A-Z of book publishing: finishing

You are an author!

The final edit is complete and you've read the manuscript so often you could recite it backwards. Well done. Now, make a brew and plan the next steps. 

There are so many stages when writers think they are finished. It might be:

  • Seeing the proofs of the pages

Approving the book cover design

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  • Knowing that CreateSpace is finally happy with the file and you can stop hitting your head on the desk. 

But this is only halfway, my friend. Once the book has been printed or formatted and you have celebrated your wonderful achievement, there are copies to be sold. If you've done the right thing and got a designer to provide a striking cover design then you're on the way, but the most beautiful design won't sell you copies by itself. So how can you raise the game and be your own sales team if you're as introverted as me?

Here are a few options:

  • Book launches are huge amounts of fun and relatively easy to arrange. Look at venues that may have a connection to your book or are budget friendly. Hire a room in a pub perhaps so you don't have to worry about the drinks bill (though you may wish to toast your guests or your book) and get creative. If you've got a fiction book then you can provide a reading and sign copies. If you know actors, then ask them to perform a small piece for your audience. Factual book authors may wish to talk about the subject, share photos or take guests on a walk - literally or via a film.
  • Social media is a great way to get your book noticed. Post updates on your progress as you write, share thoughts about the characters, cover reveals and share your book launch. Post Facebook live feed of a reading.
  • Marketing material must show the cover to provide a visual link, so get the final cover file from the designer as soon as you can. I always start the cover design whilst the author is checking first proofs. 
  • Visit independent bookshops and literary festivals and say hello. Nobody likes a pushy author but you could leave a well-crafted press release with the organisers or the shop manager. One of my favourite books on how to write a press release is this one by Janet Murray
  • Listen to podcasts on books and get yourself a guest spot where you can. There are hundreds of reading groups out there.
  • Are you a book group member? Could you persuade a group to read and review the book in exchange for a free copy (the only problem can be getting the reviews but arranging a follow-up chat and asking them to write their thoughts down works well).
  • Local radio and the press are a great way to broadcast your new book. Again a good press release and professional headshots are a must here. Make the task of presenting your book really easy for the busy staff. And do invite them to your book launch!

The other key thing to say is that you have to keep going. It's no good thinking the launch is the end. If you do that, then you'll have a cupboard full of printed books taunting you or embarrassingly low sales online.  Working out a plan before you even start putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard is the ideal. As you write you may have ideas for selling. Record then somewhere safe - Trello is my go-to for this - and refer back to as you reach critical proof stages and see what you can implement as you go along.

Whatever you do, take time to congratulate yourself on your success. So many writers start and never finish. You have, and that deserves a celebration. Just remember to invite me!