Readers Judge Books By Their Cover!
No matter the path you've chosen to pursue in publishing your manuscript, you'll need a GREAT Cover. Why? Because people do judge books by their cover. If your cover is bland, or looks like it was made by an amateur most won't even give your book a second thought. More importantly they may never look at your work again...
It seems harsh but it is the reality we face...
With nearly a million books published each year in the United States alone, your cover is the first access point for your potential readers. We went over the Pitch before and it is the core of your marketing strategy, but the book cover will be seen first, and as such it will be the first point of judgement by your potential reader. Eyes will automatically be drawn to the cover whether the reader is seeing it in a search, an ad, or a social media post. If you lose the reader because of a poorly designed cover, it won't matter how good your Pitch is, and even worse how good your story itself is.
Get ready to tear your hair out, especially if you decide to design it yourself!
There are three main roads you can take when you are crafting your book cover.
So you wrote a book...What the Hell do you do next? Issue #5 Finding Your Audience, Cont... #selfpublishing #hacks
Getting to know your Audience
Now we've talked about how to find a potential first customer and how to begin to expand the visibility of our Author Brand or Platform, but we need to take the next step. Unfortunately it is a difficult one. Not because it is hard to achieve it is easy, but because it requires an insane amount of patience. You want results and you want them RIGHT NOW! I know because I've been there, hell I am still there. I want everything I write to reach the stars and wow everyone, but I like you have only just started this quest. There are a few things you need to do in order to change your mindset. A shift in how you think about your success after your first book is crucial to furthering your success with the next book, and the book after that. In fact your entire writing career hinges on whether or not you are able to surmount the wall you've put up inside your own head.
MOST OF US WILL NOT HAVE RECORD BREAKING SALES RIGHT AWAY!
It is just a fact! If this was your first book to finish and publish you've got a tough road ahead, but it is important not to watch your sales like a hawk everyday. Why? Because if you are busy wasting time checking your AMAZON KDP REPORTS you aren't taking the next step in building your audience. Your audience isn't in that report. (Even though it can be used to target your audience eventually) Set it aside! Cast it out of your mind.
CHECK YOUR SALES REPORT ONCE A DAY! THAT'S IT!
I know what you are thinking... hang with me for a second...
So you wrote a book...What the Hell do you do next? Issue #4 Finding Your Audience, Cont... #selfpublishing #hacks
Hack #2 - Finding Your Audience, Continued...
In the last segment we examined how you can find your first customer. Sorry reader... Perhaps that is a more comfortable term, however I believe that customer is just as fitting. You are writing books because it is your BUSINESS! Businesses have customers and although this industry is different, the need we seek to fill, I.E. our wallets, requires return customers. Customers who are loyal to your brand, your Author platform.
What is an Author Platform?
This is a complex concept that will take time and patience to develop. I'm talking years, but it is worth every second to devote your time to this effort. It is a creative, organic process that has no formula. It is different for each author and depends largely on their persona and the work you as an author produce.
Let's start with what your Author Platform is NOT...
An author platform is not publicity or marketing or promoting. It is not your social media presence, or getting the attention of everyone you come across. Though many are confused by this, the author platform, or more aptly named Author Brand is much larger than simply selling your book. This is the foundation upon which you will sell all the other books, stories, and products you create in the future. Your brand is your voice, it is your visibility, and it is the place your audience will flock to.
So what is your Author Brand?
It is the entire pie of what you do online and offline. As self-published and indie authors we are responsible for all promotion, marketing, writing, editing, connections, you name it. It seems like a lot, and indeed it is a tall order, but it is not insurmountable. In fact it is possible, edifying, and thoroughly exhilarating. When I began this journey I was filled with "I can't". I can't write a book without help. I can't publish a book without help. I can't market my book without help.
I WAS WRONG!
Now my brand is centered on helping other authors, who are filled with the same doubt. I seek to dispel doubt, like a sorcerer. Indeed that is the exact purpose of this blog which will soon be a bestselling Kindle Release! Your book could be too if you follow the breadcrumbs I have...
So you wrote a book...What the Hell do you do next? Issue #3 Finding Your Audience #selfpublishing #hacks
Hack #2 - Finding Your Audience
You've nailed your Pitch, you've been practicing it in the mirror, you've written down twenty versions of it. You may have caught the interest of a few people, but it is time for you to shift your focus to finding your audience. Friends, family, and your social circles are a great launching point for your first book but you need to find the readers that are going to buy your work based on your writing chops. Your goal is to get your book in front of the readers that will buy your future work just because your name is on the cover.
That's ridiculous! I'm not James Patterson...
How can I expect you to believe in this? There is no reason to write if your goal isn't to get your work in front of as many people as you can. You have to set your goals high if you are ever going to achieve even a modicum of success. Some of you might say you don't write for success, but that is a a bold faced lie. We all want to be recognized for our work. Writing isn't for the faint of heart, and if you are truly serious about your craft you need to develop more than thick skin, you need to understand why you are telling stories.
Why? Because this is how you FIND YOUR AUDIENCE
This is probably the most difficult process to master. If I am honest I myself have not mastered it, few have. Luckily, those few that have found pathways to their audiences have left the breadcrumbs for those of us just starting out to follow. We just need to know where to look to find the map that takes us to the X. Underneath the X is the buried treasure, the fabled audience.
Hack #1 - Become a pitching ACE!
Whether you are looking to publish traditionally, through crowdfunding, or just self-publish you are going to need a solid idea of what your book is about. Sure you wrote the thing, you know it inside and out, but your potential readers, agents, and publishers do not. You need to become a master of the age-old technique called...
Some of you might be asking why is the pitch important? Of all the things to work on why would I work on the pitch first? That part is simple... You are going to be using variations of your pitch incessantly during your campaign to promote and sell your book. Your pitch is the heart of your entire strategy in reaching an audience. If your pitch isn't clear, compelling, and concise no one will understand what your story is about. It is imperative that your language be simple, digestible, and present a hook to ensnare potential readers, agents, or publishers. Why? Because your pitch is the key ingredient within the following...
You would be surprised how often you can be caught with your pants around your ankles if you don't have a clear pitch. I failed at this hundreds of times through hundreds of interactions both in the digital world and the realm of the living before I finally got it through my thick skull, just how freaking important this is.
Your friends and family are going to be super excited that you wrote a book. After all it is wicked awesome cool to do that! You are basically a miniature rock star among your peers. They will be incredible supporters throughout your journey and they will do it free of charge most of the time. Why? because they want to stand close to the sun. Everyone wants to be a part of your journey so you need to leverage that. Most importantly you do not want to let them down. There is nothing more embarrassing than having this interaction...
Your friend is introducing you to someone new.
Friend: This is Christopher, he just finished writing a book it is really cool! You should check it out!
Acquaintance (a.k.a. potential reader): That's awesome! What is your book about?!
You: Umm, well its complicated. You see my main character is an angel and she is fighting the bad guys, but actually its bigger than that, because there are these other guys who are good, but also not so good, and...
You've just lost a potential reader...
It sucks because you could have avoided it. If you had a clear, concise pitch you wouldn't be feeling that gut check. Don't worry, we have all been there. It is all part of the learning process, and it can be fixed. So how do we make sure to avoid pitfalls like this?
Finalizing the manuscript was the hard part right?
You've spent hundreds if not thousands of hours world-building, outlining, drafting, redrafting, rewriting, editing, tossing it all out and then starting again. Countless hours or sleepless nights devoted to your brainchild that now sits in front of you. You take a deep breath and relax, the hard part is over...or so you think. Well the truth of the matter is you couldn't be farther from the truth...
Don't feel bad, we've all been there...
That process you've just gone through is without a doubt one of the most grueling and testing things a person can do. Writing a book is something only a fraction of the population can do. It takes grit, determination, and an iron will. You should congratulate yourself, pat yourself on the back, sing, dance, go out and get a drink. Celebrate it!
It was nothing compared to what you now face. The dragon you faced when drafting your final manuscript was a beastly and horrifying gorgon of the depths, but now you face a climb up Mount Olympus. Now you have to slay gods, or at least channel their energy. No it is not the gods of Olympus. They are the gods of promotion, marketing, and social media... and they are fickle, flaky, and frightening.
Let's face it, authors are not born sales people...
Nor do we have to be naturally gifted in the slinging, sly tongued art of making deals. But we do have to become proficient if we are ever going to have the investment of time pay off. Whether or not you wrote the book for money, for fame, or for posterity, we can all agree that we want people to read it.
So what the Hell do we do?
Christopher Lee is the indie author of Nemeton, an avid history buff, mythologist, bardic poet, and keeper of the old ways.
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