Wednesday, March 8, 2017

#WWoW Building an Author Platform @GingerMonette #MFRWauthor #marketing

Your manuscript is in the hands of your editor, and you've got the big release day circled on your calendar...
What now? Should you start advertising? Tweeting?

It's little early to alert the media, but there are a host of pre-launch “foundations” new authors need to put into place before they release their baby to the world. Let's get right to the checklist.

-Create a new email address to use exclusively for your writing/marketing correspondence. It will keep your emails from bloggers and fans separate from your emails from Aunt Eleanor and Old Navy. With all of your author emails in a separate mailbox, you can see at a glance any unopened correspondence and remind you of emails needing immediate attention.

I suggest using a form of your name or something that identifies your brand. For example, my author email name is SperoBooks. Keep it short, professional, and preferably something that has nothing odd like an underscore. Don't make the mistake of using the title of your book as your email name. It will be passe' when you publish your second book.

-Create a signature line and maybe a ‘one-liner’ that describes in a nutshell what type of romance you write (“Romance with a touch of mystery,” “Broken hearts finding love,” “Romance for the modern girl,” etc). Begin using it on all your emails so your friends, business associates, and writing contacts will know you're an author.

-Research web hosts and build a website. If you're not sure you want to make a long-term financial commitment, choose a free hosting service that has the option to upgrade later. I chose as their customer service is pretty good and their site building tools are mostly intuitive.

Before you start designing, look at other authors' websites and take advice from experts like Tim Grahl and Jane Friedman. Make a list of what you like, then make a plan.

-Research which social media platforms will best reach your target audience and start getting active there.

-Develop a bio—a short, middle length, and long one.

-Create an author page on Goodreads and post your bio and headshot there. (When your book goes live, add your bio to your Amazon author pages in ALL the countries where you will be selling.)

-Get a headshot. Add it to your website and to your Amazon and Goodreads author pages. Use it as part of the header of any newsletters as well. Readers are more likely to remember your name if they can attach a face to it.

-Decide if you want to make a video or audio trailer for your book. If so, start working on it. I have one here.

-Will you do a blog tour? If so, research blogs that could be a good fit. Don’t contact yet, just make a spreadsheet that includes blog address, contact email, number of followers, and a few sentences about why it made your list.

-Subscribe to book marketing experts like Nick Stephenson, Tim Grahl, and Chandler Bolt. Take notes from what you read/watch.

-Subscribe to Yahoo groups that focus on marketing for your genre. Two excellent Yahoo groups for romance authors are Marketing for Romance Writers and Indie Romance. (If you simply don't have the time to learn from the experts previously noted, the topics covered on these e-loops will give you an excellent education.)

-Make a list of potential people to be on your launch team who will be willing to leave a review of your book on launch day and share it on their social media. Friends and family are fine if that's all you have, but readers who love your genre are MUCH better.

-Start formulating a long-term (written) marketing plan: Who specifically is your audience? How will you reach them? Will you offer your book for pre-order? What pricing strategies/sales might work well? What book marketing services/promotors look like good fits? What’s your marketing budget? What are good places to advertise?

-Will you need a book cover? If so, what ideas do you have how it should look? Browse stock image sites to find appropriate images. If you are self-publishing, research designers, or choose a service like 99Designs,, Reedsy, or even if your budget is bare-bones.

-Will you offer some sort of freebie to entice people to sign up for your newsletter or pre-order your book? If so, create it now. For my novel written in an unfamiliar era (WW1), I offer access to an online scrapbook to those who subscribe to my newsletter. (If you have a look, give it a minute or two to load.) Other authors commonly offer a short story, additional chapters, or some other exclusive bonus.

-Will you offer some sort of give-away in conjunction with your book launch? If so, research items that are a good fit (i.e. a tin of Scottish shortbread if you write Scottish Romance)

-Search for images that you could use to create graphic teasers for your book. These sites have free public domain images: Pixabay, Pexels, Unsplash, and Wiki Commons. (Not all Wiki Commons images are licensed for commercial use, but they have oddball stuff you may not find anywhere else.)

-Compile a media kit to have all the necessary advertising elements in one place: Blurb, bio, excerpt, book info, images, etc. Mine is here.

-Choose quotes and excerpts from your book that would make good teasers. Maybe even play around with to learn how to make the teasers, Twitter banners, FB headers, etc. (All the graphics in my media kit were created at

Feeling overwhelmed?
It is a LOT of work, and most of these tasks take an ENORMOUS amount of time. If you have deep pockets, you can hire experts to do many of these tasks for you, but they will still require your input. So start early and give yourself plenty of time. I spent nearly three months just educating myself on current trends in book marketing. (Yeah, I believe in being thorough.) But when I launched my book with a 23-day blog tour, I was able to do it with confidence as I had my marketing foundation firmly in place.

How long did these tasks take you? Did I leave anything out?
I’d love to hear your comments.

Winner of Charlotte Mecklenburg Library's 2015 “Picture This” grand prize, Ginger currently writes romances set in the era of Downton Abbey and WW1. She lives with her family in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she enjoys dancing on the treadmill, watching period dramas, public speaking, and reading—a full-length novel every Sunday afternoon.

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