Congratulations, you’ve made it. You’ve uploaded your ebook and cover, entered a sales blurb and selected your product categories. You’ve decided on a price, agreed to the terms & conditions and finally, with no small amount of trepidation, pressed publish. Within a few hours an email arrived to confirm your book is live. You are now a published author. The next thing to do, of course, is let everybody know. So you spend a few hours promoting your launch on your social media of choice, phoning friends and family, sending emails and mentioning it to everybody you meet. This is great. Enjoy the moment. But then what? What should you do next? Well here are five things I recommend you don’t do.
Constantly check your sales stats
While the sensible advice is to write the book you want to read, in reality most of us write books we hope others will read. When you publish your first book the natural urge is to check your sales stats, an easy thing to do if you’ve published via Amazon KDP. Checking your sales once a day after launch is a perfectly healthy thing to do. Having the sales report fixed to your computer/smartphone on permanent refresh is not. If you do ignore my advice and continually refresh the sales report page you will learn that 1) not everybody who says they will buy your book, does buy your book and 2) most people don’t drop everything they’re doing and buy your book as soon as it becomes available. This is not a reflection of you, your book, or your relationship with others, but more to do with people living their lives and having priorities other than your book launch. Yes, your book is not as important to them as it is to you. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Over time people will remember to buy your book (especially if those who have read it tell them about it). There are many options open to you to try and stimulate your sales but ‘checking one last time to see if the numbers have gone up’ isn’t one of them. You will ignore this advice.
Compare your book’s performance to others
Another really tempting thing to do is compare the performance of your book to others. It could be a book published around the same time as your own, a novel from one of your favourite authors or somebody you know, or one in the same genre of yours that you read and hated. Whatever the reason, you will find yourself looking to their sales ranking almost as much as you look at your own. Don’t. It’s a pointless exercise. You have no control over how well their book is performing, so stop worrying about it. After the initial spike at launch, your sales will drop off. This is normal, but it happens at different rates and on different timescales for each book. Then there is the promotional activity the other author is doing, how big a platform they have, whether this is their first book – and not forgetting lady luck. Whether another book is selling at a better or faster rate than yours is of no consequence to you. Just focus on your book and the many things you can do to build an audience.
If you’re organised, you will have some reviews ready for launch (either through book reviewers or friends who have read the book prior to publication). After that the reviews will slow or stop altogether. This is a tough time for an author as a hundred questions run through your mind, fuelled by our familiar friend self-doubt. Are people reading your book? Have they stopped? Why have they stopped? Do they think it’s awful? Of course they do. I’m a terrible writer. Why did I bother publishing in the first place? The temptation here is to chase reviews. Try to resist. It takes time to read a book. Many people only read at night before bed, some not even that. You will be amazed how many people don’t read except on holiday. As long as you left a polite request for reviews at the end of your book (you did do that, didn’t you?) the reviews will come. By all means remind occasionally remind people but don’t pester. Plus, you shouldn’t really be looking at reviews anyway…
If you follow the advice of most indie authors they will tell you one of the biggest mistakes new authors make is to publish and assume people will buy the book. You need to promote, they say. You need to have a marketing plan, a promotional plan and you need to take every opportunity to mention your novel (here’s a link to mine by the way, Second Chance – it’s had loads of great reviews in the UK and some in the US too). I would argue that the biggest mistake is to stop writing. It is very rare for people to build a career from one book. Those more experienced authors (Hugh Howey, Sean Platt) argue that you should concentrate on your writing until you have published at least three books. That doesn’t mean launch and ignore, but your priority should be writing, not promotion.
And what should you be doing…?
Writing your next masterpiece! So, these are my top four but I’m sure you have others. What have I missed? I’d love to hear from you.