A common misperception many first-time authors seem to share is that once they’ve delivered the final draft of their manuscript to their editor, their work is done. By all means, revel in the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel when you email that final draft off to your editor. It’s a tremendous achievement and quite unlike anything you may ever have experienced. But also note that you need to build a platform.
Why? The truth is, while you may feel the worst is behind you, you’re wrong. You may very well have written the next New York Times bestseller, but unless you’re prepared to market the heck out of your book and yourself as an author – or hire an outside publicist to help you do this – that precious accomplishment of yours is probably not going to sell. If no one knows who you are, no one’s going to pick your book off the shelf or download it from Amazon.
So what does this mean? It means you need to be aggressively letting everyone you know—and more importantly, everyone you don’t know—that you’ve published a book and that they need to go out and buy it. Sure, publishers have their in-house sales and marketing teams, but more often than not, they are going to rely on you to help them reach out to the marketplace.
Having worked both as an agent representing authors to publishers and as an acquisitions and development editor for publishers, time and again, where I see the author-publisher relationship break down is over marketing and promotion.
It’s never too early to start the pitch process. I’ve seen all too many worthy projects fall by the wayside because the author hasn’t been diligent in building his or her marketing platform. Quite simply, many publishers won’t even consider acquiring a new project unless the author has a proven marketing track record.
It’s all about PLATFORM, PLATFORM, PLATFORM! This is perhaps the most overused word in the publishing lexicon. Do yourself a favor: Get acquainted with it, make it your friend, and use it to your best advantage. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter are great places to start. If you don’t currently have an account with one of these social media sites, sign up for one today.
Also, it’s a good idea to create an author or book website. With DIY sites like WordPress and Square Space available for free or at very little cost, authors can equip themselves with the tools to develop and launch their own website with relative ease. It is now almost a given for an author to have one. You can post new and updated content, write a blog to keep your readers and fans in-the-know about what you’re doing and where you’re going to be, and include information that lets readers know where they can buy or download your content.
Anything you as an author can do to help your publisher (and yourself) spread the word about your book and your message, should pay off in sales down the road. It’s never too early to start!
Jon Malysiak is the founder and president of JFM Editorial, a literary services agency based in Chicago. Follow him on Twitter: @JonMalysiak
Note: Jon also works with us at Networlding and has been a wonderful partner on many great book projects.