Congratulations! You’ve published your book—now what? You worked very hard to get here—sitting on your own, writing, rewriting, and submitting for publication—surviving rejection and persisting. It’s time to buckle up again though, because post-publication may be bumpy, even overwhelming at times. Here are five tips to help smooth your way. Take a deep breath. Exhale. Scroll through DIY MFA for information and inspiration—both are here to be found!
1) Savor the moment
First, enjoy your accomplishment. You’ve worked hard for a long time, and you’ve succeeded. Not everyone persists and succeeds, but you did! Tell everyone and enjoy a party—you’ve been writing for a while, alone, so break out a little. Take the time to truly savor your accomplishment.
2) Mind the gap!
Mind the gap between what you expect and what you experience. If this is your first publication, you’re in a new world (and if this is not, you’ll know the drill, but it’s good to be reminded). The serious subject of sales will quickly overshadow publication joy—it’s a fact of your new life—but you can help promote your sales by working through steps 3 and 4.
Friends and family will be congratulatory and really pleased for you…except the ones that seem, well, jealous, and either ignore your feat or say weird things about it. It really isn’t you, don’t worry, but don’t be surprised if you hear things like, “You know I’ve written a book, too,” or “Maybe I’ll write a novel,” instead of a simple, “Good for you!” I never thought post-publication would hold social terrors, but once news of my publication spread, a few acquaintances and friends were at best tone deaf and at worst downright weird toward me. Most have been supportive and even excited for me, but here’s an exchange that illustrates one type of weirdness encountered:
She: I just bought your book!
Me: Thank you! Enjoy it!
She (at the top of her lungs at a party): So-and-so told me it’s hard to get into, but once you get past the beginning, it’s good.
Chalk it up to whatever and appreciate your new understanding of these people—it’s information. You’ll be able to tell who has actually read your book and appreciated it versus those who did neither, whatever they say. Better to accept the fact that not everyone will enjoy what you wrote—after all, you don’t read every genre and haven’t liked every book you’ve ever read either. The people who tell you they loved your book with feeling and detail will make you unimaginably happy.
3) Hit social media hard
With fanfare, post the steps of your publication on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, your blog, and website. Use all of your online social media platforms, but don’t neglect your local newspaper or your book club, library and writers’ groups.
Post the photo of the cover art, your author’s photo and the release dates for each version: paperback, hardback, Kindle/device, and audio. When the book is released—online or in brick stores—post photos of book signings, the bookstore window, the blurb on Amazon. Keep hitting your social media hard. Ask your readers to post reviews and ratings on Amazon and Goodreads—give them a chance to read it, but don’t be shy—keep asking.
4) Dig in, dig deeper
Unless you scored a traditional publishing house with deep pockets, you’ll be responsible for the book’s promotion—that’s certainly true of indie/hybrid and self-publishing. If you are lucky enough to have an agent, the agency will help promote the book, but in the modern world, you’re responsible for your own promotion at least to some degree.
If you don’t have an agent, start pitching again to agents with your book already reviewed and selling. By this time, you know how to choose agents with whom you have the best chance of a successful submission, but for a quick reminder, see this article, Query Tracker, Guide to Literary Agents 2019, Writer’s Market 2019, and other sources. Remember that reputable agents will never ask for upfront fees. If you are thinking about exploring book marketing consultants or book marketing courses, both can be expensive, so only consider those endorsed and offered by reputable organizations like Writer’s Digest and diyMFA.
Meanwhile, if your book is available on Amazon, set up the “Follow the Author” page and the author page on Goodreads, and those on the online writers’ and readers’ groups to which you belong. Follow the prompts given such as “ask the author a question,” etc.—refresh and add to those sections regularly.
Contact the book reviewer for your local newspaper and suggest an interview and review of your book. If your publisher does not supply review copies, buy them yourself and send to appropriate journalists, bookstore owners, and writers for review magazines.
Do your homework—if you belong to a genre organization (and you should belong to as many as possible), check out their review system and submit your book for a published review. Plan to attend book fairs and writers’ conferences with copies of your book to sell— hit the road. The conferences also will provide the opportunity to pitch to agents in person and network with other writers—all worth the expense of the fee and travel because the exposure is priceless.
Think about the living writers whose work you admire the most. Send each a copy of your book (via their agent or publisher) with a note of praise for their work and thanks for their inspiration. All writers are busy, but all writers read, and it’s a worth a try. Imagine a writer you admire liking your book and telling her friends—at the very least it will provide an opportunity—a conversational gambit—to connect with them at conferences and book signings.
Go back to your roots: sit down and start a new book, write blog posts, or short pieces for publication. Remind yourself that you wanted to write, that you are a writer—so write! Work on tips 3-4, think creatively about how to help sales, then sit down and write something new. Writing will help you thrive while promoting your book, and will build your craft, your reputation, and your oeuvre. You are a writer first and foremost, that’s clear—enjoy yourself and write. Do it for your readers, the ones who loved your book and miss the world you created for them—they’ll love you for it.
Constance Emmett’s debut historical/LGBT+novel, Heroine Of Her Own Life, published by Next Chapter, begins shipping at the end of August. She writes in an aerie-like office in the beautiful foothills of the Massachusetts Berkshires. Her non-fiction is posted on her blog, or connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.