Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What to do Before You're Published


Friends, today I'm delighted to have C. Lee McKenzie here to give us advice about what we can do before we're published. Lee's latest book, Double Negative, is available now!

What To Do Before You’re Published
by C. Lee McKenzie

When I started writing fiction, I didn’t know much of anything about the business. Let’s be honest. I didn’t know anything. So what I’ve set out here is all that I’ve learned since 2009 when my first book came out. I know it’s not complete, and if I write the same kind of article in the future, it will be different. One thing I’ve learned is publishing doesn’t stay the same. 

If I could start again, these are the things I’d do before I published a book.
  1. Have a professional website and/or blog designed. 
  • Be sure the navigation is easy and the pages easy to read.
  • Buy a domain name. Mine’s cleemckenziebooks. I wish it were simply cleemckenzie. The simpler the better. 
  • Don’t use music. People often browse in public places and music isn’t always appreciated.
  • Be sure people can pull up your site on all their mobile devices.
2. Become visible on Social Networking Media
  • Goodreads. Even if you don’t have a book, you’re probably a reader, so join in. In fact, this is where I interact more as a reader than a writer. 
  • Shelfari. You can add in a list of your characters and a brief description. You can write a short blurb, and a longer summary. You can list your chapter titles. And because Shelfari is owned by Amazon, any changes you make here show up on your Amazon book page.
  • Facebook. This can be a place to meet more writers who are struggling with the same issues you are. Join some groups. Contribute.
  • Twitter. This is a great tool to point the way to your other pages. Join Chats about writing and books. Tweet and don’t forget to ReTweet. I like Tweetdeck (sometimes :-) because I can schedule Tweets days in advance. Planning ahead will be very important after you’re published.
  • LinkedIn. This is a community that offers helpful Forums. You can ask a lot of questions and get some excellent answers. 
  • Amazon. Poke around Amazon and see how it works. 
*Be aware of Authors Central and what you can do there once you’re published.
*Understand the pros and cons of KDP Select, in which you give Amazon a 90-day exclusive to sell your book. It has advocates and those who dislike it. Here’s a great discussion by Jane Friedman.
*Find out how to use Tags to your benefit. They’re important and can be tricky. One way to find out about them is to check out the “Also-Boughts" section. Find books like yours and see how authors have tagged them.
*Find out how to get Likes. They add to your chances of being noticed. I don’t do a lot of this, but if someone invites me to like them I do, if their site is appropriate. And I invite them to like me back. It doesn’t take that much time. Sometimes people invite me to a “Like Party.” If I’m in the mood, I’ll jump in, but it isn’t my favorite promotional tool.
*Find out about Lists and how they work to your benefit.

3. Get to know who reviews what and start a list with their links for easy reference. You can find reviewers who have read and reviewed books similar to yours on Amazon.

4. Find sites that promote books. Be ready to offer promotions such as giveaways on their sites. Here are a couple I like and they’re free for a basic listing: Book Daily and Ask David.

5. Investigate email marketing. Begin to collect emails of people who know you, know your work, are readers as well as writers. 

6. Think budget. How much do you plan to spend on promo and where? Book trailer? Facebook ads? Goodread ads/giveaways? Amazon free days?  (if you go with KDP Select) 

7. Find bloggers with a following. Follow them, support them when their books come out. Make your site interesting and not all about you and your forthcoming book. Above all, be honest. Show people who you are and what you’re about. Also never snark, unless it’s in jest. Even then be careful. 

8. Last suggestions: Remove any inactive blog from your profile. Remove Word Verification and set your blog to Must Approve. That will flash, “Your comment will become available after approval.” That’s so much better than WV.

That’s about it from me, but there’s so much I still haven’t pulled together. Some things I just will never have time to do. Some things I don’t want to do. My goal is to keep everything current. When I say I’ll do something on my blog or in any forum, I do it, or I explain why I can’t. Life does have other things going on besides books, and other writers understand.

Also don’t be discouraged when you publish and your book doesn’t hit the bestseller list. Do your promo, and if you’ve created a book people want to read, it will sell. Sometimes it skyrockets, then plunges in sales. Sometimes it sells at a steady but slow pace. While any of this is happening, keep your promo on track and write that next book.


Easy? Nope.

Fellow writers, what do you think about Lee's list? Have you done all of these things? Most of them? Does the list intimidate you? Anything else you'd like to add to the pre-published to-do list? Please share!

About Double Negative: Sixteen-year-old Hutch McQueen is a smart kid who can barely read. He makes one bad choice after another, trying to find a way to escape his rotten life at home and at school. Each time he gets into more trouble.

45 comments:

  1. Excellent list, Lee. Still not on Facebook, but I get by without it.
    Thanks for the two book site links.
    And tags. Need to look into that...

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    1. Her article is much more complete and good to read.

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    2. Thanks for the visit, Alex! I can't believe you're still not on Facebook! But heck, you're probably saving yourself a lot of time by not venturing there. And obviously you don't need it to spread the word about your books :)

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  2. Great list of things to do, and I'll be checking into some of them I'm not to active on.

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    1. I know it's a lot, but if you set up a schedule, you can make it manageable . . .Almost. :-)

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    2. Me too, Miranda! Like Shelfari. I've heard about it but never ventured there.

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  3. Thank you for sharing! I love how writers help one another with advice like this. It's great to be able to go back and share what we learn on our own journey with others. :) Christy

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    1. It was other writers who helped me along. I hope I can pay it forward a bit.

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    2. Christy, I absolutely agree about writers helping writers. Just about everything I know is from kind writers who've gone before us.

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  4. Great list Lee! I definitely see some things I need to know more about! :)

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    1. Me, too, Jemi. I'm a slacker in some of those areas.

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    2. You and me both, Jemi! Just the other day I learned about Google Play. I thought, heck, something else I didn't know about!!

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  5. Lee, loved this. Saving it in a folder. Will share on facebook and twitter. *waves*

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    1. Robyn, thanks so much for sharing!

      By the way, my sister's name is Robyn, also spelled with a Y. Definitely not as common as the I :)

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    2. Really glad it was helpful. Thanks for saying that.

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  6. Useful and helpful tips. I've tried most of these and they help. Tweeting.

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    1. Thanks, Joy! It's nice to have all this up and running before a release, for sure.

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  7. Fabulous list of ideas here. I have been dragging my feet on some of them because to do it right is time consuming, but this is good reference for getting started.

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    1. Hart, you and me both. It's tough to keep up with it all, isn't it?

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    2. I understand. Make a list and go down that. Do what makes sense to you.

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  8. These are all great things to keep in mind! Some things I remembered to do... others I'm still learning. Great list!

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    1. Shelley, there is SO much to keep track of, right? But we're up to the task :)

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    2. I guess the best thing to remember is to choose what works for you. Otherwise, you'll go crazy!

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  9. Great advice from Lee. I noted down two things she reminded me I want to check out.

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    1. Susan, she also reminded me of some things I haven't done yet. Thanks for the visit!

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    2. I reminded myself of some. So as soon as I have some time, guess I'd better get going. :-)

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  10. What wonderful advice. I remember when I first started my blog- I had music. :) I also love the idea of a short web address! This list is an excellent reference for new writers and writers who might be missing something- like me! I have never looked into Shelfari- but I added it to my list of things to check out. :) Thanks, Lee and best of luck!
    ~Jess

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    1. DMS, I've heard music on other blogs before, but I never thought about the consequences of reading blogs in a public place where music wouldn't be appreciated. Word verification drives me crazy, so I'm glad she mentioned that.

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    2. What I didn't include is the Twee! Make it the same. How frustrating to try and Tweet and the @tweet matches nothing you know. Arrg! :-)

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  11. I love reading lists like these in the hopes one day I'll need it! =) Great tips to file away, thanks!

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    1. Leandra, you WILL need it for WHEN you're published :)

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    2. You will. Keep it filed away. No. Do it now!

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  12. Some great tips here, I'll have to save them for future use!!

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    1. Traci, I'm glad it was helpful. Thanks for the visit!

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    2. Fantastic. Just keep in mind that these are good for today. In a few years, things will be different. Great to read your comment.

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  13. This is the Holy Grail/Rosetta Stone of posts. Thanks billions!

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    1. Wait until put down my chisel, then I'll give you a hug. :-)

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    2. I know, right? Lee is awesome.

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  14. Thanks for the advice! Very thorough.

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    1. It helped me to make the list. Now at least I have something to refer to.

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    2. Theresa, Lee reminded me of several things I have yet to do! Thanks for the visit :)

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  15. Great list of suggestions. Thanks for sharing them.

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    1. Thanks for coming by to say hi while I'm visiting.

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    2. Susanne, thank YOU for the visit!

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