Wow. Just wow. I'm overwhelmed with the amount of information that is "out there" for the indie newbie, like yours truly. The more I read about how Joe Successful, Author, got his start, the more I feel like the minnow in the pond. Or maybe the amoeba in the pond...
With every drop of information I manage to suck down, I realize just how freakin' many mistakes I've made. No, I didn't get my social media up and running months ahead of time before publication. In fact, the day I sent my book off into cyberspace for public viewing is the day I opened my Twitter, Facebook and Blogger accounts *embarrassed giggling* Honestly, I was just so amazed that I had actually finished something (ADD victim here), much less a 272 page book, that I just sort of freaked. I literally wrote the last line to the book, hit "save" and then clicked over to Amazon to see what was next. HA! What a douche.
But now, thanks to so many absolutely amazing, giving, wonderful people out there in social media land lending their expertise and yes, their newbie what-not-to-do advice, I am learning. Slowly, yes, but learning nonetheless.
Here is some sage advice I'll pass on to you, cuz now you're even more of a newbie than me nyah-nyah:
PROLOGUE (what? A prologue for a blog?? It's only cuz I'm too lazy to renumber everything after I thought of this): Plan a pre-publication budget of around $600-1000. Yeah, I know. It sucks. If you have to, start saving your pennies, quit going to Starbucks, apply for a low-interest credit card, collect cans on the side of the road. But you'll need that much for the pros you'll want to hire, and advertising.
1) MONTHS before (not the day of, derrr) your planned or assumed (hoped for even) publication date, open social media accounts. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, Goodreads are all good places to start. (More on what to do once you're "there" down below--next post). Once you've got your foot in the door at these places, start talking about your up and coming book. Read blogs. Chat with other authors. Get feedback. Ask questions. You'll be amazed at how helpful other authors are. They realize that this isn't a competition--readers aren't going to buy just one author's books, so there isn't any need to worry about "stealing customers." Authors know that the more they scratch your back, the more you'll scratch theirs. Everyone wins here.
2) MONTHS before (see above admonition), start a website. Buy a domain name. I use GoDaddy, because, frankly, they're cheap and easy. I like cheap and easy. Makes me feel right at home. They even have a service called "Website Tonight" to help you get a site up and going if you don't speak html. You might want to invest in a website guru to help you. There are plenty around, just Google them.
3) MONTHS before (up there ^ yawn), hire an editor to edit your book. Yeah, I know you have spell check. You won the National Spelling Bee when you were just eight. You have a PhD in English Literature. Whatev. Personally, I think I am the goddess of catching mistakes (I'm a medical editor in the real world). BUT, the problem with editing your own stuff is your brain is reading what it THINKS you wrote and not what you really, truly managed to type. Trust me. Professional editors aren't cheap, but they're worth it.
4) MONTHS before (yada yada), hire a designer for your book cover. Don't think you'll get away with slapping an iStockphoto up with a funky font and call that your book cover. It won't cut it. Plan to spend $300-500 for a designer. Because I'm fairly proficient with graphics programs, I did my own. While it's not bad, it's not professionally done, either. I will most likely be having someone redo it soon.
5) MONTHS before (this is getting old, huh?) start seeking reviews. Goodreads is a good place to start. There are groups that are specifically geared toward reviewing books. You'll get a fair review, not an automatic "5-star". SIDE NOTE: If you get a bad review, don't let it get you down. Consider the comments that were made that might be helpful in creating a better future work. Unfortunately, sometimes a reviewer will give a bad review just because your book wasn't their brand of vodka (or is the expression "cup of tea"?). Take it for what it is and move on. Don't let the negative stop you from succeeding.
6) WEEKS before, look into advertising. Google AdWords is a good place to start. Also, try some of the blogs you've been reading (you HAVE been reading author blogs, right? Right? If not, see number 1 above and pay attention!). A lot of bloggers offer advertising, or have advertisers advertising (clear as mud) on their blog.You can find a lot of free advertising, but be prepared to pay if you want optimum exposure.
7) DAYS before, start announcing the date of publication. Don't overdo it though. Every few hours, tweet a blurb something like "I'm excited and scared...my book is coming out in 2 days". Or post on Facebook "I hope you all will enjoy my book when it debuts..." You get the idea. Lean toward a more personal-type post. If you start mass-posting crap like "ONLY TWO DAYS before (INSERT YOUR BOOK'S NAME IN ALL CAPS HERE) comes out! Watch for it!" blah blah I'm not going to read your post/tweet, and I'm sure others aren't either. Too many caps for one thing. It screams used car salesman (BUY BUY BUY). Keep it simple and minimal for best exposure.
8) THE DAY OF, relax a bit. Have a glass of wine, a martini, a cup of tea, a Diet Coke. You got there. You may only sell a few copies your first month, or you may be the next E.L. James. But, congratulate yourself for becoming a published author. Well done!
9) Now, quit screwing around and get back to work. You have more amazing things to write about!