Fool if you think it's over.
So, you've handed your book baby to the publisher. They've agreed that final means final and no further drafts are required. Yay! Time to take a break. Drink some champagne. Have a steak supper. Sit back and wait for the call from Richard & Judy. The hard work is over, right? Wrong! It's now that the business of being a writer begins.
A very wise woman has been heard to advise writers to think of themselves as the CEO of their own 'business' – the business of being a successful author. Which, it turns out, is much more than simply writing an excellent book. I'm paraphrasing, of course, but the underlying principle is this: Ultimately, you are in charge of your career. Your publisher can do a lot, but you can, arguably, do a lot more. This is solid advice, because I'm sure I was not alone in thinking that, with publisher on board, I could just sit back and watch the sales and reviews roll in.
This, from Sam Missingham, is a cracking bit of analysis into how many 'traditionally published' authors are willing to spend their own money to promote their books. In conclusion, she says: "I see more and more authors empowering themselves in all areas, engaging with readers, building audiences and managing and funding marketing activity and understanding the intricacies of publishing. Personally, I think this is great and very smart of authors to own as much as possible. Publishers must offer their authors transparency as to what works and what doesn't so together they can sell as many books as possible."
Now, to get your message out there, you obviously need an audience greater than your friends and family, and that involves putting yourself out there on social media. Be interested, be interesting. Many hands make light work...
So, what's in your toolbox to help you (and your publisher) get your book in front of the most readers? What can you do to promote yourself? If, like me, your book is a 'digital first' release, there isn't even a physical item that you can tout around at festivals and book signings. So what's a writer to do?
Well, much of the promotion you can do happens online anyway, and the joy of having a book on digital platforms, is that there is a wealth of online data attached to your work that you can use to your advantage. Reviews, recommendations, quotes, tweets, shares. It's all out there to be celebrated and can all be used to help you get the word out.
Of course, you can always turn your hand to a bigger promotional venture. A blog, for example, or a newsletter. A billboard, perhaps? I'm not talking about just repeatedly shouting "Buy My Book!"either. If you've got as far as writing a book that is being published, you already have a wealth of insights to share with those aspiring to be at that stage in their writing career. So, share them. Personal experience, especially lessons learned, are invaluable to aspiring authors. You already know that. Start a blog. Tweet more. Share your interest in the world of books, publishing, other writers. Share in people's successes. Support other authors. Who knows, they may support you back. The important thing is to be active. Get out there. Be engaged. Be part of your own dream.
Now, stop prevaricating and get on with it. Finish that book! Promote the hell out of it! See you at the award ceremony.