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.