I am simply blown away by all the hard work my client Gerald Freeman has put into publishing his second memoir. During the process of critiquing a draft and then copy editing the revised version, I have also made a lifelong friend. I was also happy to recommend Laura Wright LaRoche of LLPix Designs for assisting with the cover and Denise Baer of Baer Books press for formatting the manuscript for publication.
It should also be mentioned that this list of ten great things that can happen in your first year as a published author comes with the caveat that Gerald Freeman’s second year can be your first, if you trust in what he says. Believe me, this is one author that puts his all into getting his story into the hands of appreciative readers.
1. Finding the right editor, cover designer, and book formatter. This is the most important stage of the whole process and an essential part, which if skipped will do a disservice to all the hard work you have done and deny readers the opportunity to read your story at its best. For me it was actually the second time round that this happened because I had not read a blog post like this warning me of the perils of doing it all alone. (actually I did, but felt confident I could-I was wrong). Once you and your team have completed the project, you can go out into the marketing jungle with a definite advantage over many and shout it from the rooftops that your book has been professionally made. It has definitely opened a lot more doors for me and I find I can get access to more respectable blogs and websites that have a wider audience and a greater ability to reach readers.
2. Being introduced to other professionals by somebody you have already worked with. This creates a great feeling of trust and respect for all parties involved and in my opinion it is a good place to start looking for the services you require. Of course, there is that extra element or click, which has to happen before you commit to the person you were recommended, on more than one occasion I was lucky enough for this to happen. But there is no obligation and it doesn’t always happen. Sometimes you have to continue your search for the right person without feeling duty bound, after all it was only a friendly referral.
3. Doing a cover reveal and starting on your pre-publishing marketing strategy. I actually took my own photograph, which involved making two wooden signs and nailing them to a tree outside my house. One of the signs says Past and the other says Future, representing my decision to try and forget a traumatic childhood and move forward to more positive things. I sent it off to the person my editor recommended to me for her to play around with. When I got it back I was ecstatic that she’d made the half of the cover that was in the past black and white and the half of the cover representing the future was bright and colorful. She really seemed to have got the idea of the story and added that extra ‘it factor’ to our relationship.
Sharing it all over the social network and receiving positive feedback from potential readers and colleagues helped create a buzz for my book before it even came out. I have to squeeze in the incredible effect this had on my book when it was on Kindle, but not yet ready for sale. I looked at the Amazon page one day and saw it had reached 90,000 on the Amazon list and it wasn’t even on sale, yet–I recommend opting into the pre-order option, too, because that was another unexpected surprise, which helped make this journey so much more memorable and fun.
She really seemed to have got the idea of the story and added that extra ‘it factor’ to our relationship.
4. Opening your front door to find the postman standing there with a huge box containing your first proofread copies from CreateSpace. I always order five. I just feel I’d be disappointed to receive only one when I am pretty sure that after all the polishing and editing my team have made, the mistakes are going to be minimal. I affectionately call them my limited editions and they usually end up in the hands of friends. Looking at a real book with your name on it, which is potentially going to be sold all over the world is an almost cathartic feeling, but then when I looked in my wife’s eyes and saw the pride she had for me it was genuinely overwhelming.
5. Discovering amazing blogs and websites, whose owners you manage to make a real connection with, which doesn’t happen all the time. When there is a mutual appreciation of each other’s work, you know you’ve made a colleague for life. This relationship will, more often than not, become a natural mutually beneficial marketing tool because you will both have the genuine desire to promote each other. The Woven Tale Press is an example of one such professional connection for me–thank you Sandra and team.
6. Doing your first guest post, which in the beginning sounds daunting and perhaps a lot of hard work for nothing. I was pleasantly surprised to find it took me out of my comfort zone and pushed me into reflecting a little on why I was writing and what I hoped to achieve. When I finished my first one and realized how much I enjoyed the art of writing and not just writing stories, I felt great satisfaction. Then, when I saw it appear on someone’s blog and I was able to share it on social, media sites, reaching an audience much larger than I ever would have imagined, it was another fulfilling moment. In truth, there are very few blogs that I have posted on that receive enough traffic to have a great number of views, so it is down to you to promote it as much as possible. When I was lucky enough to be accepted on a blog that regularly receives fifty plus replies to a guest post, it was another exhilarating moment in my first year as a published author. My article had already been exposed to so many people before I’d begun sharing it myself. I also noticed that a few of these blog followers then shared the post on their social networking sites and my reach was broadening.
7. Selling your first book, now that is when things really get interesting. You are excitedly learning how to navigate your way around the KDP select dashboard, realizing that it probably only gets updated every couple of hours or so, but that every time you wait long enough to have a peek, more books will have been sold–this is obviously during a period when you have placed your book on various free or low cost promotional sites. There is a great list of such places at E-book Booster. My best to date was two thousand books downloaded in twenty-four hours, however this was a free promotion, which I will never do again- I’ve worked too hard to give away this new book I Don’t Believe God Wrote The Bible. I spent the next day floating around on my euphoria, barely acknowledging the people I interacted with, such were the dreams of success and happiness that filled my head- seeing as I am teacher, I wonder what my students made of it.
8. Receiving your first positive review, which does not have to be five star. This gave me a real sense of satisfaction, knowing that a complete stranger on the other side of the world had read my book and enjoyed the journey. Because I’d sent out so many review requests I was lucky in that I received quite a few reviews in a short space of time, and even luckier that they were for the most part very flattering. This really encouraged me, but then when a completely random person contacted me out of the blue after reading my first book Kill Daddy, thanking me profusely for helping her understand why certain people in her life had acted in the way they did, I truly felt I’d achieved something important. After that, I couldn’t wait to write my next book for my number one fan and others I accumulated thereafter.
9. Watching your FB page, website, and blog getting more and more traffic. Readers want to know about the person behind the story, continually talking about your book forever will exhaust people in the end. I found that there were people who connected with my personal thoughts and philosophies on a wide variety of topics. They then began looking at other sites and pages I had created, which were completely off topic from the book, to find out more about what made me tick. I strongly believe that getting to know me has inspired them to read future books that I will write.
10. Having the person you love telling you they like your book! My wife is 100 pages in at this moment. Here is the blurb for this travel memoir of spiritual discovery:
After a near-fatal drug overdose in the late 1980s, Gerry Freeman leaves England in search of a better life and spiritual awakening. While hitchhiking around the South of France, he and his friend Jan meet an eclectic mix of carefree hippies, dashing celebrities, and kind-hearted strangers.
Wine and parties abound—on the streets and beaches, wherever they find themselves—but the good times often come at the price of begging and having to steal food to survive.
Past mental and physical abuse haunts Gerry, but he begins to realize happiness is a choice. Sometimes it takes a journey that spans lazing on the beaches of the French Riviera, harvesting grapes in the serene hills of wine country, and washing dishes at a ski resort in the Alps to learn answers that lurked inside all along. Anyone can start caring again.
What approach do you take toward marketing your work?
The cover image used in this post is for promotional purposes only and complies with fair use guidelines. Permission must be granted by Gerald Freeman to use the book launch photo featured in this post.
What a great post! So much really GOOD and valuable information, that I am bookmarking it! Congratulations….well done and I wish for you much success in this endeavor:)
I just felt there were enough dos and don’ts and it was time for spreading the good that comes out of learning in this industry. Thanks for the thumbs up!
A lot of this advice is about getting the right help when you need it. That’s not something I’m good at. My usual approach is that I can do everything myself. A good lesson.
I agree, but would describe my experience as more going with the flow, than accepting help..if you know what I mean- it was painless lol.
Gerry (I hope it’s okay to call you that seeing that we don’t know each other.), I’ve toyed with the idea of doing some of the work after the last draft by myself. After all, all of these people do expect to be paid, which is only fair. You have made it abundantly clear that I need to find the money. I’m so glad you wrote this piece on Jeri’s blog.
I am made up that you have enjoyed the article. The biggest diference I noticed with having Jeri do her magic was when I read the final story and it seemed to glide rather than trundle along-
All I can add is: Brilliant! I loved this!
All I can add is a massive thank you!!
I agree with Gerald regarding getting that first positive review from a stranger – what a wonderful feeling that is! I spent my first year as a published author writing and editing book two so my marketing efforts weren’t that successful! They still aren’t! Best of luck to you Gerald – book has an amazing title!
Keep writing and good luck with your projects. Thank you for the thumbs up on my title, I hope it entices people into the book.
Congratulations to Gerald on the new book! I think marketing before the book comes out is a must-do, whether you self-publish or use a traditional publisher. I also would add that starting to make profiles at the major social networks before the book comes out is a must-do (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and G+) if you haven’t already, so that you can get your name known and a presence made. Great post here!
yes, I have built up a few great colleagues and joined them on the social networks, too. This really is about literally spreading the word, isn’t it? and about having your story filter into the right hands-a slow but sure process. Thx for the encouragement!
What a great post. Such excellent and complete advice on all fronts for self publishing. I will be bookmarking this post in case I do go the route of self publishing.
Thank you for the comment A.K.
the list is already getting longer. I forgot about the great support, which can be found here from people like you. Thanks it goes a long way.
There is no doubt that publishing a book is an exhilarating as well as a learning experience for a writer. I have been in the same boat, trying to weigh the joy and the travails at the same time.
That is an amazingly symbolic cover Gerald, I must congratulate you for such creativity as it has added so much value to your book. Thanks for sharing all these reflections here…they resonate with me, not very good at marketing. I am grateful for that link you have provided here.
Yes, extremely exhilaratingand full of surprises-the cover just came together so naturally, so glad it speaks to you. Happy writing.
Excellent guest post dear Jeri… These tips are certainly accurate I think…
Numbers#1, #5, #6, #8 seems important when it comes to build an audience base and getting sales…
But, for a more personal rason, I’d say that number #10 is priceless!.
Thanks for sharing JWB & GF… All my best wishes!, Aquileana 🙂
Thanks for the comment- I do not know that what was true for me can be true for everyone, but I do not see why I should be the only one to have such luck- I think being friendly and honest on the net gains trust and is one of the best marketing and making friend/colleague tools. All the best to you.
Lots of insights and great tips. Thank you for sharing your wisfom.
thanks for taking the time to comment. I think it’s some experience, not yet wisdom. Have a great day!
This was great Gerald and thank you for sharing him here with us, Jeri! I was especially interested in the marketing you did prior to the book going on sale. That is amazing to build up that much momentum ahead of time. Great job, thank you for the incredible input, advice and suggestions and my best to you, sir! 🙂
Most of it was my tiny tiny fan base- e few readers I connected with on my first book and have kept in contact with on social media- one of them at least is a top friend of my wife now on FB. I am actually offering my new book to those such people in paperback, a way of saying thanks- didn’t stop some of them buying the ebook and sending their congrats, though.
Hey Gerry, great post! I totally agree with your advice to work with professionals. I love what your designer did with the cover. I’m intrigued and will definitely check out your latest book.
thanks for the support. Yes, I cannot imagine ever doing a book again without the help of a team, which I hope will stay the same as it is. Not excluding anyone, but Jeri and Denise and Laura were great to work with.
I remember your first post on Jeri’s blog — it’s fantastic to see where you’re at now, Gerald! Thanks for all the great tips, and congratulations. I wish you great success and, more importantly, happiness.
Gosh,what a nice thing to say… Jeri has helped in my literal upbringing. I found an education here x
You represent what it is we build up and create here. I so apreciate your words-reminds me where I have come from on this journey. Happy carnival wekend from Portugal x
I love his candor, especially the part about writing the guest post! This book sounds fascinating, and it’s so exciting and encouraging to hear of his success.
I might call it satisfaction, rather than success… I would use the word modestly so as not to come across over confident, but I really appreciate your words and solidarity among colleagues.
I’ve never considered ordering more than one proof copy from CreateSpace. After reading how you always order five and call them your “limited editions,” I will certainly be ordering more when Letters to Julian is ready for proofing! I might even sell them at a special price, too, considering they’re special!
Thanks for that awesome tip! 🙂
I guarantee they get in the hands of friends, quicker than you can find time to suggest it to them.It is also a good way to get feedback without labelling them beta readers- one of my friends took offence at that term.. Good luck with Letters to Julian.
Great post, Gerry and Jeri! Hard work pays off and I love the picture of you with your books. The cover is great. I wish you the best with your writing endeavors. Congratulations!
Hey Denise thanks for helping me with my book!!! and thank you for the encouragement. We´ll work together again I am sure.
Great list of advice. It really points out all the work an author needs to do after the writing. Good luck with your book sales.
Yes, Donna now it is about which strategy to adopt. This time I am going to go the way of entering competitions seeing as I am so confident about the editing. It is something I have never done, but I am looking forward to the experience. Thank you for taking the time to comment.
Reading the story of someone’s journey success is inspriationaI. I feel as if I’m along for the ride from beginning to end.I can imagine the feeling satisfaction someone feels from taking a seed of an idea, nurturing that idea for months or years up to the moment of sitting at a book signing. Perhaps being an inspiration to others could be number eleven on the list.
Hi Pamela, I am so wary of using the word success, but as I read these comments I get more confident to use it. I do not know what monetary success I will have with this book, I am trying a completely new strategy. I have actually perhaps made my first mistake not having the book on promo the day it came out. However, I thought it would be disrespectful to the people who pre ordered it-perhaps pre ordering is not such a great option… I will definitely be writing blog posts on this journey, too. I could comment for a long time on your kind words, suffice to say it was a pleasure to get them, they are food for thought, thank you.
This is my first year of being an author and I have gone through these steps. A lot of these steps were exciting, but it is also filled with many disappointments. I know my publisher provided me with the worse book cover possible, and although I have gotten some good reviews, my book sales are dismal.
I guess, like anything else, being an author is filled with good or bad.
The highlight of the year, has been meeting new people like yourself.
And same back to you, William. Wow, you have a publisher, that’s a good start. All I can say is that I truly believe the biggest obstacle is getting your book seen. By the law of averages there must be 50000+ people in the world who would read my book, but finding them is the hassle- even for certain publishers maybe. Happy writing.
wow, and here I thought all you had to do was write the book, maybe get an editor, and put it out on the web and people would just line up to buy it. Guess it doesn’t work that way huh? Great post and great advice.
Hi and thank you for taking the time to comment. God, I didn’t sound patronising, did I? Jeri was suposed to edit that… I just hope newcomers can glean something from it.
This reminds me of ‘it takes a village’. It really does take a team of great people to make one a success. It’s not just about the book itself, but about the journey and the people you meet along the way. Congrats to you!
and to think many of us are so reluctant for so long, Cheryl. Yes, humans do better as a team.
Great list Jeri. I’ve only published eBooks at this point but I remember very well when I published my first. Everyone said that if you were REALLY lucky you’d make $100 in your first year as an author – “especially if you write nonfiction” – or so I was told. So honestly I didn’t have high expectations, I just felt good about doing it. But then something really strange happened, the book racked up $200 in sales on the first day and it’s now nearly 2 years and 5 books later and that puppy continues to sell like it has taken on a life of it’s own. Of course I do believe that one big thing I had in my favor was that I’d been blogging for 2 years and already had a solid platform before I ever published that book – that really does make a difference.
very encouraging Marquita, thank you for that.
Gerald — I don’t think you mentioned the importance of having a great title. Yours is a real grabber. I want to know what you mean by “I Don’t Believe That God Wrote the Bible.” You invite an interactive experience by using the word “I.” Also, your blurb is terrific — it makes me want to read the book. All the best.
Thanks for the comment. The title is essentially rebeling against the religious and restrictive environment I was brought up in and all the things I wasn’t allowed to do because God wouldn’t like it. I believe religion restricts people rather than sets them free, at least the way many interpret it does. I believe in a God and have spoken to him everyday for as long as I can remember, not anti God just anti misinterpretation.
Your article had me riveted from word one to the end. I have ever published a book or even written one but that dream is inside me. Reading this post and others that have found there way onto Jeri’s site have been inspirational to say the least.
Thank you for your inspirational and motivating words, Tim. I wish you a fantastic writing journey when the time is right for you to get started. This blog is a fantastic place for everything writing!
We always learn from experiences and it is great to share experiences with others so they can get some benefit. It is such a great post and there are many great points and suggestions. Thank you for sharing. I hope that your book will do good and all the best to you.
I so believe in sharing experiences- it makes us all stronger. Thanks for the support have a great weekend.
Great post. #2 is on of the keys to good networking.
yes, building up a team of colleagues is exhilarating- in fact, it takes priority over more than I had imagined.
This was so informative. I love how you tied everything into what was already working for you, i.e., your students, your wife, a major fan, etc. It all appears natural and seamless. I know you’ll enjoy great success, and I hope to have my cover ready soon. Visuals of the book cover make it real for potential readers, which you basically said.
itruly appreciate the encouraging words-seamless is an adjective that positively describes many things and I take it as a great compliment. Would love to see your book cover when it is ready.
Hi, this gives me hope and perseverance to keep writing. It is a huge accomplishment to publish a book! You are awesome!
Sincerely, Crystal Ross
Such a nice comment- I hope you are inspired to write your book- get the first few pages done and you will be addicted.
Reading these success stories is inspiring and encouraging. Bravo to him for having such good fortune with his hard work.
Rosemary, getting to know Gerry and his many creative pursuits have been a great joy.