THE FIRST STEP IN PUBLISHING A BOOK
What defines a “good” book is up to the reader. Millions of readers loved 50 Shades of Grey. I bet you don’t know the name of the author who won one of literature’s biggest prizes ‘The Booker Prize’ the same year 50 Shades was released. Incidentally, it was Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending. So what we need to acknowledge here is no matter what genre you are writing, you should aim to create a quality publication that your readers will love – this is the first step in publishing a great book.
Your blog, your books, or your presence on social media are all open targets for people with negative attitudes.
In essence, you are competing with millions of other publications and your new release needs to stand alongside the bestsellers in your genre. Also for pride, passion, and purpose you should be aiming to write quality and enter a process that respects the creativity along with the readers’ experience.
From this, it is sensible to work on your craft through writing blogs, short stories, and self-editing. Submitting your manuscript for appraisals or assessments by experts and then engaging in a comprehensive editorial process ensures your manuscript will be the best it can be. The biggest hurdle in achieving this is impatience. Usually, after spending hours, days, weeks, months, even years writing your story, it is understandable that fatigue may have set in and you just want to get it published. The first step in publishing is a patient one.
As a self-publisher or independent author, ensure you take a breath and remind yourself that you haven’t even reached the half-way point in the whole journey. If you truly value your time, energy, and creative expression utilised to write that story, then it is important to respect it enough and take the necessary time and steps to ensure it is continuing to improve to bring you the best possible outcome and a product you can be proud of. This is the first step in publishing a book.
THE FIRST STEP IN MARKETING A BOOK
Now, let’s look at your audience, your target market. This is the first step in marketing your book. So often we hear authors tell us that they feel their target market is everyone. Sorry, but that just isn’t possible. In fact, most people aren’t interested or won’t like your book. So the key is to find those that will be. So how do we find our potential target market?
First, we need to research authors who have written in the same genre as you. Let’s call them ‘Affinity Authors’ as they have an affinity, a similarity, to what you are writing. For example, let’s say you are writing a book on leadership. Head over to Amazon and in the search bar for books enter leadership. Pick titles that are reviewed or even registering the #1 Best Seller status. In this example, we could look at Simon Sinek’s Start With Why. The first thing we want to do is check out the ‘Customers who bought this item also bought’ section. Pick 5-10 that you can repeat the following process with.
Next, we look at the categories where Start With Why features and as of the time of writing this, it was #1 in Entrepreneurship, Leadership (obviously), and Business Office Skills. Note these down as the categories that you want to look at listing your book under. Obviously, once you repeat this with other books you will have numerous categories in your list. This is important to secure high rankings in certain categories as some will be top-level and much harder to achieve a #1 ranking, like Leadership, and others will be more obscure and easier, like Business Office Skills.
Now that we have several titles up for review, we need to look at the actual book reviews written on these titles. Many of these reviews have legitimate profiles on the reviewer. After doing some research I found a reviewer called ‘Rob’ who gave Start With Why a five-star review and stated ‘highly recommended’. He also has a reviewer ran of 5997, not bad.
When clicking on his profile, I discovered he has both YouTube and Instagram links. I went through to YouTube and found his email and also LinkedIn and Twitter links. We can now contact Rob and say how we valued his review and ask if he would be interested in reviewing another book on leadership. Furthermore, we can look into what Rob does for a living and see he holds a regional director position for a travel company. I also see he is originally from New Zealand (another area of common ground I can use in my communication with him). But the key take away is that he is in a leadership role himself within the travel industry. Hmm, a market for our new leadership book? I think so.
Once you have established your target market, you can then look at where they usually browse or look for fresh content. In Rob’s case, we discovered through his LinkedIn activity what kind of content is of interest to him and the groups and organisations he is connected to. Through further exploration, I can see that these groups can also give me further connections due to their ‘likes’ and ‘loves’ on posts and also the employee listings. Fantastic, all through one review I have established several new connections, fresh audience, and popular groups of people who are now all potential customers of this new leadership book.
Now if you continue this exercise for 5-10 books and start keeping a database of contacts and communication, you may find that you have established a whole new market, new subscribers, beta-reader reviewers, and of course, fresh sales for your book. This is the first step in marketing your book.