Malik Sharrieff

Building Your Publishing Plan

Okay, let’s assume that you have either already completed a manuscript or at least made the decision to write one. It’s critically important that you work out your publishing plan as soon as possible.

Over my years as a publisher and literary consultant for indie authors, I have yet to encounter one that was ready with a publishing plan. So, I would be insanely surprised if you have even heard of the concept if this is your first project.

A publishing plan is for an author what a production plan is for a manufacturer.

After all, once you decided to be a professional writer or indie author, you decided to manufacture literary product for mass consumption. To that end, it’s important that you plan out how you intend to get that product from a single manuscript to the readers waiting in rapt anticipation.

I’ll try to give you a quick and dirty version of what you’ll need to get your plan together.

Step 1:

Don’t wait until after you’ve written your book to start learning what publishing is!

Many reading this will have just finished your manuscript and are looking for publishing options. It isn’t too late to create a plan, but the reality is that you should have created one before you came up with a title.

So, manuscript in hand or not, you need to wrap your head around what the publishing process is all about. Here’s a definition from a publisher:

Publishing = all of the processes necessary in order to take a raw manuscript and convert it into a finished literary product ready for distribution to a target consumer group.

So depending on your publishing strategy, this may include:

  • Pre-press activities like copy editing, manuscript review, formatting, generating cover art, test marketing, etc.
  • Press activities like converting the press ready manuscript to digital file formats ready for distribution as ebooks or for production as trade paperbacks, hardcover or treated for audiobook production.
  • Post-press activities like test marketing, establishing distribution and sales channels, marketing activities, public relations and advertising, and etc.
Step 2:

Now that you know most of the tasks involved in the publishing process, you’ll need to get a handle on who you are as an author.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do I want control over the publishing process?
  2. Am I willing to learn the necessary skills to manage these processes?
  3. Do I have a budget necessary to outsource these tasks to a qualified vendor?

The answers to these questions will let you know where you are on the indie-author continuum. On one end is the complete indie-author and on the other end is the traditional publishing path.

If you need to control the process, your publishing plan will lean more toward independent publishing. If you want someone else to take your work and handle everything but the writing, you’ll want to lean more toward traditional publishing.

The closer you get to the traditional end of the scale the less it will cost you in money up front but the more you will have to sacrifice in control and royalties. At the other end of the spectrum, you spend more money, time and effort but all of the rewards are yours alone.

Knowing yourself is the only way to choose the right publishing path for you. Also, know that as you grow through your career as an author, you publishing plan will likely change as well. In fact it might change from project to project!

Step 3:

Once you’ve got a handle on the process and your own disposition, it’s time to strategize how you will attack these tasks in a way that fits who you are as an author and as an individual.

It is absolutely possible for you to do everything yourself. It is also absolutely possible for you to get a publishing deal with a major publisher. However, most of us will realize quickly that we fall somewhere in the middle of the indie-author range.

This means that for every publishing task you encounter, you will need to look at two or three (or more) strategies and decide which one fits you, your situation and your budget best. Keep lots of notes on what you are doing, what worked and what didn’t. You’ll really appreciate the intel for your second project.

Final Thoughts:

As I said earlier, it is absolutely possible for you to get a book deal with a Big 5 Publisher. However, possible is not the same as probable. If this is your publishing plan, understand that there will be trade-offs and sacrifices that you will need to accept. Understand that this plan is not a bad one (it’s been around the longest), but it will require you to do a lot of additional tasks to get the attention of a major publisher.

Don’t be surprised if your particular plan takes time. At one end of the spectrum the time could be measured in hours; at the other it could take months or more than a year. The point you need to take with you is that this is not a trivial part of your profession. Take the time you need. Get the help and support necessary. Learn everything you can to support your level of professionalism.

Remember that being a professional writer, contracted or independent author is a vocation not a vacation, take the journey seriously and respect the process.

Feel free to comment or ask questions below, or discuss your past publishing plan(s).

Until next time, keep writing!

~Malik

P.S.:

If you have any questions, shoot us a note at the contact us page.

Malik Sharrieff

Write On Press is Accepting Submissions

By Malik Sharrieff

Beginning today (March 10th), Write On Press will be accepting submissions of short works of fiction in the following genres:

  • Contemporary Fiction,
  • Fantasy,
  • Sci-Fi/Afro-Futurism,
  • Romance,
  • Adult/Erotica

Short stories must be a minimum of 4,000 words and represent your best work.

If your previously unpublished story is selected, you will be contacted directly with full details. Selected authors will have their stories (submit as many as you like) published in the Write On Press Presents anthology for 2020 where your story and pen name will be marketed nationally at no cost to you.

Several authors may also qualify for a one-year paid writing contract with Write On Press.

To submit your short stories, just send us an email to:

authorservice@writeonpress.com

Attach your story as a MS Word .doc or .docx file. All communication and interactions between authors and Write On Press are governed by our Privacy Policy and its built-in non-disclosure agreement.

Please include, “Submission for Write On Press Presents,” in the subject line.

In the body of the email, include your full, legal name, your phone number, any sales pages or promotional links, a mailing address and a brief bio of not more than 250 words.

The Request For Submission (RFS) will close on May 10th, 2020.

Selections will be made by May 15th, 2020. 

Authors will be notified of their selection status no later than May 18th, 2020.

Contact us at: authorservice@writeonpress.com with any questions, comments or concerns.

Malik Sharrieff

How to Sell your Books using Social Media Stories

By Malik Sharrieff

Creating a Personal Brand with Social Media Stories

For the most part, internet marketing involves creating a brand and then selling products like your books through that brand.

But while this might sound dull, keep in mind that the brand does not have to be a bland corporate one. As an author, YOU are the brand! That’s right; whatever name you are writing under is your brand just as much as Nike or Coca-Cola. The big difference is that since your brand is your name, you can create a personal connection between your brand and the reader.

This is what’s called ‘personal branding’ and really the only way an author can promote themselves.

Of course, as an author, you can (and should) promote each title you publish. However, it is infinitely easier to grow and maintain an audience of fans who love you (the brand) instead of just one of many titles you’ve published.

The good news is that thanks to tools like Social Media Stories, personal branding is easier than ever before.

So What are Social Media Stories?

Social Media Stories are short form posts that users can post to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and some other accounts, and then disappear after just 24 hours. The idea of this is that it creates an immediate and urgent form of communication, and a much more real-time back-and-forth between the creator and their fans.

This is PERFECT for building a personal brand, as it allows you to effectively ‘invite’ your followers and fans into your routine, thereby giving them a chance to know the real person behind the books and stories they’re buying. This can drastically increase trust and drive many more sales.

Advantages

One advantage of a personal brand is that it can make you famous. Building exposure for your author’s credit/personal brand is the key to turning an interested, potential reader into a fan; and then into an evangelist!

Another advantage is that it gives your brand personality. This means that when you interact with someone on Twitter or Facebook, they’ll feel like they’re talking to an actual human being rather than just being the recipient of “salesy,” market speak. That in turn means they’re more likely to trust you to deliver quality.

It’s definitely worth considering including yourself a little more in your marketing and if you’re interested, pay close attention to the web’s big names to see how they’re making it work for them!

It’s just good marketing to find ways to make yourself more human and relatable to your readers. Using Stories to show yourself hard at work on your current project or perhaps enjoying a break with some drinks after wrapping up a really difficult chapter is a great way to build relationships with your audience.

Using Images in Social Media Stories to Engage your Readers

An image will create an emotional impact in a reader, and can deliver a huge amount of information in a second. If you land on a homepage and see a large image that clearly communicates what your book or chapter or event is about, then you will much more quickly know if there’s any point hanging around.

Moreover, images like this elicit an emotional response – which can often translate into a sale. Whether it’s anxiety, dissatisfaction, inspiration, desire, or jealousy… all these things can make us click “buy,” and help us understand that your book is the one that will entertain and engage the most.

Images – and especially Social Media Stories – are ideal for letting an audience get to know you, which in turn is perfect for building trust and increasing engagement.

Speed 

Better yet is how quick and easy posting a Story to Instagram is. Most mobile devices will allow you to simply share an image straight from your camera or photo gallery and as its all visual there’s no need to think of anything witty to say. You literally just point and click then hit upload to make your point and start getting views. There’s no expectation either for you to upload something every day, so you won’t risk making an account that immediately looks and feels like a ghost town. While many successful indie-authors recommend two posts daily, my experience shows that this can actually be overkill and that two a week is enough!

Compared to something like a blog post – or even a Twitter tweet, Instagram really doesn’t require much of an investment of time and will let you rapidly create a following for yourself. And seeing as you can easily share your Instagram images to Facebook and Twitter this can even make it easier for you to keep on top of those accounts as well. This is a big reason that many celebrity authors have taken to Instagram and Twitter over more complex social sites like Facebook – it lets them stay in touch with millions of fans while maintaining their hectic schedules.

Focus on Instagram for Social Media Marketing… Here’s Why:

Instagram is all about making your everyday life look more attractive and bringing out the artistry in your smallest and most mundane moments. Sitting on the grass by the lake in the sun can be made into a beautifully poetic image, while a cup of coffee on the window sill can feel as though it tells the world’s greatest story.

This makes Instagram ideal for a marketing your fiction and non-fiction volumes, as it invites readers to see your brand and books as equally idyllic. And you can take that same approach to the rest of your social accounts when you use Stories.

Instagram makes it incredibly easy for other users to find and like what you upload. Because images stand out so vividly on Instagram it’s considerably easier for users to find your images by searching for different tags, and you’ll find it’s relatively easy to get up to a hundred likes even early on if you choose smart keywords. Images also lend themselves easily to viral memes which certainly doesn’t hurt either.

If you can create a meme of your own, then this will do wonders for your business. In fact #meme is a highly popular tag and there are several accounts such as ‘Memebase’ that can help you to spread these images quickly.

Here’s another great tip for going viral on Instagram: try to stay relevant to current events. People will search for things like ‘Olympics’ and ‘World Cup’ during key seasons and this creates a great opportunity for exposure.

I’ve had a number of authors balk at using Instagram for their book and brand marketing. The major complaint is that the only image they associate with their book or brand is the cover or the bio pic that appears on the back cover. This is extremely short sighted. If you are a talented writer of any genre, then every part, chapter and section of your book should be creating vivid imagery in the mind of your reader. You wrote those images in, so use them to promote your book on a visual platform like Instagram!

If you can’t find at least 40 images in every 80 pages you write, you probably should consider hiring a writing coach.

Create images from scenery, characters, actions and interactions from within your book as well as images of your creative process. Capture images and make stories from the publishing and distribution process, the marketing process or anything that will engage the reader and make them part of the journey. Once they are following you, selling them your latest book will be easy.

Use Social Media Stories or Get Lost in the Feed

The benefits of Stories right now are huge and near endless.

First, on both Facebook and Instagram, Stories appear above all other content in large rectangular icons. This makes them very easy to see, and that helps them stand out. Yes, you do want to stand out.

And this has never been more important at a time when both platforms are de-emphasizing brand content in home feeds. The Instagram feed for example is now predominantly made up of the content that users show an interest in.

Conversely, Stories are shown in chronological order, making it easy for you to stand out.

Another big benefit of Stories is the short duration. This means a couple of things. This means that you don’t need to worry about creating a beautiful image that is going to live on your page forever. If you want to post something quick and dirty, then this is the perfect way. If you want to post something off topic, perhaps even a little off-brand, this is the safest environment for that.

Another advantage of this is that it makes it more exciting for users. Users will typically act much quicker to view a Story because A.) it tends to be more personal in nature, and B.) they know they only have a limited time to see it. This leverages that powerful feeling we all know as FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out!

The best part about Stories though, is the way in which they allow you to engage with your audience. Stories allow you to post about your day, to show your personality, and to reveal a little bit behind the curtain. This is huge from the perspectives of the follower, as it allows them to feel that they know you, and understand you a little better. This drastically increases the likelihood that they might buy from you, which is of course precisely what we’re going for!

The big advantage of Stories is not just for increasing followers and fans, but for building stronger relationships with those that already exist.

Additional Resources

I understand that marketing your brand and latest book project using a new strategy like Social Media Stories on platforms like Facebook and Instagram might be a little intimidating for authors exploring marketing options. I want you to keep just a few things in mind as you move forward in your promotional efforts:

  1. Quality marketing does not necessarily have to cost a lot,
  2. If you can write a book (any book), then you can definitely tackle social media, and
  3. If all else fails, outsource it!

Yup, even though the best way to implement the strategies suggested above is to do it yourself, you can always hire a social media manager from fiverr.com or Odesk.com.

Also, there are very inexpensive courses and software packages that can get you started for just a few dollars.  The Power of Social Media Stories for Marketers is a really good one. Click here to check out the sales page. At the time of writing this article, the purchase price is less than $20.00 for a very extensive training on developing and marketing your brand and books using Social Media Stories. The course includes a ton of info and resources and is a step by step “how to” on using Social Media Stories on a number of platforms.

If you use this or any other paid resource for marketing, I encourage you to do your research on what the product includes and what benefits it offers before purchasing. Read reviews and perform your due diligence to avoid buyers’ remorse.