Congratulations! You’re an Authorpreneur! by Marie Lavender




Congratulations! You’re an Authorpreneur! by Marie Lavender
 




So, you've got a book contract. Or, maybe you decided to self-publish your manuscript. That’s great! Congratulations! Go out and celebrate!

After you’ve let this accomplishment sink in, you may be wondering what’s next. Well, eventually your publisher is going to assign an editor, a cover artist and a proofreader. If you self-publish, you will do some of it on your own or at least loosely control it by hiring out for those services. In both cases, you will probably have to write the blurb as well as a few other things. In any case, you will have a finished product to be proud of. At this point, you’re probably thinking, “This is it. I’m done. I just sit back and let this happen. The book is published, and that’s it.”


Right?

No, not really. The real work actually began once you signed that contract or made the decision to get published. Unknowingly, you became an “authorpreneur”.

Now, before you give me the eyebrow and think that I’ve gone off the deep end, that is actually a term and it’s used widely. It is a nice way to say, “Author, get off your butt. There’s work to do.” Just kidding. It’s a bit more complicated than that.


Hey, there’s the eyebrow!

“Marie, I practically killed myself writing the book.”

I know what you mean! Pat yourself on the back for a job well done. It is indeed an accomplishment to finish a book and an even greater one to get published.

But, there’s a lot more to being an author than writing a book. You’ve forgotten something vital. To be an author, you have to look at it both ways:

1)     You’re a writer. You love writing, and no one can take that away from you. It’s…well, it’s kind of a calling, right?
2)     You’re an author. “Author” equals businessperson.

That’s right. Once you received that contract and signed it, or even if you’re self-publishing, you’ve started your own business. Some authors even get a business name for their copyrights, but that’s neither here nor there. Essentially by taking on a pen name or even the “public identity” of your legal name, you are saying, “I am now this person, and this person is a business.” Not only must you conduct yourself with distinction as this entity, you have to run “you” like a business. Your books are products and you have to start thinking about ways to sell them.


“But why, Marie? Won’t the publisher do that?”

Not in every case. The industry has changed considerably. Authors are expected to do a lot of the promotion and marketing on their own. I guess it’s a little like working as a salesman and expecting your employer to “promote” you as a salesman. No, you have to reach for those goals and meet those milestones all on your own. Sure, your employer may offer more rewards for your accomplishments, but you achieved that goal yourself. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a publisher that does a few things to help like offering marketing tips or doing a little promotion now and then. A lot of it, though, you’ll have to learn on your own.

That makes the whole thing seem pretty daunting, right? It causes you as the author to ask questions such as, “How in the word do I compete with millions of other authors out there?”

Well, you have to try. You have to create a name for yourself and that, my friend, takes time.

Remember that part where you were waiting on your publisher to assign an editor? Well, that may take awhile as publishers are really busy. Don’t sit on your hands. This is the perfect time to start creating a name for yourself, a brand. Actually, the best time is when you’re still writing your book.


“Why do you say that, Marie?”

Let me explain. New authors these days have a major challenge when publishing. People haven’t heard of them at all, and, most of the time, will be less likely to buy books from someone whose name they’ve never seen before. Granted that readers are starting to accept indie authors more and more, but it’s still quite difficult to compete with all those big names out there.

Now is the time to make that name for yourself. But, how?

Well, you need a website.  There are lots of affordable options if your budget is limited. However, cheap doesn’t necessarily mean good quality. Do your homework. Don’t commit to anything until you’re sure you have the best available option.

You’ll also need a blog. Most of those are free. You want them both (the website and the blog) to look professional, but still eye-catching. You don’t need to have both. Some people even combine them into one site, and that’s great! But, I would recommend starting with a blog at least. I like WordPress the best because it’s very easy to navigate and the social networking share buttons really come in handy. They have tons of templates as well. With Blogger/Blogspot, you can’t share them everywhere and that just creates more work for you as the blogger. WordPress also tends to attract more readers because of its inner networking system. Assuming you already know what a blog is (and if you’re smart, you’ll start blogging for a lot of these reasons here), you’re probably asking the million dollar question by now.

“What do I blog about?”

Good question. Themed blogs are very popular if you want to keep your blog related to a specific topic. Make a list. What are you interested in? What would you like to talk about? You may not think you have much to offer the world, but I’ll bet you do once you really think about it. 


Whatever you do, do NOT make the same mistake as I did by floundering around for a year or so, wondering what to write about, before actually starting to write posts. A lot of things you will learn over time, but I hope to help you cut through some of those issues. Figure out what you want your blog to be about, stick to topics related to it, and try to write a blog post at least once a week. If you let it go longer than that, you risk losing your followers because you have nothing to say. Do you really want people to click “unsubscribe”? Just try to keep it current.

What else can you do before you get published? Guest blogging. As a writer, you have a lot to offer. You’re writing or you have written a book, for God’s sake! Don’t you think that makes you knowledgeable about something? And even if you’re not comfortable writing about “writing”, I’m sure you know other things. So, why not try doing guest articles on other blogs? There are a lot of Authors Helping Authors sites available now. It can’t hurt to put yourself out there. 

“Why, Marie?”

Well, on the one hand, it will help you create a name for yourself, which is the plan. When someone reads your article, they will most likely read your bio and links, wondering who the heck this person is who wrote this really cool article. Also, when someone looks you up on Google in the future, do you want one or two entries listed somewhere on the page or do you want them to find over six full pages of entries with different sites and blogs listed? Secondly, writing articles or guest posts gets you comfortable with blogging even more and after about five or ten of them, you’ll be more likely to think of something to write if someone asks you as a guest blogger rather than blink and say, “Uh…you want me to do what?”


Writing an article is a daunting task at first, unless you already have that kind of background. It still catches me off guard at times, but I’m definitely less apprehensive about it than I was when I first started. I even keep a list of everything I’ve done on my website here.  If you scroll down the page slightly, you’ll see a heading titled “Past Interviews/Official Reviews/Guest Blogs”. There you can see all guest blog spots, interviews or promos I’ve ever participated in. Some of my posts from my own blogs aren’t listed, but you get the idea. I keep it all in one place not only for my own reference, but in case readers want to check out one of the links.

Guest blogging is not a big deal once you get comfortable with it. There are also lots of sites that help you come up with good blog topics if you ever struggle.  The upside is that once your host explains what is usually done (and sometimes it’s right on the site for you to see), it is pretty easy to come up with something, and a lot of times they are very helpful in that regard. They may even suggest a topic. If not, don’t worry.

Don’t get worked up over blogging. Write in your own voice and it will flow just like when you’re writing a book. If a topic is very detailed, create an outline if necessary to keep yourself on track. Don’t forget to self-edit and read through it a few times for cohesive purposes.

After you publish a post on your blog (or someone else’s blog), it should have some nifty “share” buttons at the bottom of the post where you are on the site. Hopefully by now, you’ve already created accounts on various social networks like Google+, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Pinterest. Share to as many sites as you can, and don’t be afraid to share the link to discussion groups that are related to the topic of your post. Pay special attention to group rules. Some don’t let you promote certain things.

Here are some very helpful tips on blogging:


So, what do you do after you are published to keep creating a name for yourself?   


Oh, let me count the ways…

1)     Keep blogging. Your followers will look forward to your posts. Try not to disappoint them.

2)     Connect with other bloggers. Follow other blogs, comment on their posts if you have a moment and if they offer promotional services like guest blogging or interviews, go for it.

3)     Do a release party for your new book. It is almost necessary to do a release party for your book on social media. Whether you do it as a Facebook or Google+ event, you will need a way to let potential readers know about the book. Here are instructions on how to create an event with both Google+ and Facebook

Have you attended these types of events before? Maybe you’ve seen people posting about book releases, this party or that party on Facebook. If you’ve ever seen a “join” button, then you know what I’m talking about. If you get this kind of invitation on your Facebook notifications, consider joining one to see how they are conducted. In your event, you can offer a few giveaway copies of your book, and you can offer swag like bookmarks and key chains (or anything else you can think of). I usually try to keep with the theme of the book. Don’t just hand prizes out. Make your potential readers work or participate for the prize by answering questions or commenting on a post or picture. They will enjoy it more, and so will you!


4)     Consider doing a blog tour. Whether you set up your own tour by getting promos, guest blogs or interviews at different sites, or you decide to outsource to get a blog tour for your book, blog tours are a great way to reach new readers.

5)     Reviews. Most authors know how important reviews are, but some new authors believe they just have to wait until someone reads their books. There are also a certain number under the impression that their publisher will find reviewers for them. That’s not true. There are things you can do now, or even before the book release, to get reviews. If you have a publisher, you will most likely receive an ARC, or “advanced review copy”, for your own records. This is a good tool to use when seeking reviews from professional reviewers. There are a lot of book review blogs on the internet, just as there are some pricier options. I would never recommend paying for a review, though some authors do. To me, it’s just dishonest, like a bribe. It’s better to use book reviewers who clearly state that they “received a free copy for a honest review”. There’s less trouble on both sides.  You can also go straight to Amazon and look at top reviewers to see if they any have contact information where you can send review requests. 

Always act professional with reviewers. They decided to read your book; be glad they did. A reviewer may not always read your book. Maybe he or she is swamped, or they just don’t work with your genre. If that individual did read the book but didn’t like it, move on. Throwing a fit to the reviewer or bashing the book review site publicly will only make you look bad to all parties, including potential readers.


6)     Author/book profiles. What?  What does that mean?  There are far too many sties to list so I’ll only give a few that I can think off of the top of my head. Most of them you’ll just come across on your publishing and marketing journey. There are tons of sites that offer the ability to list yourself as an author. Some let you list your books, book trailers and even small book excerpts. A few even let you link your blog feeds or Twitter feeds to the account. Some don’t. Some of the most obvious ones are Amazon Author Central, Goodreads and, of course, having a Facebook author page. Did I mention that you need to come up with a decent bio (not too long, not too short)? Your publisher will expect this as well for your book. 

But, I can’t urge you enough to “get listed”. This goes back to the ‘tons of entries versus only two entries on a Google author search’ argument. You’ll thank yourself for having a bigger web presence.

Here are some you may think about getting listed on:


7)     Book cover ads. There are a lot of sites that offer you the ability to place an ad, some big and some small, usually with a book cover, buy link and book description. Some places charge while others don’t. Most are pretty reasonable. High-end options like this might be possible, but with any large investment, I would suggest you do your research. Some reasonable prices run around $10-25, depending on the length of time the ad stays up. Some are even free and if they’re not, a few sites will run specials at certain times of the year. Some sites are based on genre, while others will accept any genre. So, definitely do your homework.

8)     Press release. If you like, you can write (or hire someone to write) a press release for your new book. Some distribution sites are free. You can also use this press release when you contact newspapers or local media with regards to getting an article written about you and your book. Here are a few options:



9)     Social media kit. This is just a file or a list of things that will make your life a lot easier when submitting information to hosts for guest blogs or interviews. Consider including your author bio, author links, book blurb, purchase links and book cover image. Some authors include excerpts as well as captioning a few book reviews.

10) Scour the internet for articles that will help you promote your books better. If you see tips, try everything at least once, unless it’s out of your price range. It can’t hurt to use suggestions from other authors or book marketing experts.  I can’t even tell you how many bookmarks I have on these things. Indies Unlimited is a great source and I know there are many other sites.


11) Do a free promo on Amazon. Consider offering your book free for a few days. This can really drive sales. The key is that you must do a lot of promotion in advance to inform people about the free offer. There are a lot of sites that will let you briefly list your book if there is a sales special or free deal going on. The more promotion, the better and the more likely you’ll reach new readers.

Some authors hire publicists or PR firms to help them with their book marketing strategies. A lot of authors, however, do it on their own. Even if you have a publicist, it is still up to you as an author to maintain your site, your blog and any social media accounts. Post on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ with news or information about your books. But, don’t always advertise. Interaction with readers is key. People who look you up will want to see that you have active accounts. 

As you get more comfortable with everything, you’ll have “light bulb moments” about what will work and what won’t work. 


Trust your judgment, but don’t be afraid to accept or ask for help. There are so many tools available to help us as authors. Don’t be afraid to try new things either. You never know what method might be successful.

If you’ve already done any or all of the aforementioned options, I can only say, “Congratulations! You’re an authorpreneur!”

This is a list of other links that might help you in your publishing or marketing journey:


As always, keep reading, writing and promoting.  And have a great holiday, everyone!  :)

Blogger Bio 

Bestselling author of UPON YOUR RETURN and 19 other books. 2014 BTS Red Carpet Review Nominee. Finalist and Runner-up in the MARSocial's Author of the Year Competition. Honorable mention in the January 2014 Reader's Choice Award. Liebster Blogger Award for 2013 and 2014. Top 50 Authors on AuthorsDB.com. Winner of the Great One Liners Contest on the Directory of Published Authors.

Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for over twenty years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Marie has published twenty books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance/fantasy, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. Lavender just released Second Nature, a paranormal romance/urban fantasy, in December of 2014. She released Magick & Moonlight, a romantic fantasy, back in March. Upon Your Honor, released in late April, is her second historical romance. Her current series are The Heiresses in Love Series, The Magick Series and The Blood at First Sight Series. Feel free to visit her website at http://marielavender.com/ for further information about her books and her life. Marie is also on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

A list of her books and pen names are as follows:

Marie Lavender: Upon Your Return; Magick & Moonlight; Upon Your Honor; Second Nature

Erica Sutherhome: Hard to Get; Memories; A Hint of Scandal; Without You; Strange Heat; Terror in the Night; Haunted; Pursuit; Perfect Game; A Touch of Dawn; Ransom; Leather and Lace

Kathryn Layne: A Misplaced Life

Heather Crouse: Express Café and Other Ramblings; Ramblings, Musings and Other Things; Soulful Ramblings and Other Worldly Things
 

Author Links:

Books:

http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00Q7FWIWA

http://smarturl.it/uponyourhonor

http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00IRKN5P2

http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00I0D9LQ8


Comments

  1. What a wonderfully informative article. Thank you for sharing all this. As someone who had a book published last year and who is struggling to find sales, I feel inspired and encouraged by your post.

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