If you are a new author, and by new I mean you haven't published yet, are about to, just finished your manuscript, are in the middle of it, or just starting it....
I bet you have had a few moments where you have peed in your pants because you were freaking out about what the hell you were supposed to do with all the advice and rules people have been throwing at you.
Stop - take a breath - and relax.
As you are writing the greatest novel ever to be written there are just a few things you need to think about...push everything else to the side. The other things like advertising, blogging, blog tours, conferences...those will come in due time.
This is geared to the Indie author, however, several of these will pertain to someone seeking representation by an agent.
1. Write. Get the story done. Don't be distracted. Set up a writing schedule and keep to it. Once you have your first draft done, you're going to want to take a small break before you begin the first round of edits. This gives your mind a chance to reset, and when you come back to the story, you will see it more clearly.
2. While you're writing (don't spend all your time on this) get your social media going. One or two platforms only. Any more than that, and you won't have time to write. Pick two that are easy, not that any social media is actually easy, but pick two that suit your personality. That will make it easier. (Remember, you will at some point run Facebook ads, so you may want this to be one of the two.)
**Instagram is a visual platform. Be ready to create lots of post that will engage your followers.**
3. Decide (and I mean research) how you are going to publish. Either wide (all retailers, IE iBooks, Google Play Books, Kobo...etc.) or on Amazon only in KU - Kindle Unlimited. (No reason to be only on the Zon if you're not going to go into KU.) You'll need this time to figure out what will work for you.
4. From the research above, decide whether you want to buy ISBNs or use free ones from the retailers. There are a ton of authors who use the free ones from the retailers. There are just as many who buy their own ISBNs. They are expensive. Do not let this cost keep you from publishing. Use the free ones. I chose to budget for this. But I also created an imprint/publishing company, and I wanted all my books under my name and that business umbrella. (This is a personal choice, neither of which is right or wrong.)
5. Set aside money - $55 - to copyright your material on copyright.gov. THIS SHOULD NOT BE A PRIORITY. It's a very easy process and it will protect your work.
6. Consider creating a website. At the minimum, an author site. This is where you can make it all about you and your books. And this is where you can build your email list. Not mandatory, but building an email list will help you later when you start selling and writing more books. You don't need to pay for all the bells and whistles on a site until you decide what you want from it. There are tons of platforms that you can use to put out a free website. You do not have to blog. Only do that if you really want to. You will need to post a couple of times a month, and that will take away writing time.
7. Something that will help you immensely when your book is complete and edited, is having a few beta readers. These are people that will read your book, and give you honest feedback before you publish. Consider them your last line of defense. Word of caution, close friends and family do not always make the best betas. You need someone to tell you if there is a problem. Doesn't mean you have one or have to fix it, but you need honest feedback.
**(You really should think about budgeting or bartering for editing services. If you know an editor or an English teacher, see if you can swap services so that your editing is discounted. Either way, I hope you consider using some money for an editor)**
8. You will need a book cover. You can do this on your own, pay someone, or buy a premade one. Start thinking about this now. Word of caution...if you use a free website for a picture for the cover, make sure the photo can be used for commercial purposes, and make sure what's in the photo can be used as well. (I have a post on photo usage that will help.) There are so many places to get this. The first place you might check out is DIY Book Covers. This also pertains to fonts. Just because you can download one from the web, doesn't mean it's free to use for commercial puposes. I have bought several fonts that I use and most are around 10 or 15 bucks for unlimited commercial use.
9. You'll need a blurb for the back of your book. Start looking at the blurbs of other books in your genre. Get an idea of how they are written. There are 4 things you should hit on in your blurb.
1. Character intro
2. Increase tension
3. Declare stakes
Try to accomplish this using the least amount of words. Keep it tight and on point.
10. THE MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF THE PUZZLE.
As soon as your first book is done, begin writing your second book. No matter how fast or slow you write. The best way to make a living as an author is to keep writing books. You won't gain traction until you have at a minimum, 3 books out.