What to Do from Day One or, Better Yet, Before Day One
One big mistake (but then I couldn’t have done it differently) was what should have been done a year or two before I signed with a publisher: Create a platform. It’s possible that this is the most important thing you can do to enhance sales. I’ve seen great sales go to mediocre writers of not-great books. But they had a platform, and that gave their book a marketing boost from day one . . . even before day one, since you hope to get people to preorder on Amazon as that somewhat determines how Amazon treats your book. (Being a writer who always wanted to be like J.D. Salinger and hide out in the woods, a platform was not for me.)
A staff of six! A talented author once told me: “You need a staff of six to do all you need to do the first year.” This is hard to understand until you’re in it. It’s even hard for me to remember. But I know two things: It’s all in the details, and in this case, the details are endless. For example, not just emailing everyone and every place you need to contact before an event, but re-emailing when they don’t respond . . . and not taking it personally when they never respond.
And with people you hire, you need to be in constant communication, letting each one know what the other is doing, avoiding duplication, making sure you’re all on the same page. Something else I soon learned: You’re not in control, even with the people you’re paying, like your publicist. And if you get upset about something they forget or do wrong, you have to couch it very carefully since you don’t want a reluctant publicist working for you.
Some of the main things you want to do
- Hire a publicist at least six months before your book is launched (especially if you want to get publicity in national magazines). To find the right match, I spoke with friends in the publishing world, read books about publishing, googled my heart out, and then spoke at length to four publicists so we’d get a feel for each other. The books were helpful in advising me what to ask them and what to look for in a contract. Finally, I hired two publicists: one for general marketing, and one (on a much smaller budget) to reach a niche audience. We immediately started planning campaigns together. And it is together. I wrote or extensively edited most of the press releases and gave suggestions where to send them and what to say. Since I also had the help of the marketing director from my publisher, I was working with three publicists for the first several months. And what my main “hired” publicist told me was true: Publishers will send out books but rarely do follow-up. Hired publicists do both.
- Get a website up and running. I should have had one up sooner, but it was thankfully ready before the galleys were received. Before then, I put up a web splash page with the help of a web tech consultant. This is just a one-page tease of what’s to come. For the website itself, I asked other authors for web designer/webmaster referrals and researched them by looking at websites they had designed.
So, I hired a tech consultant and a webmaster, and we began to work together. Again, I stress together! I did a lot of the planning, writing, and aesthetic visualizing myself. To do that, I looked at an infinite number of websites and imitated what I liked. What I liked most was simplicity.
There’s more . . . in Part 3: And Then You Do This . . .
© 2018 Rivvy Neshama. All rights reserved. No part of this six-part essay may be reproduced without permission in writing from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations that acknowledge both the writer and the title of her book, Recipes for a Sacred Life: True Stories and a Few Miracles.
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