People lay bricks for many different reasons. Whether you are building for a brick home, a drive through, or storefront, the process is the same. Like mathematics, as long as you have the basic formula for masonry you can succeed in brick laying. As long as you remember to add, subtract, multiply, and divide you can solve any seemingly complex mathematical equation. Unless of course you’re like me and you hate math.
Nonetheless, Self-Publishing is the same way. Once you’ve established the basics of building a book, you can do so repeatedly and that is what this series is all about. Everything else is just an add on. You may have built a house but it doesn’t have to stay the way you built it. You can add rooms, roofing, or extra bathrooms if you want.
Now that we’ve written a well written story, gotten it edited, beta read, and critiqued, now what?
Advanced Reviews, Pre-Launch
This episode took me a little longer. It took me longer because writers can do this in many different ways. Self-Publishing doesn’t have any official rules and for that this step can in fact also include marketing and promotion. To keep things simple, let’s just focus on building the book first. So, in this episode of Laying Bricks it is time to pull out your multipurpose hat.
Advanced Book Reviews
Once your book is the way it was meant to be, it is time to send it off for advanced reviews. This process is most important as it helps you to garner reviews in advanced. In this way, by the time the book is released, your reviews can help the book to sell. With Indie’s doing everything themselves, reviews give us room to depend on some outside help.
When deciding who you want to review your book, there are a few things to keep in mind:
Genre – Not a neccessity, but can be very helpful. When someone reviews your book who is actually part of that books genre— let’s say a fan of Historical Fiction reviewing your HistFic masterpiece—you have a better chance at expanding your audience. This isn’t to say anyone can’t review you at all, just that those of your genre makes it that much better. When you desperately send your book out to anyone, you increase your chances of marketing your book to the wrong audience.
Desperation – Speaking of desperation, don’t be desperate. I know, desperate times cause for desperate measures! However, take some time and be a little strategic about who you send your books out to. Target people who are not only in your genre but who have a passion for books with a genuine love for reading. Visit their websites and blogs to make sure they’re a real person, that they’ve reviewed books before, and that their subscriber number is decent. Listen, don’t get the wrong idea here. I’m not saying it’s all about the numbers because its not. I’m saying you want to get the most of the experience.
While we all have to start from somewhere, quality attracts quality. The whole point of reviews is to help the author. That said, make sure there’s enough of that reviewers’ blog traffic to make a difference for your book in some way. If you choose to pay for a review, make sure the prices are reasonable and that the person or company is well-established. There are lots of frauds out there and people taking advantage of Self-Publishers and you wouldn’t want to cause any unwanted attention to your Amazon account.
Follow The Rules – Every serious Book Reviewer has a list of rules and regulations to accompany their services. Paid or not paid, Reviewers must have a policy in place. This is important because books take up a lot of time. As much as I love to read, I cannot possibly read every single book that comes my way. In addition, though reading books is personal, even it requires some order.
- Research the reviewer < Make sure they are real people and not weirdos. Yes, weirder than me.
- Submit your request exactly as their policy states.
- Pay special attention to the books they do not accept so you don’t get an email back and become that guy. Or girl.
- Address the reviewer by name, make it personal. Try not to sound thirsty or in other words, desperate (even if you are).
- Follow their blog, follow their social media. Make sure this reviewer’s energy and the vibe is fitting for your book. This isn’t to say reviewers don’t read a wide range of material, it’s just about you the author being strategic and getting the most out of the experience.
- Consider the reviewers time. Yes, they are agreeing to read books for free but you aren’t the only person in the world. Reviewers get tons of emails a day from Indie Authors requesting reviews. Keep in mind that there may be a line. As such, if your book is 300 or more pages, don’t expect that reviewer to finish it in two weeks. If you have a deadline, be sure to contact the reviewer far enough in advance to meet your deadline and be realistic about it. Reviewers may read fast on their own leisure time, but to review a book is to study it enough to give sensible feedback. No, it’s not an academic assignment or anything but it’s not a race either. Give people time to really read it if you want to get the most logical feedback. If you want us to scan it and throw some stuff together, we can do that too. Your choice.
- Don’t be rude. With the exception of a few because I know there are some, most of us to include yours truly, do not promise 5-star reviews. In fact, we are not reading your book in exchange for a glowing review at all. If the book is not up to par do not expect to be lied to unless of course, that’s your thing. If a reviewer gives you a low rating, don’t curse them out. Try to understand that whether the book was good or not they invested something they can never get back: Their time. They’ve done you a great service. Take the advice and use it to further perfect your work.
First, what is a pre-launch strategy? According to The Marketing People:
“Premarketing is the foundation stage of any marketing plan to enable business development. Prior to any marketing, SEO or social marketing, this step ensures that you have the right brand. The right website, stationery, brochure/catalog and other related sales and marketing tools in place. To ensure you capitalize on your ongoing marketing and sales team activity.”
In addition to garnering advanced reviews, you need something to do while your book is being read. This is a great time to start pre-launch strategies.
I hope that by now you’ve already established a few things:
- Blog / Website
- Email Newsletter
- Social Media Accounts
If you do not already have these stop writing right now. Yes, step away from the computer, put the pen down and grab the laptop. Now go to your room young man / lady. Yes, you. Close the door and don’t come out until you have social media accounts up, a blog or website, and an email newsletter.
When I first started publishing, I followed the following trend:
- Write book
- Publish Book
- Tell people about book (quietly)
- Wait for people who I didn’t tell about the book to find me
This isn’t wrong necessarily (well, the last one is), it’s just out of order a bit. It’s not how you promote, it’s when. Marketing and Promoting your book when it comes out should just be one aspect of it. In last week’s article Planning Book Releases in Advance, we spoke a little bit about this. That is, planning for your books arrival at least six months to one year in advance. Plan for your books release before, during, and after the book is written.
If you haven’t done so, no worries, there is hope.
If you have not taken the time to plan pre-launch strategies for your book, do so now while your book is being read.
- Build a Fan Base
OK, so your book isn’t out yet but what are you doing to prep people for it? This is a question I ask myself every day.
Social media is not really about selling books even if you’re like me with an online bookstore. Social media is about building relationships. As a result, these relationships lead to sales in an indirect kind of a way. Writers of books are supposed to be experts on the subject matter in which they are writing. This means that writers can utilize other writing methods to help draw attention to their book without constantly talking about the book itself.
No matter what your area is, sharing insight on that topic helps to build trust and interest in people. Writing flash fiction or sharing excerpts helps people to get used to your voice and style, posting articles, news clips, and other things help people to understand your passion and focus as well. As a result, they’ll be interested to see what that book is about.
There’s no guarantee they will want to buy the book but a relationship has formed and relationships are what you want.
- Special Offers
While your book is being read, you can also offer something exclusive in preparation for your books release. Let’s face it, everybody wants to be exclusive and official (lbs). Make people feel special by giving something away ahead of time. Though a pre-order of your book is nice (especially a signed hardcopy), try to do something different. Give away a small journal, amazon gift card or Starbucks gift card. Whatever it is, put some effort into it. Let your genuine love for the people shine through (people can tell if you’re just being phony because you want them to buy your book). If you give away a book, make it an exclusive super-duper official one. Make sure we know that only the best of the best can qualify for this baby here.
- Book Cover Design
We’ll speak more about this next week, but this is a good time to get started on that book cover design!
Remember: Pre-Marketing is the first stage to business development. As an Indie Author, you are that business.
I know its not much, but I sure do hope that this information has been helpful. As always, I am following my own advice and am passing along information in my journey as I learn. I am always humbled at whomever wishes to join me.
Be sure to subscribe to my email newsletter for more tips, updates on my upcoming projects, free excerpt chapters and articles not yet published to this blog, book promotions, and more.
Next– Let’s Paint the House!
Next, we’ll talk about decorating your brick house.
Disclaimer. Everything I share on Self-Publishing is always based on my own experience and research because I believe you can’t advise people on stuff you haven’t really tried. It’s just best if you’ve walked those shoes. So, that said I do not profess to be an expert. There are too many of them out there for you to glean from. Now, should you find information on this blog useful? Whoo hoo! Go for it.
Missed the first three episodes?
(About Focusing on the Story)
(About the Revision)
Hot PBS Self-Publishing Topics to Date:
- Show and Tell: The Show vs. Tell Debate Critiqued
- Reading to Write: Message for Aspiring Authors
- The Business of Writing 101: (6 Basics)
- 4 Common Sense Reasons It Can Benefit You to Self-Publish
- The Workflow
- You Are Not JK Rowling
- Paperback Comeback
- Do It Yourself Promo Tools
Yecheilyah Ysrayl is the YA, Historical Fiction author of The Stella Trilogy. She is currently working on her next book series “The Nora White Story” about a young black woman writer who dreams of taking part in The Harlem Renaissance movement and her parents struggle to accept their traumatic past in the Jim Crow south. “Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One)” is due for release spring, 2017. For updates on this project, sneak peek of chapters and the pending book cover release for this project, be sure to follow this blog and to subscribe to Yecheilyah’s email list HERE.