New Author Checklist: 10 Things to Do

So, you published your book? That is amazing! You should take a minute to revel in the accomplishment. Really. You did something a lot of people dream of doing but never do.

Now, I would take a second to bookmark this page. I’ll wait. Done? Great.

First of all, you don’t need to do everything on this checklist today. I would advise doing one item a day for the next several days.

This is pretty much the list of what I wish I’d known when I started back in 2010. I had to “just figure it out.” There are so many more resources out there now–and so many more doors are open to indie and small pub writers.

So, here we go!

Brand Yourself Not Your Book: This is Publishing 101

I know it’s tempting to make your book the face of everything. There is a place for that. But if you are planning on publishing more than one book, you need to be the face of it. Also, people want to connect with YOU.

Give them a face to connect with and places to find you. Use the same author pic on all your social media if possible. Don’t create a Twitter account for you and your book, just stick with an author account. It’s hard enough to keep up with one account, don’t make your job harder. Now for that checklist…

Checklist

1. Copyright Your Book

If you didn’t copyright your book, then you should do it ASAP. You don’t need to hire anyone to do it. Just create an account using the link below. Then work your way through the form, it’s a pain but by no means impossible.

If there’s a problem, the copyright office will email you for clarification. So, make sure you use an email that you check regularly. It usually takes around six months to get the official paperwork, but you are secure once you upload your book. Don’t wait to start marketing.

Note: All sorts of people are going to line up with their hands out. Save your money and spend it on what counts.

Click here for the US Copyright Office.

2. Setup Your Amazon Author Page

What? You mean Amazon doesn’t autogenerate something for you?

Nope. You need to do it yourself through Author Central. The beauty of this is that you can upload the pictures you want and update your author bio regularly too. You can look at mine here.

Each country has its own Amazon site so you will need to set it up in the US, UK, Germany, Japan, etc. if you are international. Also, if you have an author webpage, make sure you include the link to it in your bio.

I compiled a list to all the Author Central Sites here.

3. Setup Your Goodreads Author Page

Even if you don’t plan on using it much, you should set up your page. This is the largest reader community in the world. There are lots of groups you can join to get your name out there. Getting reviews on Amazon and Goodreads are the two most important places.

Click here to find out more about the Goodreads Author Program.

4. Create an Author Website

I realize that this can be intimidating, but it is important for people to be able to find you. An author website is more than just a hub for all of your links. It should have the following:

1. A Static Landing Page (meaning it stays the same/it’s not a blog). Look at some author websites in your genre for ideas.
2. About Me (your short and extended bio go here). Make it sound like you. I tend to be upbeat and sassy–so my bio page reflects that.
3. Books for your growing list (picture, blurb, and links to buy).
4. Contact Page (just use the default).

You can always add more pages later. I would recommend using WordPress (it’s the largest provider for a reason. And tons of people use and subscribe to their reader).

They have a good selection of free templates and you can start with a free page if you don’t have money to pay for an author URL (personal web address). Later, you can buy a URL and simply map to your new site. There are tutorials on WordPress and YouTube. Of course, it is best to just buy the URL now. If your name is taken, try author on either side of it.

5. Other Social Media Platforms

There are so many other social media platforms. You don’t need to be on all of them. It’s better to pick a few and do them well.

Remember, brand yourself, not your book.

A. For Bookbub.com, claim your Bookbub Author Page here. This platform is growing quickly. When you reach a thousand followers, they will send out emails when you release a new book. Take advantage of any free advertising you can get.

B. For Instagram, you will need to download the app to post pics. But you can log in via your web browser to view your account, like other people’s photos, and follow new people.

C. Pinterest is not only great for visibility, but it’s a great tool too. Here are “Three reasons I love Pinterest.”

D. Create a Twitter account here.

E. Create a FaceBook FanPage here.

F. Create a YouTube Channel for a vlog or podcast.

G. I send all my Instagram pics to Tumblr for extra exposure.

H. Some authors use LinkedIn to connect with others.

I. You can post poetry, shorts, and sneak previews on Wattpad.

6. Manage Your Social Media Efficiently

The last thing you want to do is spread yourself thin. Use tools to make social media faster and more efficient. Don’t pay for anything until you try it for a while. I know it’s all very exciting, but save your money for things like editing, cover design, and advertising.

My favorite way to schedule content is with Hootsuite. You can schedule 30 posts ahead of time for free. It works with Twitter, FB, and Instagram.

The other app I use daily is AppUnfollowers.com. This is only for Twitter, but it helps declutter your lists. There are people out there who follow you and the moment you follow back, they dump you. This is bad behavior and you should unfollow them.

You can also check out this great article “Making Time for Book Promotion” by @PaulineWiles via Bad Redhead Media. She covers useful techniques like “time blocking.” It’s totally worth the read. Twitter: https://twitter.com/badredheadmedia 

7. Look Professional

Created on Canva for my Twitter feed.

I use Canva to create all my postcards, banners, business cards, advertisements, and even my Prompt Me Series covers. It’s free and if you decide to purchase graphics, they are only $1 each. Such a deal!

Choose your fonts wisely. Make sure your books and graphics are appealing by using fonts that are on point. Also, make sure that they are free for commercial use (that goes for pictures, as well as, fonts). My favorite place to find a new font is FontSquirrel. All of them are free for personal and commercial use.

WHAT IS ALWAYS OUT: Comic Sans, Courier, Papyrus, Curlz MT, Trajan, Times New Roman, Arial, and Copperplate Gothic.

ALWAYS IN STYLE: Proxima Nova, Garamond, Gotham, Franklin Gothic, and Brandon Grotesque. (Some of these are defaults)

NOTE: Serif fonts are easier to read for items in print. Sans Serif is easier for items on screens.

8. Collect Email Addresses

I know this is awkward, but do this from the start. Even if you are simply using a Google Form. Google Forms are free if you have a Gmail account and there are tutorials on how to set up a form on YouTube.

To show you a sample, this is a copy of a Google Form I used for a convention. “Robin Woods’ Newsletter Sign Up.” And yes, you can use it to sign up for my newsletter. I only send them out every 6-8 weeks–so you won’t get spammed to death. And, I don’t sell email addresses.

One of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t start this early–learn from my mistake!

9. Follow Some Experts

There are many other things to think about. How much money should you spend on advertising? What works? What doesn’t? How much time should I spend on social media each day?

The landscape is ever changing. My best advice is to do two things:

A. Band together with some other authors and share info. Did you try FB ads? Google Ads? What was the result? How much did you spend? Every genre is different. Learn from each other.

B. Follow some experts and try to learn something new each week. I try to listen to a podcast or read some articles every Friday to expand my knowledge.

Here are a few suggestions:

Mark Dawson’s Self Publishing Formula is a great resource. He’s an indie author who makes over 6 figures a year and shares how he does it.

Jane Friedman’s Blog & Newsletter is fabulous because she is an industry expert and shares her favorite free resources regularly.

K.M. Weiland’s Blog and Newsletter is full of great info to improve your craft.

Most indie authors never sell more than 150 books–ever. Selling books takes consistency. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t sell hundreds your first month. To quote Dori, “Just keep swimming… Just keep swimming… Just keep swimming…”

10. Don’t Make Everything a Sales Pitch

I know you’re excited, but don’t make every post about sales. Try to make real connections. The writing community can be an amazingly supportive place. Support other authors. Follow them back. Retweet their books too. Don’t make everything a one-way street. Write reviews for books you read and buy. The Golden Rule truly applies.

What else should you talk about? Check out this list from Forbes Magazine, “100 Killer Ideas for your Social Media Content.

Did I miss anything?
Do you have other questions?
What do you wish you had known?
Please add your best advice in the comments. Thank you!

P.S.
This might be helpful. I have a list of common publishing terms and abbreviations here. If MS, WIP, and RRP seem foreign, check it out and sound like a pro. 🙂

Ignite Your Creative Writing Potential

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