Malik Sharrieff
Congratulations on publishing your manuscript! Now what do you do?

One of the biggest challenges for independent authors is what to do once their latest project is published and available for sale. Of course you’ll need to make sure your target readers know that their newest book-crush has released something new.

Now without getting into all your choices, let’s look at some basic things you can do to surround yourself with enough education and experts so you never have to wonder: I’m published, now what?

Keep these suggestions in mind:

1) There are a lot of marketing choices and if you’re not sure which one to choose here’s a tip: if it seems too good to be true it probably is. Stay away from hype because hype rarely pays off. Ask for references, and talk to other authors.

2) You can find a lot of information online if you’re willing to do some research. Whether you’re looking for promotional ideas or people to help you promote your book you should definitely Google them first and see what you can find.

3) Find someone you trust to talk you through the process. Whether you hire someone or met someone in your writing group, find someone you can bounce ideas off of who knows the industry and understands current book marketing trends. Employing or contracting with a marketing or publishing consultant is usually money well spent and you’d be surprised at how inexpensive high-quality, actionable advice can be.

4) Don’t live in a vacuum. Get out and meet other published authors. Go to writers conferences, check out your local PMA listings (Publisher’s Marketing Association) and consider joining them on a national level. Also SPAN (Small Press Association of North America) is another fantastic organization to join. Both of these places offer a monthly newsletter with tips, articles, and advice columns.

Keep reading for the literary ‘Money Shot’:

5) Do some online networking via publishing and book marketing forums. I love LinkedIn’s book groups, but almost every major social media platform hosts groups for indie authors and professional writers.

6) Network with local independent bookstores. I know that the indie bookstore isn’t as popular as it once was. However, they are making a comeback. It may take as little as a conversation or two to get your book placed on their shelves. If you are really good at negotiating and not afraid to offer the owner/manager point of sale material (POS, i.e.: posters, fliers, postcards, or bookmarks and etc.), you can really attract the attention of a loyal group of readers.

Most indie booksellers will sell your book on consignment for 40% of the receipts. So, if you don’t mind working with the owner you could stand to make money while getting some brand exposure.

Of course, once you get one bookstore, getting your book placed in multiple locations becomes easier. Not to mention approaching a major bookseller like Barnes & Noble becomes much easier once you can show sales numbers in their local market.

7) Get your book reviewed: maybe this sounds like a no-brainer but you’d be amazed how many authors forget this step but it’s important and here’s why: people like what other people like. What someone else says about your book is a thousand times more effective than anything you could say.

Do reviews sell books? Well, yes I believe they do and here’s why: if your book is on Amazon or some other online portal and no one’s talking about it a potential new reader might not be motivated to buy. Readers rarely buy “naked” books.

Here’s the #1 Pro Tip of the Day:

I always advise indie authors to create a support team that includes 6 to 12 dedicated reviewers. These aren’t professional reviewers, just people in your network that would be willing to buy, read and review your book. If you are distributing through Amazon, you may have to offer your team a discount coupon or some other sweetener. For example, a catered social gathering to discuss the book once their reviews have been submitted could be a great idea. You could also record the event and now you have additional marketing assets.

Outline a few goals and hit the promotional “road”: keep it simple and keep it realistic (a 3 – 5 page marketing plan is plenty). Long, complicated marketing plans are not only tough to stick to, they’re probably gonna cost you a bundle.

Plan your budget, then work your plan:

Speaking of money, establish your budget early and stick with it. If you are planning a six month writing effort and have $20 on day one, how much cash will you be able to save during the writing process so that you can pay for marketing after you finish your manuscript… $20 each week or $200 each month? It all adds up and knowing what you have to work with will help you plot your best strategy without going broke.

I believe the best time to plan your marketing effort is BEFORE you write your book. In fact, knowing your target reader is both a major part of designing your marketing plan and your book projects.

Start your planning early and keep your focus. You’ll do great!

Feel free to comment or ask questions below, or discuss your marketing tactics after publishing your manuscript.

Until next time, keep writing!

~Malik

P.S.:

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