just some general tips that I hope take some of the weight off your shoulders.
#1 DON'T SWEAT IT - Yup, my first and most simple piece of advice is chillax! A couple of the authors who have reached out to me lately have already got themselves tied in knots, and they're not even published yet. If you're not feeling the words, don't force them. Don't worry that they're not there, they'll come back! Trust me, we all have dry spells from time to time and the best thing you can do is back off and relax. Write a blog instead, write a poem, heck, DON'T WRITE A DAMN THING! Give yourself a break, this is not a race and if you write like it is, it will show in your writing.
#2 QUALITY FRONT STORE - If you have two restaurants side by side, one all blinged out with pretty pictures on the window and an epic sign, the other a little old fashioned and dowdy, which one are you likely to try? THINK OF THAT RESTAURANT AS YOUR BOOK COVER! Your cover is the front window to your store and you want it to appeal to the masses, you want that cover to stop traffic and make people take that ever important first step to read your menu...or in this case blurb. Try not to be cliche, always imagine your cover as a thumbnail and make sure it's easy to read and identifiable. Think outside the box, is there a central theme, object or tag line you could grow something from? Perhaps use an object rather than a person. Indie Solutions by Murphy, Soxsational Cover Art, Graphics Covered <--- shameless self promotion, are just a few cover artists just dying to work with you and make your pretties all shiny.
#3 EDIT THAT MOFO - If you take anything away from this blog, please take this, HAVE YOUR MANUSCRIPT PROFESSIONALLY EDITED! Oh my god, I had no editor on my debut novel, Saving Ella, and I was crucified! I was so lucky the story was strong enough to get me descent reviews but the minute AmyJohnson (an editor from Texas) reached out to me, I never looked back. Professional editors are not something only traditionally published authors can gain access to. There are so many out there just busting to turn your words into polished gold. My own magic Texan, Lauren McKellar, Hot Tree Editing are just a few, there are literally hundreds more! Go forth and find your editing buddy...bond...merge...be one with each other.
#4 BLURB IT DOWN - The hardest thing you'll ever do as an author is turn your entire, 70,000+ words book into one small paragraph. IT'S HARD, but doable! Try to keep your blurb short and snappy. Think of words and phrases that might be mysterious, and yet exciting. The idea here is to draw your reader in much like a carny draws in prospective players. Look to seduce a reader in as few words as possible. Go on, you can do it!!
#5 NUMBERS - I know, we wordy people tend to shudder at the thought of numbers, but becoming a professional writer means you are going to need a few numbers. EIN, W-8BEN, ABN...some of the numbers will depend on the country you are in, so ask your accountant for some advice here.You will most definitely need an EIN though, and a W-8BEN form to send to your platform distributors such as KDP, Createspace, Smashwords and or D2D. Check out this blog for some great links and helpful advice on acquiring all the yucky numbers you will need to get started - BOOKWORKS. Also, open an account with Payoneer, this is the easiest and fastest way to be paid your royalties from Amazon.
#6 PROMOTION - I hear a universal grumble from all the published authors. Promotion and marketing can get tiring, frustrating and...did I mention tiring? Take a break from time to time, but in all honesty, promotion is never ending. Reach out to bloggers and make friends. Utilize a tour company if you can afford it to help relieve some of the pressure There are many affordable companies out there willing to help, Nicole's Author Services, FMR Book Grind, Eye Candy Bookstore are just a few, the list is almost endless. Use tools such as Facebook BOOSTS, and just a hint, re-boost the boosted post, you will definitely see results. Facebook and Twitter Advertising can have it's advantages and is not outrageously expensive. Beware of what images you use for such marketing though, they have a strict no porn or fucking swearing policy. There are also hundreds of websites that have enormous databases where you can advertise your books and sales. Robin Reads, BookBub, Ereader News Today are just a few.
#7 TALK TO US - We are not scary, otherworldly beings with frightening powers of destruction...at least most of us aren't. Don't be afraid to reach out and talk to already published authors. Most of them are happy to give you advice and point you in the right direction. Be aware though, if you PM CoHo asking her if she likes your new cover and you don't hear back, it isn't because she doesn't love you, it's because she has thousands of PM's and notifications a day and it's tough wading through the thick waters of social media and answering EVERYONE.
#8 SCAM AND SWAG - I'm combining these because they both start with the letter 'S', not because the two are related (this is how I multi-task). There will be tonnes of spam just waiting to try and catch you in their nasty web. Offers that sound too good to be true often are, too good to be true. DON'T SIGN ANYTHING until you've had a chance to ask for legal advice. And as for swag, don't worry that your table at your first signing isn't buried under swag. You don't need all the swag. I'm going to let you in on a little secret...the readers have come to see you, not the swag. They want to take home your book with a personalized autograph, maybe a cute little bookmark and possibly a photo. It's a connection with the author who made them feel all those 'feels' that they're after, not your keyrings.
Okay, those are the probably the biggest and most valid points that need to be addressed, the rest will come as you walk the authors dream. I am no NYT best selling author, I've only reached the fringes of USA Today and the Amazon Top 100, and I've only been published since 2012. There are others out there with more experience, different advice and their own stories to tell. Network with authors, attend signings, ask questions! Poor Kelly Elliot got stuck next to me at my very first signing and I chewed her cute little ears off with never-ending questions. She answered every one of them and a few I didn't think to ask.
So, go forth and write your baby, let it grow, let it mature into a professional piece of literature and unleash it onto the world. Don't dwell on rankings, even some of the worlds best authors have had shit rankings. Goodreads is a reader community, not an author community, don't hang out there and read reviews because there are going to be a few 3 stars or lower that break your heart. That's life in this world and you need to thicken your skin, hold your head high, learn, move forward and bury yourself in your next project.
Be bold, be beautiful, be honest, and you'll go far.