What happens AFTER you sign your book contract with your publisher? That’s what I’ve been posting about, because I believe the things that happen after you’ve signed that contract provide another steep learning curve and the more you can prepare for it, the better off you’ll be.
This learning curve applies mostly to publicity – it’s a whole new skill, a whole new mindset, and it’s a massive workload. So I have a few points to help you get prepared and get ahead.
Figure out your author brand. If you’re a YA author writing for teens, it needs to resonate with them. That doesn’t mean you have to wear ripped jeans and answer every question with ‘Whatever’, but it does mean your brand should appeal and relate to that audience. Remember the secondary target audience is parents, teachers, librarians…so you need to appeal to them too. No swearing on your website! In my case, I chose to be an advocate of boosting self-esteem in young people and also of supporting girls in sport at a time (the teen years) when many are dropping out. These issues are addressed in my novel, and have been great pitches and feature articles for my publicist to use when approaching the media for interviews/feature articles etc.
Start your author social media platforms immediately. Unless you’re an SEO whiz, it takes time to build your following. Figure out which platforms your readers use. Match what you post to your author brand. Keep it official. Don’t mix in photos of your children (it’s a public platform), but do link it to your life as an author, your writing, your book and books full stop. Be authentic, and engage with your followers through likes, comments and shares. When you launch your book you don’t want to be launching it to a following of 48 people. I took over a year to gain 1500 followers on Instagram, slowly and day by day, they trickle in. My publicity team are pretty happy I started that work well before I got a publishing contract.
Build an author website, or get someone to do it for you. I built it free on Wix, but others swear by Wordpress, GoDaddy or Blogger. You will have to see what fits your skill set. This is where readers come to find out more about you and your book. This is where you should be getting potential readers to subscribe to a newsletter so they can receive your launch news. Given you can’t self-promote on social media very much, the newsletter is your self-promotion arena. I’ll be loading my cover and ‘buy’ buttons on this site very soon. I’m so glad it’s already built and not another massive project to do now, when there’s so much else to do.
Start making a list of relevant ‘influencers’ in your market. They can be bloggers or Instagram accounts or people within mainstream media on TV or in magazines. If you’re writing books about horses then your list will be different from that of a crime novel. You’ll be asked for your ideas from your publicist, so it’s a good idea to build it now and not be stuck with starting that job when your publicist is waiting on you.
Compile a file of book covers you like and even those you don’t like so when you’re asked (if you’re lucky enough to be asked), you can provide your publisher with a book cover brief.
These are just some of the main things you can do ahead of time so that you don’t get a shock when the publicity machine for your book kicks in. It seems like nothing is happening for months as you work with the editor and then all of a sudden the Publicity Manager gives you that call and if you haven’t done all or some of the above, you won’t be sleeping for a month!
Good luck and feel free to ask me any questions about this topic. I’m happy to answer either here for everyone’s benefit, or via private message.