You’ve written a book and now you are ready to publish. But you soon find out that publishers want you to explain in detail how you are going to help sell your work, and you think, But isn’t that the publisher’s job?
For better or worse, nearly all publishers now want authors like you to approach them with a marketing plan that outlines how exactly you will reach your intended audience. And if you are a new author, or at least new to publishing books, you will wonder how on earth you can develop a following before you, well, have a following.
The secret lies in thinking like an entrepreneur, which is what you need to be in today’s publishing landscape. And the operative idea here is to build, even while you still are writing your long-form fiction or nonfiction, an author’s platform that will provide a would-be publisher evidence of your book’s marketability.
Harness Social Media
Start harnessing the power of your social media platforms to create an identity as a writer, which means you need profiles on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and others distinct from your “personal” ones. You need to present yourself as a writer, not as someone who has made writing a hobby.
Announce that You Are a Writer
Announce your writing projects: past, ongoing, and ones to come. Ask your friends and acquaintances to participate, comment, like, and whatever else will reinforce your authorial presence.
Create an Author Website
Authors often create separate websites for their author platforms. If you do, then make sure your social media accounts all point at this main site. Announce your projects on social media but provide details on your main site.
Use Short Writing to Boost Your Profile and Marketability
This is the master strategy for showing publishers (and agents, if you go that route) a track record of publication. For example, by publishing some short stories, you will
1. Build a fan base.
2. Beef up your query letter with concrete information about your prior publications.
3. Make at least some money if you submit to magazines or journals that pay for published stories. As an added benefit, though you won’t get rich publishing short fiction, anything you do make can go toward further funding your platform, including building a website or creating marketing materials.
Likewise, you could publish essays to help create a track record for the eventual publication of a nonfiction book. Often chapters of a book can be rewritten as standalone essays, as varied as excerpts from a memoir or brief, powerful advice from something in the self-help genre.
And by committing to producing (and publishing) short work, you will keep the writing gears well oiled. In fact, you may find that your next book grows organically out of a short, published piece.
Leverage your short writing to support your current or next book and you will be thinking like a writing entrepreneur.
JEFF KARON (PhD English) edits and proofreads poetry, creative nonfiction, biographies/memoirs, novels, short stories, articles, self-help books, business reports, proposals, dissertations, theses, and websites.