Writing the Story is the Easy Part

Okay, so writing the story isn’t exactly easy. But it’s much less complicated than the rest of the things that need to be done. Now that the story is written, what do you do?

Note that I write M/M Romance, so any specific examples listed here are in that genre. But I hope that many of these “steps” are relevant regardless of the genre that you write in.

How do you plan to publish?

Now that you have a story you are ready to send out into the world, one of the first decisions to make is to send it to a publisher or self-publish. There are excellent reasons for each. With traditional publishing, the publisher will handle editing, covers, proofing, and distribution. They will also do some marketing, but sadly you’ll have to do a lot of that as well.

Many folks these days choose self-publishing. There are quite a few reasons to do so: more of the money directly to you (this is a big one), more control of the creative process including edits and covers, less concern over rights if something happens to the publisher. In addition, there are certain sub-genres that are not going to be accepted by a publisher. But be aware that this will require up-front costs for covers, editing, and proofing.

Self Publish

Traditional Publisher

Media and Marketing

Here’s the thing. You need to be set up to promo. Get excitement building before the release, then really get it out there once the story is published. There is a “sales window” in the days following release that you won’t get back. And there’s a lot of groundwork to do before you start.

Social Media Presence

Facebook

  • Love it or hate it, Facebook is the source of many author interactions with readers
  • Early on:
    • Get involved with reader groups and get to know other authors.
    • Join a writing group for support and an early group of beta readers.
    • Follow review/blog pages to get an idea of the main reviewers in your genre.
  • Once your story is nearing publication:
    • Join a promo group ($) One example is Queer Romance Ink (https://www.queeromanceink.com/)
    • Note: you may also want to join a professional organization. You can join the RWA (Romance Writers of America) or the equivalent for your country as long as you have a completed novel, even if it’s not published. This puts a lot of resources at your disposal.
    • You may want to create your own reader group.

Instagram

  • There are a lot of “marketing” type things that circulate on Instagram. For instance, someone may put out a list of themes for the month. This is an excellent way to pick up followers.
  • Instagram can automatically push to Facebook and Twitter. There are also services that allow you to push to all the media types. Note that you will need to do some finagling to get your Instagram pictures to push over to Twitter as this doesn’t happen automatically.

Twitter

  • Start building your twitter followers. Follow other authors in your genre.
  • This is also a good way to stalk publishers. Editors will often tweet the types of stories they are looking for.


A Website

  • A website can be fairly easy to put together using WordPress or Wix. It’s a great resource to have, and many publishers will ask for the address. You will also want to have your website address in your bio. Have a friend (or two) review it for style and content.
    • You can create a site for free, but that will have a web address references WordPress or Wix or whatever.
    • To actually get a true site that is “yours” you will need to upgrade your account ($)
  • The challenge will be how will you keep the website up to date and relevant. A blog is an obvious method for a writer. Think of what your strategy will be. Some that are common:
    • Weekly writing advice post
    • Reviews and updates on new releases and deals
    • A serial story that is released weekly

A Newsletter

  • Because nothing is straightforward, creating a newsletter is not as easy as deciding on your content. The tricky bit is getting subscribers. There are a number of ways to use this, one of which is to offer “freebies” through services like Prolific that encourage readers to subscribe to your newsletter. You can use service like MailChimp to handle the technical part.
  • In order to legally send out a newsletter, there needs to be a physical company location. And unless you want that to be your home address, you better set up a PO Box. ($). Here’s a helpful post: https://www.self-pub.net/blog/why-authors-need-to-get-a-po-box/

Releases

  • Know when your story will be released. If you are going through a publisher, make sure you check and double check as dates can change.

Reviews & Advanced Review Copies (ARCs)

  • Compile a list of the big reviewers in your genre. Many of the big blogs require a request to review well in advance so be prepared. Check the information carefully on what is required.
  • If you have a publisher:
    • Find out where they are distributing Advanced Release Copies (ARCs) & determine what other review sites you want to target.
    • Find out how to get ARCs to send to reviewers and readers.
  • If you don’t have a publisher:
    • Determine what your ARC strategy is. You will want to get the book in the hands of blog sites as well as readers who will post reviews during your release push.

Control Your Own Destiny

  • If you are going through a publisher, your story will show up on Amazon and Goodreads. But you will have to “claim” it. Make sure to include your bio and author logo.
    • Amazon: https://authorcentral.amazon.com/
    • Goodreads: go to your book (there are instructions on adding one if it isn’t already there). Click on your name and then follow the instructions for “Is this you?”
    • If you went through a publisher, you will also want to make sure you have updated your bio on the publisher site – they will provide you with directions.

Have a Marketing Strategy

  • This doesn’t require an MBA and doesn’t need to be overly-complicated. But you should have a strategy.
  • Have your marketing images ready
    • You will want images of the cover you can use for a variety of promos.
    • You will want a logo to use – you can create your own or hire someone ($)
    • Have your bio fully prepared and ready to go.
  • Giveaways and Takeovers – This is where you rely on your friends and fellow authors to post information about your book in their Facebook groups or on blog pages. Know how many you want to target. A few things to keep in mind:
    • There is substantial overlap between groups.
    • Think about your story and it’s market. It may fit better with certain groups than others. Your contemporary romance might not get a lot of interest in your best friend’s Horror group.
    • How many do you plan to do? What do you plan to give away? ($)
    • Make sure you ask before posting anything in someone else’s group. Your own group is fair game of course.

Where to Find Help (i.e. I’m an author not a marketing guru)

Note that there are people who provide services to authors ($). Depending on what you are looking for they can run your newsletter or Instagram feed, provide release blitzes, compile and maintain an ARC team, and everything else.

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