Writing Tip Thursday: It’s your baby–help it grow!

I haven’t been working here at Cedar Fort for very long, but I have already gotten a feel of what this publisher, and I’m sure others too, would like to see in their authors once they’ve signed the contract.

First off let’s look at what it means when a publisher finally wants to publish your book and you finally get to sign a contract. Contrary to popular belief, signing a contract with a publisher does NOT mean that you are selling your soul. It is more like entering into a business relationship. And with any business relationship it’s best if you work as partners to mutually benefit each other. You get access to the publisher’s Design, Editorial, and Marketing teams–people who have experience in working with and selling books, and the publisher gets a book that they hope will sell well, though quite often it’s a gamble.

So now you’re partners with the publisher. You hand your book over and let it go, just like sending a kindergartner off to her first day of school. Wrong! Your book is your baby. Nobody is more invested in this project than you. You know your book better than anyone else, so you know how to connect with your readers about it better than anyone else. The publisher needs you to be even more invested than before to help your baby grow and flourish. As Frank L. Cole said in a recent post, “Unless you can sign your name as Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games), J K Rowling (Potter), or Rick Riordan (Percy), you’ll be required to really sell your self along with your book.”

So how do you do that? How do you sell yourself and your book?

Well you start even before you sign a contract by polishing your manuscript. The publisher continues the work of polishing to make it into an even more sellable product. But, as with any product, the trick is to get the word out there. This is where you have to get more creative than when you were writing your book. If you are more willing and able to get out there and share your book with others, the publisher will be more likely to be excited about working with you. But that doesn’t mean that you can be a stalker and hound bookstore managers and radio stations. Coordinate your efforts with the marketing team to get the most publicity.

Remember how I said the publisher takes a gamble when they publish your book? They not only take a gamble on the book, but also on you. You working to promote your book takes a lot of risk out of the decision of whether they should publish your book or not. With that said, here are some things you can do to help your baby grow before and after a contract:

  • Have a specific marketing plan when you submit your manuscript.
  • Have a fan/friend base online already in place so you can quickly get the word out.
  • Polish yourself as well your book. It helps if you are a good speaker and/or good in front of a camera or microphone.
  • Get as many pre-sales as possible. The more pre-sales of your book the more likely the big name bookstores (Amazon, Barnes & Noble) will buy and promote it.
  • Be a nice person to everyone! You never know when you will meet your biggest fan (besides your mother).
  • Have a website or blog where you can connect with your fans and share events, such as books signings, etc. You can even guest post on other blogs to spread the word further.
  • Network with other authors to do combo giveaways or panels on a certain subject. There is power in numbers.
  • Keep writing! Once you get fans, keep them by feeding their hunger with more material. Plus, publishers are more willing to accept a manuscript from a published author.

Caution: Not all books are marketed the same. This is because they don’t all have the same marketability. Some are for very specific audiences, like knitters, some for more general audiences, like parents. Publishers can’t guarantee that you will have a national bestseller. They don’t have a crystal ball that they can figure things out with. But you, working hard, can swing things in your favor.

Is there something else you do to promote your book?

How do you connect with people and stay connected?