THIS POST IS FOR WRITERS:
So you want to be a published author? Whether you’re planning to self-publish, submit to a literary agent, or submit directly to a small press, there are some things you should do before you self-publish or submit. Even for the latter option – submitting to an agent or small press – this will improve your odds of being accepted.
ESTABLISH YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE – WEBSITE & SOCIAL MEDIA – RIGHT NOW!
These days, every author must do her own heavy lifting when it comes to marketing and building her author’s brand. It’s just the way it is, and it doesn’t matter if you’re with one of the Big 5, a small press, or self-publishing. You must take charge of establishing yourself as an author. Don’t grumble about it (won’t help or change anything); just do it. Every smart publisher today looks at the author to determine if they have the right stuff to be successful, and that means not just that they’re writing great books, but that they’re engaged out there in such a way as to sell themselves, and that aforementioned work, to readers.
The nasty little secret about the Big 5 is that they’ve never really done much in the way of marketing new authors. They put the book into distribution and hope it sells. If not, they take the returns and shred them or forward them to deep discounters. A lot of new writers don’t know that. They think the great big awesome publisher is going to spend millions promoting their book and making them rich and famous. Uh… no. Not gonna happen. As for small presses, well… ditto. They just don’t have the necessary resources to make that happen – not without leaving you with peanuts for royalties. And even then….
The best you can hope for is a publisher who’s willing to apply as much sweat equity as they can muster, working with you to help you build your brand by… well, working.
As the managing publisher/editor at Evolved Publishing, I can tell you that we now consider the person every bit as important as the book(s) – perhaps more so. Publishers are looking for authors who understand that being an author means being an independent businessperson.
So do yourself a favor and get at least these 3 things done now:
1) Set up a professional Facebook profile and page. Notice I didn’t just say fan page. The reason is simple: Facebook has made fan pages largely pay-to-play entities – if you want anyone to actually see your posts, you have to pay to promote them. So be sure to have a profile that people can friend.
2) Set up a professional Twitter profile.
3) Create a clean, professional website. To be clear, you needn’t spend a ton of money here. If you’re technically proficient at all, you can learn how to manage a free WordPress site. Your only expense then will be your domain name and your web hosting service (unless you happen to know someone with a server who can host your site), both of which are reasonably inexpensive. As to the domain name, make it about your brand, meaning the name under which you’ll be publishing. If your name is John Smith or Mary Jones, you need a pen name. Just sayin’.
To be clear, there are plenty of other social media sites you may want to take advantage of, if you have the time and inclination. I would just say that Facebook and Twitter are the bare minimums.
Put your best foot forward when you submit your book. Sell not just your work, but you.