Are you ready to see your book on shelves? (More importantly, are you ready to quit your day job and start counting those royalty checks?)
Here are seven tips to help you add “Published Author” to your resume!
1. Hire a Great Editor
Obviously, you’ve written an amazing new book that will be read in Oprah’s Book Club. But how can you be really sure that your awesomeness really stands out on the pages? Consider hiring an editor. Trust me — it’s worth spending the money to have a pair of fresh eyes to check that your story arc, character development, and grammar are all in top shape. More often than not, writers struggle with the introduction of a book and it’s painfully obvious to publishers. Your story and ideas may be clear to you, but not to everyone else.
2. Build Your Author Platform
Like it or not, you’re going to also have to add “Marketing Manager” to your résumé. You need to be have a solid online presence. Start with a blog. Share your posts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Goodreads. Post content that is shareable and easily linked back to you. Work on those followers and likes so that when it comes time to pitch your book, you can leverage that following to a publisher. If you’re not sure what to post, have a look at some similar authors in your genre. Are they letting their readers in on their writing process? Or are they writing a more academic book and posting relevant, insightful articles? No matter what your book and its style are, there is something for you to post about.
Writing freelance articles for recognizable publications is another effective way to gain some credibility. It’s also a good way to gain new followers or readers. Many websites and magazines are happy to hear you pitch a story idea. Be sure to do your research on the publication’s website, Twitter, or Instagram to find the appropriate editor to contact, then send them your thoughts in a personable, yet professional way. You can also ask other bloggers to let you do a guest post. (Just don’t forget to return the favor!)
4. Give Something Away
Create shareable content! Have you ever thought about doing an e-book? It is incredibly easy to put together a teaser for your book or a stand-alone short story in a PDF format. Make it downloadable from your website in exchange for an email address. That way, you’re giving people a taste of your talent while collecting valuable data and statistics for your future publisher. You can also consider making a fun book trailer for YouTube. The main thing here is shareability and measurable numbers — you’re looking for the viral effect!
5. Find the Right Publisher (or Agent)
Not all writers need agents. It depends on your author platform. If you’re a writer or blogger or celebrity with millions of followers, chances are that you’d benefit from having an agent negotiate for the highest royalty rate. If you’re someone who is not very well known, you’re probably not going to get better than the standard 10 percent. (Might as well not split that with an agent.) However, after the success of your first book, you should consider getting one who can help you make sure you find the right publisher for you. Where do they distribute? What’s their marketing budget like? What genre do they specialize in? The best way to find out is reading; read books that are similar to yours and check the acknowledgements. Many times the author thanks his or her editor. It’s perfectly acceptable to google their name and send them a personal email pitching your work.
6. Craft the Perfect Pitch
Now that you have the email address of your dream editor — don’t ruin it. DON’T be creepy! Be normal and personable. They want to find the next great piece of literature just as badly as you do. But remember, they also need something that they know will sell. Don’t be crushed if they don’t want to take a risk on you. Just pitch yourself and your book so that they don’t feel like it’s a risk. Tell them who is going to buy your book and why. Use your social media stats, talk about the industry and what’s going on and how you fit in. Also — Attach your WHOLE book. If the editor likes the first few chapters, they will want to keep reading and probably don’t want to have to email you to get the rest. Send either a .PDF or .DOC file with your manuscript. (Spacing doesn’t matter!)
7. Sell Yourself
One of the greatest tools a publishing house has to sell their books is the author. They need YOU to sell your work! Whether you’re doing readings, being interviewed on TV/ Radio, speaking at writers festivals or blogging about your next piece — you need to be able to talk about your writing in a clear and interesting way.
Don’t get down if you get rejected. One of my favorite quotes came from a New York literary agent, “This is a subjective business, so don’t be discouraged by rejection. Press onward and keep a thick skin. Entertainment may be filled with people who can say ‘no,’ but it only takes one ‘yes’ to make it happen.”