Goodreads Blog

5 Things Writers Need to Know Before Publishing Their First Book

Posted by Cynthia on March 13, 2017
Many writers dream of becoming published authors: to have their words read by millions of readers; to hold their manuscript in a book form; to see that book in bookstores and libraries; to get glowing reviews on Goodreads or in the New York Times. Chat They think that once they hit "publish" on a self-publishing platform or hand their final, edited manuscript over to a publisher, their work is done.

In reality, many writers quickly realize how much more they are expected to pitch in on the marketing front. They realize that books don’t just magically appear in bookstores, and that readers won’t drop everything and read the book the second they first hear about it.

To help you avoid surprises, here are five things writers need to know before publishing their first book:

1. Bestsellers are not created overnight.

When you see a book shoot magically up the best-seller list in the first week it is published, understand that it took many people many months of work to put it there. It takes traditional publishers so long to get from acquisition to publication because they are setting the stage for the release: writing the marketing & publicity material for the sales reps to use with the buyers, mailing out media review copies, securing interviews and reviews, putting together the advertising creative, and more.

As an author, you’ll need to have the patience and foresight to plan out a complete marketing campaign. This can start as soon as you finish the manuscript: establish your online presence, start building a mailing list, and introduce yourself to the local publishing community.

2. You will need to be an extrovert.

Book promotion means you will need to balance talking about yourself and your book and talking about other things people care about (for example). You will need to engage with your readers. You will need to sign books. You will need to charm booksellers. And you will need to tell your story over and over again, answering the same questions, remaining positive and friendly throughout.

Remember that you wouldn’t be a published author without readers, so work hard to make every interaction a great one. Also know yourself well enough to recharge your batteries between events, and let your publicist know to be selective with the types of interviews you do.

Quick tip: Ask the Author is a great way to engage with readers, as it allows you to select which questions to answer, and when to answer them. [Read tips about using Ask the Author here.]

3. Not everyone will like your book... and that is ok!

You might think your book will only find it’s way into the hands of readers who will think it’s life-changing, but sooner or later someone will not like your book. No book is for everyone, and the most important thing to realize about a negative review is that it’s just one person’s opinion. Don’t take it personally. Instead, leave it alone and then get the beverage of your choice, and look up your favorite book on Goodreads. Chances are there are many negative reviews of it!

Respect personal preferences, and never try to change someone’s opinion about your book. If you’re worried you’ll get affected by reading reviews of your own book, don’t read them (yes, it really is that simple!). If you suspect it violates our review guidelines, flag it so our team can take a look at it.

4. Read books, not your own reviews.

One way to avoid reading your own reviews is to stay occupied by reading other people’s books! This is the best activity to engage with readers on Goodreads and build a following [read more about building a following here].

Share your passion for reading and show off your talent for writing by reviewing books on Goodreads. Start by reviewing books you loved in childhood, move on to books that inspired you to become a writer, and then tackle the current best-seller list for more recent titles. Remember: Goodreads is a community for readers—these are your people! Connect with them, and trust they will discover your own work that way.


5. Keep writing.

If all goes well, readers will devour your work and immediately want more. You need to have something ready to share with them, whether that’s a short story or a preview of the second book in the series. Keep the same writing schedule as you had before your work was published. You might transition from being a writer to being an author by publishing your first book; publish more than that and you have a career.

What do you wish you had known before publishing your first book? Share it in the comments below!

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You might also like: For the Love of Books - Quotes About Reading and Writing

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Comments Showing 1-50 of 160 (160 new)

message 1: by Sande (new)

Sande Boritz   Berger What I wish I knew is that I would be spending as much time promoting my book for over two years after publication and thus writing less. There are two distinct mindsets, the creative writer, and the marketer, promoter. Though I enjoyed meeting so many people and getting the feedback I hoped for, it has taken some time to re-ignite my creativity.

message 2: by Frank (new)

Frank Whelan Point number one rings big clanging bells in my head. Patience. Patience is key. When I 'finished' my first novel, Diary of the Wolf, I sent it to one publisher and upon receiving just one rejection letter, I decided I would self publish and let the world decide.
At the time, I was involved in creative writing forums and a few other places where I could promote my book and it was back in 2010, so early enough days for self publishing. I shipped a few hundred copies and then forgot about it as I moved onto the first draft of novel number two.
It was only five years later, when a new acquaintance introduced me to her professional-looking self-published fantasy novel, that I realised the potential. I went back to that first book and spent a year completely re-writing it and putting it through multiple rounds of beta readers while I taught myself how to use inDesign to create a quality print version.
I released the 2nd edition of Diary of the Wolf in 2016, but it lacked the bang of a new release, simply because I knew hundreds of people in my circles had already read it. I was never genuinely proud of that first edition, it didn't have enough blood, sweat and tears woven into the binding, but I was certainly proud of the re-write, yet I didn't have the hunger to push it as new.
If I had been patient and spent another year on the original, well, I wouldn't have had a book as good as the 2016 edition (because six years is a lot of experience and growth for anyone,) but I certainly would have had a better start and a stronger position to build on.
As a writer first and a publisher second, you really need to sit on your hands for a few months and make sure your book is as good as it can possibly be before placing on your publisher hat and trying to sell it to the world. When all it takes is as little as uploading a Word doc, the temptation to rush your creation out into the world is great. Stay strong, stay calm and trust your beta readers. So so many beta readers.

message 3: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Shannon Frank wrote: "When I 'finished' my first novel, Diary of the Wolf, I sent it to one publisher and upon receiving just one rejection letter, I decided I would self publish and let the world decide.... I was never genuinely proud of that first edition, it didn't have enough blood, sweat and tears woven into the binding, but I was certainly proud of the re-write, yet I didn't have the hunger to push it as new. "

Great points you make there, Frank! I think there's tremendous value in receiving rejection letters. It's build character, and it's the first time the writer hears from someone that their book needs work. Beta readers are a great way to go. How did you find yours? You mention a writing group that helped improve your writing. How often did you meet with them? Have you found any groups on Goodreads that have helped?

message 4: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Shannon Sande wrote: "What I wish I knew is that I would be spending as much time promoting my book for over two years after publication and thus writing less. There are two distinct mindsets..."

Yep, absolutely. It's great that you're doing that promotion! How do do you balance the two mind-sets? Do you set specific time for the different activities?

message 5: by Frank (new)

Frank Whelan Cynthia wrote: "Frank wrote: "When I 'finished' my first novel, Diary of the Wolf, I sent it to one publisher and upon receiving just one rejection letter, I decided I would self publish and let the world decide....."

Thanks Cynthia. I've gathered my beta readers by various means. Some I met in work, others are old friends, while others I met through online writing groups. I expect and appreciate honesty and return the favour, so I've been lucky to trade manuscripts with some excellent new writers. It was a writing group based online, so really it was a case of encouraging each other to write with themes and short story challenges etc. I've only really started using Goodreads for more than just tracking my reading, so I haven't really found any writing groups yet. Yet being key there :)

message 6: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Pearson When I wrote Billionaire's Love and came out in August, it was awesome, But I soon realized that once your friends and family and friend of friends bought it. I have to keep the social media going blogging etc. I self-published but through an agency that did all the work it was costly, but I didn't know what I needed to do. Now I have wonderful friends from RWAC (Romance Writers of America Atlantic Canada) that are giving me good advice. So I'm still learning, but I haven't given up. Marketing and Advertising are hard when you never did it. Working on the Second book, that is the advice that the ladies at the RWAC told me to get your second book out. So I'm working hard on that. Authors need reviews, and that is hard to get. I've tried unless you pay for it. Not everyone loves Romance Novel, but I haven't given up. Brenda Pearson

message 7: by Scott (new)

Scott Mullins Marketing. I never thought about marketing when I started writing. Reviews are ridiculously hard to get, good or bad.

message 8: by Maginda (last edited Mar 17, 2017 02:13AM) (new)

Maginda Most of us write, but it takes good effort and time to write well. A lot us are into marketing but now marketing parameters change so fast that a standard model does not stay so, for long.
So shall we write what we like and try to market it, or shall we study the market and write accordingly!

message 9: by Nicole (new)

Nicole Huggins I'm glad I read this article because Point #1 is exactly what I needed to hear. It's incredibly difficult because I get so hard on myself. I'm not giving up. Thanks!

message 10: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Marie Gabriel Point two is the hardest for me. I will work happily on my own but the whole networking and schmoozing scene is something very foreign to an introvert. To be honest, that's one reason I took the indie route. I think the real bonus of being an introvert is that I am quite happy to sit on a project and write and rewrite it over and over many times until I am happy. Working in a writers' group is impractical where I live and also goes against the grain for someone who does not enjoy group activities. Again its the whole "being social" thing that holds me back but I do have one or two very trusted writer friends who will beta read for me.

message 11: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Shannon These are all great points! I wonder how many writers start writing with the intention of becoming Authors (with a capital 'A'!) and how many writers just write for the love of writing, and decide at some point "oh, might as well publish this stuff..." What was your approach?

message 12: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Marie Gabriel Definitely the second. I have been scribbling poetry and stories for years but I was far too busy at work to chase a publisher or an agent. I think now self publishing is so much easier (and less frowned upon) "I might as well publish it" is a legitimate action. Certainly that was the case with my book about Vaughan Williams songs. It languished unread for a very long time, then I rediscovered it and was able to negotiate a fee for quoting music excerpts and put it out there for other enthusiasts. Publishing a novel was much easier but it was the story that came first rather than the desire to publish.

message 13: by Scott (new)

Scott Mullins I started out with a vivid imagination. Role playing game master, drawing, writing stories and poems. Then I decided to write a book and see where it went. Thirteen years later and a different book I finished Relentless. The title is fitting because thats what you have to be to succeed if you want to be an author.

message 14: by Swapna (new)

Swapna Rajput nice article. Loved it

message 15: by Nicole (new)

Nicole Huggins Lisa wrote: "Point two is the hardest for me. I will work happily on my own but the whole networking and schmoozing scene is something very foreign to an introvert. To be honest, that's one reason I took the in..."

Lisa, I can relate. Networking and schmoozing is not in my DNA, either. Putting myself "out there" makes me feel exposed. Best wishes!

message 16: by Trisha (last edited Mar 18, 2017 01:06PM) (new)

Trisha Kelly As a new Author, the writing part seems to come naturally and I have written almost 3 books in a 5 part series in around 4 weeks per book, it seems to flow. I love to work on my own and get lost in the fantasy world that I am creating which is a lovely place to be! However Discovering Witchetty Waters my first book released a couple of weeks ago on Amazon has quickly shown me that this is a very complex place to be and to make yourself 'visible' is the big challenge. Marketing is a tough world and one I am learning quickly. So there is I am finding a very fine line between 'spamming' yourself and being polite. Being seen but on a gently gently basis. Writing Childrens fantasy is a competitive market place. What did I wish I knew beforehand? well probably none of it! you must remain positive and believe in all you do. If you read all the rules in life you would never leap.

message 17: by Dion (new)

Dion McInnis Nice piece. Two things strike me as "I wish I had known" topics:
1. Where/to whom do I market? Of course, after 13 books, I'm still wondering the best places to market. For some reason, I have a hard time figuring out the exact market (names, contacts, etc.) to promote my books. Community events and such, though part of the process, seem to have little value.

2. Selling matters. Marketing is different than selling, of course, and selling matters. Publishing the book is like birthing a child, right? It takes time, we're proud of it and so on and so on. But we must "raise up" our books like we do our children. For the former, that means bringing the books into the world and having people buy them. That matters to us as authors, and to the book's value to the world.

I am too quick to finish one book, market it for a bit, and then jump onto the next book. It pays to be intentional in marketing and selling. I am NOT saying that I am good at it; in fact, I know it is important because I don't do it well and the sales results demonstrate that fact! :-)

But, I'd also say, don't ever let disappointment in sales stop you from creating.


message 18: by Thibault (new)

Thibault Jacquot-Paratte Thanks for pointing out the obvious! This opinion letter was a terrible waste of time.

message 19: by Ian (new)

Ian Nicholson I have self published three collections of short stories, and find that positive feedback, whether from online reviews or from my book readings, encourages me to carry on writing. I am a naturally quiet person, happy to sit writing for hours at a time with no distractions, but when I meet someone who has read one of my books and they ask me to sign it for them, well... that gives a real boost!
Self marketing can be scary, but it really can bring positive results, however much 'against the grain' it feels for some of us.

message 20: by Charlie (new)

Charlie Garratt One point not mentioned is that it can cost a lot of money to become a best seller. One of the highest selling books of the last couple of years sent out 4,000 review copies. The stacks of the latest books seen in any of the bookstore chains have a massive financial investment in them by the publisher (i.e. the publisher puts them out on sale or return). Even getting pre-release reviews on Amazon costs money, so it's not just paperbacks.
All of the points made above are valid and useful, but unless someone is prepared to take the financial risk, the book won't hit the shelf.

message 21: by Harald (new)

Harald Davidson Trisha wrote: "As a new Author, the writing part seems to come naturally and I have written almost 3 books in a 5 part series in around 4 weeks per book, it seems to flow. I love to work on my own and get lost in..."

@Trisha: Exactly my experience. It's very competitive in the kid's fantasy niche and in my case it's very hard to find the time (and resources) to keep promoting. I feel I have so little time to actually write and spend most of my time researching and trying publicity things, many of which are useless. Being an introvert, it is not comfortable feeling exposed. Oh well, live and learn. I have confidence in my work so I'll keep going anyway. Two more books in the series are already written and in the publishing pipeline. Onwards and upwards and keep the faith!

message 22: by Kate (last edited Mar 20, 2017 08:28AM) (new)

Kate Monro I take issue in the nicest possible way about #2 and the need to be an extrovert! I don't consider myself an extrovert in any shape or form but I was excited to talk about my book when it finally got published because it had taken me so long to get a deal and see the finished product. Also, no one is better qualified to talk about your 'book baby' than you so its almost impossible to run out of things to say about it because you know your material inside out. I'd hate anyone to be put off attempting to become an author because they don't think they're extrovert enough;) as it was one of the best moments in my life. I also have some EPIC rejection letters as my book was turned down by every publisher in London twice over before it finally got a deal. I once read them out at a Literary Festival and got a few laughs.

message 23: by Deane (new)

Deane Thomas Great article, and fully appreciated. Marketing our work is an essential aspect that we cannot avoid. We are after all building our own brand for others to be drawn to. It will always be a competitive market place, especially with the way technology appears to make it so simple to publish. Getting the brand and marketing that to the outside world is an ongoing challenge for all of us, but the results will always be worth it.

message 24: by Errin (last edited Mar 20, 2017 06:44AM) (new)

Errin Stevens Good article, all good comments.

My only add would be to know there's a seasonality to book sales, good info for a couple of reasons: 1) Don't beat your author-self up for having slow months; and 2) Poof - here's your built-in writing schedule! Marketing (smartly) is constant, but you will do more for your market penetration by having new material to publish... and more time May thru August to write.

message 25: by Richard (new)

Richard Jr. Twelve fiction novels and over 1.2 million words. Discovery happens slowly.

message 26: by Patricia (last edited Mar 20, 2017 06:51AM) (new)

Patricia Walker My self-publishing company, who shall remain nameless, has gone to the wall. Even before the company dissolved I received no sales or downloading royalties whatsoever even though I know my books were sold and downloaded. Websites such as Amazon, Waterstones etc. are all showing my books as 'out of stock' and even if the publisher had not gone bust the only way these outlets would have received more stock is if I handed over another chunk of money to the publisher to get more printed. Self-publishing looks very attractive on the surface, but all the leg work to get your books noticed is really down to the author. The self-publishing companies do no advertizing on your behalf, which means that people come upon your books by chance and not design. My advice - do not self-publish even though you are desperate to get your work published - it really is not worth it - unless of course you have a money tree at the bottom of your garden!

message 27: by Diana (new)

Diana Great points!

I found that transitioning from the writing stage to doing a book launch took a couple of months. Going from the inner task of writing to the outer task of promoting and public speaking takes time.

One of the things writing and publishing a novel allowed me to do is donate some of the proceeds to an organization I support, which is a good way to reach my target audience. It feels great too.

The experience makes me a better reader, since I understand the process of plot and character development intimately now. Reading other good books is a great way to learn.

message 28: by Turab (new)

Turab Dedanwala The Diamond Necklace
My First Attempt to write a fiction novel. Many setbacks and difficulties but finally published. I am seriously looking for the good editing of the book and contribution by friends in how to improve the marketing of the book where i have failed miserably.

message 29: by Tony (new)

Tony Nash Help, folks! I would dearly love to find some beta readers for my novels. How does one do it? The books seem to sit out there in limbo, and though I have wasted a great deal of time sending letters to publishers, we all know that unless one already has a big name or is promoted by a best-selling author, no publisher will even look at you. The same now goes for agents, unless they are those who want you to vanity publish. With over a million new books published every year, winning the lottery is easier. I'm not in the least bothered about the money or fame - I would just like to be read (as I near the end of my 30th novel).

message 30: by John Hooker (last edited Mar 20, 2017 07:28AM) (new)

John Hooker I've published five titles on Kindle in the last eleven months and the sixth will be out this week. Three of them are a series on an archaeological subject, and the series is the third attempt in handling the topic in about ten years. Another is a project I had been putting off for about fourteen years and in that I am more editor than writer as it is a "complete poems of..." book with annotations. The fifth is a novel and the sixth will be another archaeological subject. Number seven will be started from scratch and is a daunting project.

Being an introvert, marketing does not interest me very much and as I am 67 years old, it's not like I am looking at a new career.

Sales are slow, partly because I have not been trying to market the the titles (apart from announcements and links on my blog). Only the novel has got any reviews (2) both favorable.

My point in writing is twofold: to develop my ideas and to make sure they are "out there". I like the idea of my grandchildren being able to know more about grandpa once they are old enough to read what I write. The theory behind the three volume work has had very positive feedback from two of the world's main specialists in that area of archaeology; one saying that it is better than most, the other saying that it is the best on the subject. That is all I really need: I don't need extra income and what I like to do most in life is to think and write. These things require little financial outlay.

Sometimes, subject matter can be contrary to sales. My blog of three years has its subjects getting very high ranking in Google searches, but the two top subjects which rank as number one in several Google search terms have a very different number of page hits: number two is about my discovery and attribution of the official seal of Alexander the Great. It has 1,724 page reads. The top post, however, has 13,795 page reads. It is about my dog.

I have heard that cookbooks sell far more than any other type of book (except for the Bible). I suppose it boils down to what you want to do: write or sell. I think it is most important to be true to yourself.

message 31: by Idelle (new)

Idelle Kursman An extremely important article. When I was writing my first novel to be published, my main concern was writing the very best story I could. I didn't realize the importance of beginning promotion before it was actually published. Next time I'll know better.

message 32: by James (new)

James McCrone These are all excellent points. I appreciate hearing that book sales are somewhat seasonable.
What I wish I had know earlier, was that many reviewers (Library Journal, most newspapers) won't review a book that is already published. I banged my head against that wall unnecessarily. That said, a Goodreads giveaway contest helped generate buzz and some positive reviews, and Faithless Elector was topical enough that I did get some press reviews.
The other rookie mistake I made was not understanding the issue of book returns. It was very difficult to get bookstores to stock my book--even when they were interested--because my first printer did not participate (I've since switched).
On the more positive side, I have loved meeting and hearing back from readers. I had no idea how insightful and dedicated they could be.

message 33: by Jameson (last edited Mar 20, 2017 07:56AM) (new)

Jameson I wish I could say I had the secret, but the short answer is there is no secret. Prior to the recent publication of "Dancing with the Dead," I was lucky enough to have access to some very successful writers, several of whom count as a household names among literary readers. I asked each of them for the secrets of their marketing success. It was a little discouraging to find that not one of them had a clue as to what works and what doesn't. The best seller among them had the marketing team of a famous house behind him, the whole team working for over a year on his first critically acclaimed novel, but while it did well, it did not do as well as he had hoped. (Who among us ever does sell as well as he would like?) Another famous and critically acclaimed novelist told me he can count on selling 7000 copies of each book. Arguably the most famous of them all said he could count on 10,000 sales. To expect to become the next J.K. Rowling or Stephen King is obviously fantasy time, but just to get published can be overwhelmingly daunting. My own agent refused to send out "Dancing with the Dead" on the grounds that "no one will publish a novella these days." He was wrong; it took over a year to find a small house (Bearmanor Media) that would publish it, but I did it, and I spent that year and the year that it took to get printed researching every marketing tool I could find, picking the brains of the writers I had access to, and bugging a good friend who is the marketing VP for a small but famous company. The distillation of all this amounts to--word of mouth, nothing more, and only a good story with good writing can achieve that. Social media can help draw some attention, but after that, it's very much like playing roulette (regular roulette, not the Russian variety).
God bless us every one.
Jameson Parker

message 34: by Damian (new)

Damian McNicholl When my first novel came out, I was so obsessed with the entire process I didn't write. Actually, I couldn't. I just couldn't motivate myself. And I kept trying to think of ideas to help the publisher and kept checking the books ratings and how could I move the needle. DO NOT DO THAT. Such a waste of creative energy. Keep calm and continued to write, write, write--whether another manuscript or essays that you or your publisher can place in relevant media to help generate awareness.
Now my second novel THE MOMENT OF TRUTH will release in June, I'm much more calm about it and have been writing essays, tweeting and working on another historical novel. Always stay in touch and give postive help to your publisher. Mine, Pegasus Books NY, has been very supportive and entered it on Goodreads Giveaway that ends tomorrow.
Yeah, a shameless plug --lol. Good luck to all on publication. And don't forget to enjoy the ride. Damian

message 35: by Tony (new)

Tony Nash Like you, Idelle, I would like my descendants to have something of the family available in print, and hence have made some of my historical and war novels semi-fictional, incorporating true events from my ancestors' lives. My father, for instance, was at Gallipolli on the hill that the Second Norfolks went over to disappear off the face of the earth without trace, every single one of them. One theory was that they were abducted by aliens! Researching for those novels was illuminating, to say the least.

message 36: by A. (new)

A. John Hooker wrote: "I've published five titles on Kindle in the last eleven months and the sixth will be out this week. Three of them are a series on an archaeological subject, and the series is the third attempt in h..."
Ditto. I've written one novel (in English and Turkish) and am finishing up a second one. Both are historical fictions and they are intended for my offsprings. I am not the least bit interested in making a living by writing though I would be pleased if people read my work. This doesn't make them less literary, however. On the contrary, I work very hard to make sure that they will have longevity in content, prose, and style.

message 37: by B.A. (new)

B.A. A. Mealer Self-publishing is great, but.... That is what none of us want to hear but need to pay attention to in order to get to where we want to be. There are thousands of authors out there but how many are good enough to make it to the best seller list? Or better yet, how many mediocre authors have made it to that list and why?

Marketing is something we all need to learn. Where to go, what to do and how to do it. With that said, we also need to have a good product. I've been a beta/critique partner/proof reader for several indie authors. My biggest complaint, errors which should never be seen in a book. Yes an error or two may happen even in traditionally published books but when I see multiple errors in sentence structure, tense, spelling, missed words, etc, I truly believe that author doesn't care enough to do what is necessary to prevent shoddy editing. Instead of spending all your time on a cover, get the inside in the best shape possible. Have it formatted and professionally edited.

No, my first book isn't all that good, but I did learn a lot about how to write, how to publish and I'm working on marketing skills for the next book, which is much better written. There is a learning curve and we all have to work on getting our skills in top form from writing to publishing to selling.

Why go indie? Each person has to decide what is best for them. Because I don't write what is 'popular' right now, I decided to do my own thing. The down side is that I'm having to learn everything on my own without much help. The good side is that when done, I'll have all the skills I need to handle my own business...the business of writing and publishing.

message 38: by A.K. (new)

A.K. Silversmith First-time self-publishing is very chicken-and-egg; there are so many great things you can do to promote your first book prior to releasing it but it isn't really until after you release it that you truly understand what they are! Not to mention that it's near impossible to build a fan base when you don't have a book out, but you need a fan base to help you launch that book.

What fun we all have!

message 39: by Bethany (new)

Bethany Thompson Promotion and Marketing. Also, being an extrovert. I don't necessarily wish I would have known about these things before being published, but I write for the love of writing, and I certainly didn't realize how much time, effort, and even - as has been mentioned - money it takes to get the word out about your book. My first novel, Little Birdie, was published several years ago by a royalty-based publisher, but I still had to pay a retainer's fee - refundable once the first thousand copies sold, of course, but that didn't happen. I did quite a few signings and events, but it was hard for me to push sales, even though I was excited about my book being published and energized by positive reviews.
At the beginning of this year, my publisher stopped operations, so I find myself looking for a new publisher and wondering if I really want to go through the whole process again. I will always write, but I've thought of creating a blog and posting my stories by chapters for my family and friends who want to read them.

Bethany Thompson

message 40: by Gloria (new)

Gloria Gonsalves Number 2, sigh! My real struggle as a full-time employee and a writer during spare time is getting my books to reach the readers. I dislike marketing related activities which I feel they rob me of time I love to use creating. I am also not a fan of public events, social gatherings or similar for the sake of marketing a book. You can say, I would love to write without having to do public appearances unless they are in writing.

message 41: by Jameson (new)

Jameson Gloria, I think you've touched on the split that makes this a hard game to play. To be a writer you must, by definition, be happy sitting all by yourself at your desk making things up. To sell a book you must, by definition, be the kind of person who can easily and comfortably engage other people and stand up in front of (small) crowds and give readings. Those tend to be mutually exclusive things.

message 42: by Jo (new)

Jo Bender John Hooker wrote: "I've published five titles on Kindle in the last eleven months and the sixth will be out this week. Three of them are a series on an archaeological subject, and the series is the third attempt in h..."

Dear John: According to a national library report, cookbooks are no longer "in." Readers, according to a recent report here in rural WA State is that they find recipes on-line. Fiction is down, too. Just top sellers are having a few weeks in the sun. E-books are fine.

Who knows the future? As writers, we, too, have fans and then we don't. I write and then I don't. But, finally the "The Ladies of the Ti-Pi," a current work in progress won't leave me alone. I hope that happens to you, too. Write because you have it in your soul.

message 43: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Davis Cynthia's 5 Things really nails it. The other author comments are also valuable, and add insight to this exhilarating and maddening process. I wish I had known, as well, that authors must be active participants in the sales and marketing of their books. - to be tech savvy, fearless and never lazy. Great conversation here. Thanks, Cynthia!

message 44: by Molly (new)

Molly Ringle As an extreme introvert who is also a writer, and who recognizes that nearly all writers are introverts, I wish to reassure others by editing point number two to: "You have to act like an extrovert, temporarily, occasionally." You definitely don't have to become one permanently. And thank goodness for that, because it isn't possible to change the wiring of our personality. :) Giving the "Hey all, come look at my stuff!" marketing a few hours a week is usually sufficient, and even us "Go away and leave me in my attic" types can manage it.

message 45: by John Hooker (new)

John Hooker Jo wrote: "According to a national library report, cookbooks are no longer "in." Readers, according to a recent report here in rural WA State is that they find recipes on-line. "

That makes sense -- it's what I do all the time!

message 46: by Robert (new)

Robert Deangelis My book Anno Domini has only been published for approximately three weeks, so my marketing experience is extremely limited. I know there is much that I do not know. However, I am confident in this belief. As a fiction writer, believe in your story and complete your story as it should be written. Then move on to the marketing elements of indie publishing. If you were true to your story, the obstacles of promotion may be a little less daunting.
Robert Deangelis Anno Domini by Robert Deangelis

message 47: by Chris (new)

Chris Haigh Charlie wrote: "One point not mentioned is that it can cost a lot of money to become a best seller. One of the highest selling books of the last couple of years sent out 4,000 review copies. The stacks of the late..."
Exactly. If you write to make money, forget it. I treat it as a hobby and I'm into my third story having self-published two books. London Red was my first. But ... I have a game-plan. My books are the very best I can write, I didn't rush it, got plenty of beta readers, etc. Then I made sure of a professional edit and paid for it. Same with the interior and exterior design. Got plenty of reviews too. Because one day I'm going to present my collection to an agent ... and you never know!

message 48: by Ian (new)

Ian Nicholson Patricia wrote: "My self-publishing company, who shall remain nameless, has gone to the wall. Even before the company dissolved I received no sales or downloading royalties whatsoever even though I know my books we..."
Well, I've written a short story about the pitfalls of owning such a supposedly wonderful thing, called 'The Money Tree (a cautionary tale)'. It's in my second collection called 'Different Natures' (shameless plug, I know). Be careful what you wish for...

message 49: by Jameson (new)

Jameson Samuel Johnson once wrote: "Only a blockhead ever wrote but for money," but of course he lived considerably before the age of the internet. The best-selling author I know still works as a carpenter, and the next best-selling teaches at a college. And they're both published by major houses.

message 50: by Stacy (new)

Stacy Gold Great article! I spent almost 15 years in marketing and communications before starting to write fiction. Now that I've published my first short story, Just Friends, with The Wild Rose Press, I'm thankful every day for my marketing background.

I believe the keys to being a successful marketer and still getting plenty of writing time, while not feeling like a pushy salesperson, are:
1) Set goals.
2) Make a marketing plan, and stick to it for 3-6 months. Then review to see if you've reached your goals. If not, adjust. And pick no more than three marketing avenues so you don't burn out.
3) Find ways to track ROI so you know what's working and what's not. For instance, every time I promote my short story on social media, I include a buy link. I can look at sales and see a jump each day I promote. You can also link to a free offer that people get by signing up for your newsletter, then track signups via different forms for different offers to see what's working.
4) Figure out what you enjoy doing for marketing. I love the hashtag games and writer community on Twitter. It's fun and it gets me visibility and sales. If you want to write, consider blogging or guest blogging, or hosting interviews with other authors on your blog.
5) Set aside scheduled time to do your marketing on a daily and weekly basis. Pre-setting your marketing on social media through an aggregator like Hootsuite helps a ton.
6) Remember that all social marketing is like going to a party. You wouldn't walk in to a party and immediately ask random strangers to buy your book. Don't do that online either. Make a connection, get to know people, then let them know about your book and why they might enjoy it. No more than 30% of your posts should be marketing.

But most of all, write great books you're proud of and want to tell the world about.

Just Friends by Stacy Gold
Just Friends

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