1) It takes time to build an audience. If you want people to read your book, you need to build a loyal audience. I’m not talking about mom and grandpa and your BFF Lindsey, I’m talking hardcore, real fans who will read anything you publish. It takes time to find a fan base, and I’m not talking months, I’m talking years. For John Locke, the first self-published author in the Kindle Million Sales Club, it took him a couple years to get there, and seven books. That’s reality. You will find people who love your book. I have, and they’re already asking me for the sequel.
2) Shortcuts don’t work. I’ve tried every shortcut, and they simply don’t work. What does work is putting in your dues. Every single day I do something toward my book, whether it’s friending readers on Goodreads or pitching for a speaking engagement or radio show. Every single day.
3) You will spend a lot of money. I’ve spent $5000 so far just on I, Putin. Between the process of self-publishing, buying ISBNs, maintaining websites, etc., it adds up over time. Some authors I know have money, and they’re spending $10,000 or up on publicity campaigns. Good for them! As for myself, in my next life, I plan to marry rich at 19, dump the old geezer by 29, receive a ton of alimony and put all that money toward my publicity campaign. Oh, and I also plan on being a supermodel.
4) Be skeptic of where you spend your money. After my first experience with a publicist, who didn’t charge me because the job was inadequate, I’m wary of where to spend money. There’s a lot of “I can make you a bestseller” or “I can make you a bestseller in 30 days!” If I want to spend money, I do my research and then decide if it’s a good fit for my book. I’m now trying to go after a cult following, and if this strategy works, I may spend $650 on a publicity opportunity I’ve been eyeing. But before I do, I’m going to ask for other authors I can contact, who have worked with this company. I’m going to ask a ton of questions. I’m going to make an informed decision.
5) Pricing is key. If you price your book wrong, it’s dead in the water. If James Patterson and Jack Canfield are pricing their new ebooks from $3.99 to $9.99 each, you better be around there or under it. Before I priced my book, I looked around on Amazon and asked publishing professionals. That’s why I, Putin is a mere $2.99.
6) You will receive bad reviews. I have. I have one bad review so far and one average review. Cool. I respect everyone’s opinion, and that’s life. Art is subjective. No, your book is probably not the next great American novel…unless you’ve been reincarnated as J.D. Salinger. To prove my point, take a look at reviews of The Catcher in the Rye and The Great Gatsby on Goodreads. They’re not even near five stars. To me, from an editor’s standpoint, Catcher is an absolute perfect novel, but that’s my opinion. Also, when I’m on Amazon and I see a book with let’s say 20 reviews and all five stars, that screams “My friends and family wrote all my reviews.”
7) Etiquette. Have you ever seen people drive in a parking lot? They suddenly lose all their manners. The same thing happens with certain people when they read your book. I would say 95% have been cool. Feedback is fine. But it depends on the intent. I’ve had a few people deliberately try to knock me down or hurt me. One person I do not speak to anymore. With another person the situation went like so: I won a second award and told certain people. Everyone did the right thing and congratulated me, except one person who had to put me down. That day, instead of celebrating and embracing my friends’ support, what stuck with me and ruined my day was the horribly rude comment my friend said to me. A week later, I told him how he made me feel and how hurt and disappointed I was in his lack of support. He apologized profusely and everything is fine now. But, in the end, I gave that person permission to upset me. I should’ve brushed it off my shoulders and basked in the support of all my other friends. Lesson learned. Here’s my take on it, when I read a friend’s book, I concentrate on the good things i.e. the unique voice, great writing, cool metaphors. I focus my energy on supporting my friend. Listen, I’ve read a lot of my friends’ books that are not in my genre and not my thing, but I always find the good and many times the great. Being an editor, I can nitpick a book to death, even my own. Remember, no book is perfect. YOUR book nor MY book is perfect. Unless, my friend specifically asks for criticism, I tell her/him what I loved about the book.
8) Sometimes you have to be tough. I wrote to my alma mater, trying to get publicity for my book. I wanted it to be included in their alumni magazine, because the people who read it are my target audience. I wrote three times and received lackluster responses. Then I wrote a polite but firm letter to the president of the university, explaining my disappointment in the school’s support and listed the book’s accomplishments. Within 24 hours, I received an apologetic note from the magazine’s editor. My book will be featured in the fall edition. I wrote the editor a very nice and enthusiastic response. The point is: Nobody puts Baby in the corner.
9) Go after the big guns…but know this…Your book may be *perfect* for that cooking segment on The Today Show, but let me tell you, it often takes more than that. I have a friend who is an expert in his field. He’s been on television all over the world. He’s handsome, brilliant, funny and great on camera. But, so far, he can’t land the big guns i.e. CNN, MSNBC, Fox, etc. He and I met with a very well-known book publicist, and the publicist said you have to find the right person to break into the “inner circle.” For me, in early September, I’ll be on a political radio show. I’ll be speaking about Putin and Syria for an hour. Sounds tough, right? It is. But I have to step up my game and get these sound bites in order to pitch the big guns. Also, I’ve noticed every publicity opportunity begets an even bigger publicity opportunity. Once you get the ball rolling, keep it rolling. The publicity train should never stop.
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