Updated November 3, 2021
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.
2. Are you currently on social media?
My suggestions are to concentrate on three social media outlets. There are so many to choose from. You may need to try them out and see if it is a fit for you. Remember, it takes time to build a following. This trial period may need to be for at least 6 months. If you are on Facebook, you should consider creating an author page. This way you will be able to share links to buy your book later. Facebook frowns on using your private/personal feed to do this.
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. Wide - Apple, KOBO, NOOK/BN, 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.
You may be aware that Amazon will provide you with their ISBN or ASIN.
Choosing to use a free ISBN from any retailer or using your own is a personal choice. Neither is wrong. You need to think about where you will be in five years. If you plan on trying to make this a full-time job, then you may consider buying a block of ISBNs from Bowker. They are pricey. You may not be able to do that now, so you may use the free and then move them over later. It is your choice and what works for you.
Using a free ISBN from any retailer has no effect on your copyright. You still own the material. The two issues that made me choose to purchase my own ISBNs were: 1. I wanted my company to be listed as the publisher. 2. An ISBN is a catalogue number for your book. Each time you use a free ISBN from any retailer, your book is essentially being listed with a new catalogue number. Which theoretically gives an entirely new listing for the book. What this means is when someone searches your book title, and you have published on several outlets (kobo, Amazon, Draft2Digtial) you will have three different catalogue entries for your book, with 3 different publishers.
Does this have any real effect on your book or sales, no. For me, I wanted only one listing tying it back to my company. Plain and simple. Again, it has no effect on your copyright. However, if you’re going to become an indie publisher of many books, consider buying 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 and Whiskey and Writing). Helen Sedwick has a great article on Incorporation and whether to do it or not.) Update: As of November 2021, I will be moving to an LLC by the end of 2022.
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 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.) Bryan Cohen has a fabulous book on this called How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis.
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 $65.00. Well worth it.
WORD OF CAUTION
A vanity press will charge you thousands more to publish your book. They take advantage of fledgling authors and you will end of worse off. Do not pay anyone to do these services for you. If you need help, get in two Facebook groups Wide for the Win, if you are going to publish on all retailers, and Alessandra Torre Inkers. Both have authors that will answer questions and help guide you. For Pete's sake, email me at Victoria@victoriampatton.com and I will help you.
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.