Writing a book is hard. Even writing a bad book is hard, so they say, but sometimes I wonder . . .
What comes after the writing is finished? It depends.
The logical progression is to check your work (just like school), send the ms off to beta readers, tweak whatever needs tweaking—maybe a lot, maybe just a little, and either start querying or begin the SP process.
If you’re an unknown writer, you need to do a lot more.
First, you have to start getting your name out there—you could blog about the process of writing that book. Or about the book/story itself. Or a character. You can start this before the book is finished, or you can start when it IS finished. But you have to start before it’s published. At minimum.
If you’re in the blogosphere, if you’re in online groups, if you belong to actual, physical groups in your area, you have a much better chance of being recognized and creating opportunities. Or, sometimes, having opportunities drop into your lap.
Oh, it’s not that easy—it takes time. And persistence. And continuity.
Take social media, for instance. It’s a here and now thing. If you post something about yourself or your book today, a certain number of people will see it in the next half-hour, tops. So you post again later that day, or even tomorrow. But if you wait a few days, or a week, no one will remember the last one and no one will pay attention in a cumulative manner.
What’s that saying about sales? A person has to see something at least three times before they’ll remember it. Some blogs/articles will tell you the number is seven, and one says that 20 is the magic number. The point is that a once-a-week “ad” will take forever to see results.
Now, at the same time, you can’t, as we’ve all heard, scream, “BUY MY BOOK!” You have to give value to your potential readers—and by “give,” I mean exactly that. For free.
It could be other blog posts of interest, relative to you or your topic; it could be a freebie to current fans and readers. It could be introductions to other books similar to yours. Anything that your readers would consider “valuable.”
Just don’t be a pest.
Here’s another way to look at it—like a job interview. If you apply for a job, you don’t stop there, right? You follow up in a few days. Maybe again in a couple weeks. If you’re doing online promotion, that translates into a follow-up after a few hours and/or a couple days. At the most.
Same thing for booking personal appearances. BE personable—that’s what it’s all about, after all. Call or email. Or write, via snailmail. Then follow up in a few days, maybe even with a phone call. Be persistent.
But not a pest.
You won’t sell books by doing one event a year; or even two or three. Put yourself out there. Look at spin-offs: lecturing, classes, speaking gigs. Create your own income lines and tie those into your book.
But here’s the rub: you might not sell books at these events. You might sell some, but not make much/any money because of the terms offered. You can’t look at this as a money project—the purpose of events is to get you and your book out there, to become recognized and recognizable.
Of course, you might sell a lot of books too—the point is that a no-sale event is not a failure, it’s just another step.
Start at the beginning and take it one step at a time. Even if your book has been out for a while, it’s never too late to get going. Sometimes, you have to start at the beginning more than once . . .