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I Wrote a Book, Now What?

I Wrote a Book, Now What?

I Wrote a Book, Now What?

Picture this: you've finally finished writing that book that's been consuming your every waking moment. You're ready to share it with the world, but hold up – what’s next? Don't worry, my fellow wordsmiths! Here’s a birds-eye view of the steps involved, with links to dive in more.

Picture this: you've finally finished writing that book that's been consuming your every waking moment. You're ready to share it with the world, but hold up – what’s next? Don't worry, my fellow wordsmiths! Here’s a birds-eye view of the steps involved, with links to dive in more.

Picture this: you've finally finished writing that book that's been consuming your every waking moment. You're ready to share it with the world, but hold up – what’s next? Don't worry, my fellow wordsmiths! Here’s a birds-eye view of the steps involved, with links to dive in more.

1: Get It Professionally Edited

There are at least four different types of editing. The people who do professional editing are called editors. They are not called “mom,” “dad” or “my best friend who’s a stickler for grammar.” When in doubt, read this article on What You Can and Can’t DIY when editing your book.

Once your book comes back from the editor, then work, work, work on those revisions and make it fabulous. I mean, spit shine gorgeous.

2: Start Marketing

What so soon? Why, yes, so soon. With your first book, you may wonder how you could possibly start marketing if you’ve no book yet. The answer is that you market yourself as the author. You show up in places your readers hang out, you interact with them (in non-sleazy ways), and you begin to build a small following. 

You’ll also start preparing some of the basic marketing assets, like a landing page for the book with a count-down timer to launch date. Make sure to include an author photo and a short bio as well as a blurb about the book you're currently working on. You don’t need a whole big, expensive website. A single landing page can last you for a while. Once you have many books and a big author presence, then you can expand to something larger.

You’ll also sign up for a free newsletter service and embed a subscription form on that dandy new landing page. If anyone asks about what you’re working on, invite them to leave their email for updates.

Also, now is the time to start thinking about what the marketing plan might look like in the future. No need to nail down the details, but as you interact with readers, you may start to get some ideas. If so, that’s excellent. Keep doing that.

3: Choose Traditional vs. Self-publishing

Ah, and here’s where the paths diverge. There are a number of factors that you may consider when choosing an overall path to publishing. I’ve published an entire article on the topic, complete with flow chart (I love flow charts). But below is a summary:

  1. How much control do you want over the finished product? For example, if you’ve written a picture book, are you already married to what the illustrations might look like? Or are you a business leader that is dead-set on maintaining a specific tone and message? If so, steer clear of traditional publishing as it’s the publisher that makes all those choices. 

  2. How long are you willing to wait to see your book in print? When going the traditional route, it could take years, and possibly never happen at all.

  3. How much money do you have? Self-publishing is a business. As such, it requires an upfront investment into book production. The cost of a book varies so widely that I can’t give you an estimate here. But do the research and run the numbers. If you don’t have access to funds to cover your costs, you may need to go the traditional route regardless of your answers to the above two questions. 

If you choose to go the traditional route, your next step is to find a literary agent. For the sake of the rest of this article, let’s assume you wish to join the ranks of millions of indie authors and choose to self-publish. Woot!

But First, a Word To The Wise…

First, let’s clear something crucial up right away: you shouldn’t pay someone to self-publish your book for you. That’s called a vanity press. Sometimes they call themselves hybrid publishers*. No matter the name, they will take your money and all you’ll get out of it is a shoddy book, a bad contract, and likely a garage full of books that you’ll never sell.

The key to self-publishing is the word “self.” I know the amount of work is daunting, and it can be tempting to just want someone to take over and do it for you, but truly, my friend, you are best served by doing it yourself.

* I’ll make a note here that there is a class of publisher that is called “hybrid publisher” that is not a scam. However, the vanity presses have cottoned onto this term and will often hide behind it. It can be very, very hard to tell the difference. When in doubt: DON’T PAY ANYONE.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled list of steps to self-publish your book.

4: Produce Your Book

This is the part you will pay professionals to help you with. Not a “publisher,” mind you, but you will hire an editor to edit the book, a cover designer to design the cover and if you are doing a children’s book, then you will also hire an illustrator to illustrate it. 

Book production is not publishing. It’s what happens before publishing. Book production is where the majority of your costs will be. Can you do some of this yourself? Well, that depends. Check out the What You Can And Can't DIY When Launching Your Book series, which also covers design and illustrations.

5. Pick Your Printing Option

Technically, printing is part of production, but I feel it deserves special attention. You have three primary options:

  1. You can use a print-on-demand service like Amazon’s KDP, Lulu or IngramSpark. Every time a customer orders one of your books, these companies will print one copy of it and ship it out on your behalf. They also collect the money, deduct their costs from it, then send you whatever is left as “your share.” It’s completely hands-off for you after you’ve done the initial setup. But your per-book margins (aka your share of the sale) will be much slimmer than the other options. Still, it’s an excellent place to start if you want to test the waters.

  2. You can offset print your book. Offset printing is what folks think of as traditional printing. You have to order at least a few thousand books, which means footing that cost up front before selling a single book. But when you do finally sell those books, you’ll keep a much larger portion of the profits.This is an excellent option if you have reason to believe you will sell a few thousand copies. For reference, most new authors sell less than 150 copies. Ouch, I know. But if you have a big following already, or you are a very confident marketing machine, then the extra profits may be worth it.

  3. You can not print your book at all. Ebooks are an entire industry and there is nothing stopping you from releasing your masterpiece as an ebook only. 

6: Run An ARC Program

If you’ve never heard the term ARC before, that’s totally understandable. It stands for Advanced Review Copies. It’s an industry term with roots in the deep past. But while the acronym is a tad archaic, the purpose of an ARC program is very current. 

An ARC program is when you make pre-published copies of your book available to reviewers so that they might write a review about it before your publish date.

You can add excerpts of ARC reviews on the back of your book. You can use them in your pre-launch marketing. You can populate your book’s Amazon page with reviews before it even launches - now that’s social proof. 

You can find these magical reviewers yourself or, as I prefer, you can use a paid service to find them for you. Just be careful, you are not paying for reviews; you are paying for access to reviewers. Not everyone who reads your ARC will actually review it, many will opt not to. And not everyone who reviews it will like it (of course, if you had it professionally edited in step one, then there’s a much better chance they will!). 

7: Keep Marketing

Marketing is everything. It’s what leads to building your audience and making sales. With the basics in place from earlier, and since you’ll be gearing up to launch soon, now’s the time to really start amping it up. Tons of planning goes into the marketing leading up to your launch date. Here are some things you can do:

  • Finalize your book blurbs, polish your author bio and collect those ARC reviews

  • Make some images of your book cover for your website, to use on your social profiles and your newsletter

  • Update your landing page with all those new goodies

  • Start booking podcasts and organizing guest blog posts

  • Prepare all your launch announcements in advance for your newsletter and socials

  • Decide if you’ll be running a launch giveaway or blog tour and schedule any launch promos

  • Ramp up your engagement on the social media channels you’ve chosen to participate in

  • Write the text for your Amazon description page and make some visuals in Canva to use for A+ content 

If you think that sounds like a lot of work, and you find yourself thinking, “gosh, I should just go the traditional route, I don’t want to do all this stuff!”, let me just remind you: you have to do the marketing work whether you are an indie author or traditionally published. Marketing is always on your shoulders.

The good news is there's an app that will walk you through the daily tasks needed to get all your marketing and launch tasks done. Try Frontlist.io.

8: Publish Your Book

Hooray, this is the free part. With all the work you’ll have put into the book to get it to this point, it’s… a little bit anticlimactic. Publishing is simply the act of pushing the right buttons, usually in your Amazon KDP dashboard, and waiting for your book to go live. The more exciting part is when you get to…

9: Launch Your Book!

“Wait, what? How is launching not the same as publishing?” you ask. Let me explain. Publishing is a technicality, but launching is where all the fun is at. It’s the marketing, the fanfare, the tears of joy, the congrats from friends and family who’ve watched you toil to get to this point. It’s also best to plan your launch a week or so after your technical publish date.

10: Don’t Stop. Won’t Stop. Never Stop.

You started this process wondering what you should do now that you’ve written your first book. If you make it this far, your question should be what you should do now that you’ve launched your first book.

Answer: Keep putting in the marketing time. Write the next book. Repeat.

About the Author

Tara Kelly left a cushy Silicon Valley job to pursue writing. Since then, she’s published a book on UX design, as well as seven children’s picture books under the pen name Kelly Tills where she tackles topics like neurodiversity, gender, and why you shouldn’t steal bananas from a monkey. Tara is the co-founder and CEO of Frontlist.io where she helps other indie authors launch their books on their own, and without falling prey to the predatory underbelly of the author services industry.

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