New Year Resolutions are to all intents and purposes gimmicks which, as many will attest, tend to fail within a month or two. Nevertheless, this does not decry the reality of such a time of year focusing the mind upon the future. Authors may well find the season an appropriate occasion for considering their schedules and plans. The following provides some ideas of what needs to be included in those plans.
Much of what follows will simply comprise the highlighting of tasks those already on the authoring path will have some knowledge and experience of. However, before that, it is considered only fair to address any new (just starting out) authors who may be reading this.
Wherever a new author may look, they will find consistent advice to commence building their author brand and presence at least six months prior to the proposed date for publication of their first book. The ethos being to do all they can to get themselves known by the reading public and thereby, hopefully, building interest in their book prior to its publication.
Author brand and the building thereof are not the subject of this article. However, some may find the following articles helpful.
- Why have a Website?
- Website Design – Basics
- Author Website – What to include?
- Domain Names
- Proofreading Your Own Work
- Editing Your Own Work
- A Beginners Guide to Marketing
- Facebook Profile or Page?
The above is just a selection of articles new authors may find of assistance. Many more, hopefully helpful, articles may be located within this website by submitting a keyword search or by selecting an appropriate category from the list in the lefthand side-column.
The following should also prove useful.
Preparing the Manuscript
Setting aside the need to maintain their brand and intercommunication with readers and fellow authors, the first primary task for an author is, naturally, to have a manuscript ready for publication. Easy some may say; usually those who have not produced one as yet.
Most authors if they are honest, though there are occasional exceptions, will acknowledge getting a manuscript into its final, printable, version is no quick task. It takes a lot of time, effort, frustration, tears and hysterical laughter or perhaps just plain hysteria. Consequently, it makes sense to plan ahead: to have an ultimate deadline with identifiable stepping stone moments for each stage of the process: First draft (the initial ‘rough’ version); Proofreading (multiple times by self and where available at least once by others); Editing (not to be mixed up with proofreading – each has a different aim); Formatting (often different for print and digital editions as well as for various publishers); Final, quality, printable (physical or digital) editions; etc.
This is different to the hard marketing that will be required later in the process. Authors need to start to mention; talk about; discuss; etc. their forthcoming book sometime before the due publication date. How soon before is often discussed and may frequently simply be down to personal preference. Some will say four months, others two, others a couple of weeks. The main point to bear in mind is not to bore the reader with too many or too early posts etc.
Publicity may be achieved by a variety of methods: Website/Blog articles; Social Media posts; E-mail signatures; Newsletters (if the author has one); Cover reveal (cover should be ready long before publication date); Quotes and/or extracts (best to use parts author is reasonably sure will not be amended in final proofread or edit stages); Comments to other people posts (if relevant and appropriate without spamming); Responses to comments wherever left (again avoiding the potential to spam); etc.
Some authors, primarily those with an established readership, find pre-orders a useful tool for gaining sells. However, setting up a pre-order does require additional time and effort and, depending upon the retailer, may need the author to re-confirm details immediately prior to the release date. To make a pre-order more attractive there are those who will also offer the book at a lower pre-publication price but then must ensure the retail price returns to normal immediately after the period-of-grace. All these actions need to built into schedules.
On the day of publication and in the days immediately following, it makes sense for authors to dedicate large portions of their time to the launch. A few authors go to the extent of having actual, physical, launch events (in a local book shop; in a town or village hall; in a library; etc.). Even without such an event (most independent (indie) authors do not bother with them due, primarily, to the fact they cannot get their books into a brick and mortar bookshop) the author needs to be telling readers the book is available for purchase. How will they know otherwise?
Marketing has always been a vital part of commerce and for the indie author is an essential if they are to see successful sell figures. With the advent of easy to use self-publishing facilities, millions of books get published each year making it hard for one book to get noticed in the crowd. Even with aggressive marketing it can be, and is, difficult. There are various types of marketing an author may avail themselves of however, finding which is the more appropriate and successful takes time, effort and frequently, for those who have the means, money. Those without substantial resources, a majority of indie authors fall into this bracket, marketing has to be geared to social media accounts e.g. Facebook; Twitter; Google Plus; Instagram; and so on. If they have a little in hand, authors may chose to utilise low-cost advertising. Again these tend to be limited to social media outlets. Of course, anyone who is not financially constrained may opt for more robust (and costly) advertising. No matter which method is utilised forward planning and preparation will be required or at least should be undertaken to make the process truly effective.
Thankfully there are many free options, for all aspects of the authoring and publishing process, available to authors these days and for which they should be grateful. Nevertheless, if an author intends to use any paid for services they need, right up front, to dedicate time to establishing a budget and timeline of expenditure. They also need to ensure they understand how advertising services collect fees to ensure the necessary funds are available in the right place at the right time.
Life & Family
It would be very naive to ever consider a longterm plan will not encounter at least one challenge to its completion, usually more. Life is frequently not as straight forward as we would like or hope. Consequently, it is always wise to build in contingencies, even if it is simply as basic as including additional, non-committed, time slots. An extra day or two or even a week or two will help reduce stress and tension should anything unexpected arise, or even if they do not.
Family is also an element many have a tendency, due to enthusiasm or obsession or workaholism, to forget. There is no question family should always take priority. Authoring, for the majority, is primarily, in reality, a pastime or hobby though it is very easy to get so caught up to the point that it sits on the horizon as a vital component of life. No doubt there are many authors now shouting at the ‘audacity’ of such a comment. However, it is the truth and to neglect family (small daily considerations of appreciation and love; children’s sports days; birthdays; anniversaries; school performances; etc.) could well mean its loss.
Author plans therefore need, no, MUST, included blocks for family time (not just for the special occasions or events).
Naturally, the above simply comprises an overview of some aspects an author needs to consider when looking forward and planning for the future.
At the commencement of a planned event (a new book) an author should set up a schedule for each step of the process. Whether this is in the simplistic form of a document with dates; a year to view calendar; or a spreadsheet is immaterial provided it is easy to understand and follow.
Such a plan should include:
- Writing deadlines;
- Publicity actions;
- Pre-order planning (when relevant);
- Book Launch events;
- Marketing plan;
- Financial commitments (where appropriate);
- Family and Life occasions (special days; sports days; birthdays; etc.);
- Any other potential event or aspect the author considers important or relevant.
The essence of such a plan is to ensure the author has a clear idea of timings and how these fit into their day to day processes and life.
Of course, there is a lot more that could be said and included. However, the aim has been to keep this as concise as possible without missing vital components. Readers are welcome to add anything else they consider helpful by means of a comment. They may also submit any questions by the same means or by using this website’s Contact Form.