Updated: Jun 3
I'm assuming you want to make money on your writing. In order to do that, you need to start thinking like a small business owner. Everything you're going to do from this moment forward is going to be geared toward selling your books, making money, and world domination.
Before you publish your book, you have some serious decisions to make that will help set you up for success.
1. Are you going to have a blog? If not, you at least need an author website. Check out Tim Grahl’s guide to building an author website for instruction on how to accomplish this.
2. Are you currently on social media?
My suggestions are to concentrate on three social media outlets. Twitter will give you great exposure. If you don’t have many followers, you are going to work on building that following while you are promoting your book. Facebook is the second one you should be on. (You want to have an author page on Facebook. Don't use your personal FB.)
Use something like Crowdfire to build your following.
I currently use Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. (I used Facebook for my book launch group. More on that later.) Check out my previous post on using social media as an author.
You need to start getting your social media set up NOW. You're going to use this to help market your books and drive people to wherever you have them for sale. It will be slow going. Moreover, you’re going to have to build up traction. (More marketing information later.)
There are some great posts that help authors use social media to their advantage. Here are a few:
Now for the harder decisions.
3. Are you planning on publishing on Amazon only or all the other book retailer platforms, i.e. iBooks, KOBO, NOOK/BN, Scribd, 24 Symbols, Tolino, Ingram, and those are only a few?
If you are going to publish only on Amazon, are you going to use Kindle Unlimited? KU is where you enroll your book for 90 days, and people who pay a monthly fee can read it for free. While it is in KU, you cannot place it anywhere else.
If you are just starting out. I would recommend you use KU. At least until your second book comes out. Which hopefully is going to be within those three months. If not, you may want to leave your book in KU until it does come out. You can use KU to get reviews, and you can make some money while it is in KU.
As a new author, your going to use this first book as your lead magnet to get readers for your follow up books. Eventually, you will want all your books on as many outlets as you can get them on. The more exposure, the more sales.
You may be aware that Amazon will provide you with their ISBN or ASIN.
I don’t recommend this. Here’s why. You're the publisher of your books. By purchasing ISBNs (Bowker), you can list yourself or a publishing imprint you created. If you take advantage of Amazon’s free ISBN (ASIN), they will be listed as the publisher.
It has no effect on your copyright or anything like that. However, if you’re going to become an Indie publisher, buy ISBNs. Joel Friedlander has a great post to explain this.
4. Are you going to create an imprint company or are you going to use your author name? (Here is an article that may help you answer this question.)
You may be asking why you even need to consider this. It goes hand in hand with the previous discussion. Here’s why I did it. I created Dark Force Press, and I did a DBA (doing business as, I will later move everything over to an LLC, but I don’t make enough money to do that, yet. I do, however, carry writer’s insurance. I also created a bank account under my DBA, Dark Force Press (I also have a DBA as Victoria M. Patton). Helen Sedwick has a great article on Incorporation and whether to do it or not.)
When I bought my ISBNs (I purchased a block of 100), I listed my publishing imprint, Dark Force Press as the publisher. Every ISBN (at least for now) will be tied to this imprint. I’m paid via the account I set up for DFP. My personal bank account is not listed on any website. Also, because I’m DBA as Dark Force Press, I received an EIN for tax purposes. Now I don’t need to list my social security number on any website either.
This is where you need to start thinking of yourself as a business, as well as an author. If you were starting a retail store to sell t-shirts for your cat, you would be doing these same things. Selling your book is no different.
5. Covers. If you have software like Affinity or Photoshop and you read everything Derek Murphy has put out on book covers, and read Joel Friedlander’s take on covers, then maybe you can pull off creating your own covers.
I suggest, you consider purchasing a pre-made cover. Where all you do is add your text. You don’t want to have a great book and a shitty stupid ugly cover. Derek Murphy has covers for purchase as does The Cover Collection and The Book Cover Designer.
6. Along with the covers, you’re going to need to come up with blurbs for your book. A blurb is a short description of your book that will be used to hook your audience and make them want to purchase and read your book.
START WORKING ON THIS NOW. When people come to your book on any of the retail platforms, this is the description that will either make them buy the book or find another one. (This is such an important step. Don't just slap a description up and call it a day.)
Check out authors you have read on Amazon and see how they structured this. This is your first marketing tool. Your cover and your blurb make up your packaging. That eye-catching packaging that makes the readers not want to pass on buying and reading your book.
7. The last thing to discuss is Copyright. Yes, your book is automatically copyrighted the minute you wrote it. By purchasing the Copyright for your book from the Copyright Office, you will be able to sue for damages if someone should steal your work. It is only $55.00. Well worth it.
These are the first things you need to make decisions on and complete before you proceed forward. To give you an idea of what I paid for these services listed above I have included my expenditures.
$300.00 annually for two websites. (this, however, includes a premium account with all the bells and whistles.) $25.00 for a no thrills publisher/imprint website for two years.
$100.00 for domain names for two years for all three sites.
$100.00 for Graphic Designer. Had I continued with the Graphic Designer would have cost me $400-$600.
$200.00 for software to do covers myself.
$200.00 (unlimited use) for pictures for book covers.
$165.00 for Copyright of two novels and one short story.
$500.00 for 100 ISBNs.
$1600.00 for editing of two novels, one novella, one short story (this is something you need to budget for).
Most of these expenses are one time fees or annual purchases. Total price 3,030.00. These expenses have been paid over the last 2 years. (This amount includes editing software.)
A vanity press will charge you thousands more for these same services and you can do them yourself and much cheaper.
The next several posts will cover how to load up your manuscript on Amazon and other aggregate services, formatting, pre-orders, and marketing.
If you have a book that is near completion, start building interest now. Use your social media to build interest. Use your website/blog to build interest. Start letting everyone know you have a book that you will soon be publishing.
I write crime fiction horror, thriller, and paranormal novels. My time in the Coast Guard and my degree in Forensic Chemistry helps me create fantastic stories.
If I'm not writing, I am binge watching Netflix and probably drinking whiskey.