BEFORE THE D-DAY
Make your book’s Kindle version available for pre-order on Kindle Direct Publishing platform (KDP). The KDP platform allows you to make your book available for pre-order three months before the release date, all you need is a cover, book title and a blurb. I know it is hard to decide on a definite release date for your book, but it is important. Not because you could start market your book before the release, but it will allow you to redirect people to the book’s first landing page. You could refer to that page, when you are speaking about your upcoming book to your friends or strangers.
People will find your book based on the title. When selecting a title, always choose a unique one, with less than four words so it is easy for people to remember. The subtitle can be longer, and it may contain topic keywords, especially if it is a non-fiction book.
The blurb, or short description of your book, should be catchy. Perhaps ask a friend for help and list out some words about your book to them, then ask him or her, what is the one detail, he or she remembered most clearly. People often find less important details more interesting than the thrilling parts of your book you might assume they would remember. Sometimes it could be a date, a setting, or an uncommon word, but a simple easy to remember detail will be it in most cases. As the writer who created the plot, it is often very hard to pick up on these words, this is why a friend or a professional beta reader can be extremely useful.
Pricing of your book is important. Remember, the bestselling Kindle books have a price under $5, but you want to receive 70% of the royalties and be enrolled in KDP select. This requires your book to be priced at $2.99 or more. The ideal initial price of your Kindle book should be between $2.99-$4.99, that is if you are between 100-300 pages in length. If your book is over 300 pages you should consider a higher price, or breaking it up into a series of smaller books.
You need to claim your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest page names. Since these names are unique it could easily be the case that they are already taken. From this point of view, you have a branding problem. You need to establish an easily found and unique brand, which could originate from:
- your author name
- your book’s title
- series name
No matter which one you choose, you should keep it short and use it consistently. “Short” here means no more than three small and easy to remember words and “consistent usage” means it must be the same on each platform. I would recommend you start with an available .com domain name (you can check it’s availability at Godaddy), then check the word on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
What do you want to avoid when selecting a brand name?
Avoid using _ (underline), instead write the words together.
If you really want to separate them, you may use – (hyphen), but only once, two hyphens in a brand name is overwhelming.
Avoid using more than one number in any title
Once your find the right name, claim it on every platform, even if you don’t plan to use it! In the following years it may come in handy!
People often underestimate the value of web presence, that is to say, increasing your chances of being found on the web. No, it doesn’t happen randomly when you set up a website, you need to put in the work to help search engines find it. Every person who is searching for terms like those that are included in your book or its title will then have a higher chance of finding your book. They may not know a damn thing about your book, but he or she has a clear picture of what they want to read and now your book is in front of them and seems to meet that criteria! This is where keywords come in. Whether you like it or not, your job is to list those keywords in a human and readable context, not just list them out in a long string.
The blurb of your Amazon book is more like a catchy collection of sentences, kind of like a brochure or one page website. It achieves the following:
- Allows search engines (Google) to find your website
- Prompts engines (Google) to put your website in a higher position in their search results
- Redirects visitors to your book’s Amazon page (Sales page)
The hardest task is definitely the second. It is called SEO. You can spend hundreds of dollars on buying SEO services in order to gain your website some authority, and possibly climb up a few positions in search results. But since this book isn’t specifically about SEO, I just want to give you a few hints about where to start. Below are several SEO communities that you can join to learn more, and such forums are essentially the big brothers of SEO:
- Warrior Forum
- Black Hat World
- Wicked Fire
- Digital Point
- Reddit (SEO section)
Now back to the website, what you need to set up one in a day:
- Domain name (Godaddy, Namecheap) choose a .com domain
- Hosting partner (Hostgator, Webhostinghub)
- Blog engine (WordPress)
- Theme (skin) for your blog (Jupiter, Elegant Themes, Jevelin)
A basic custom website costs between $300-500 (including developer work, first year domain fees, hosting, and a theme). It is a fairly high investment for a single self-published book and this is why I usually recommend starting with a basic author website, and listing all of your books there.
With this marketing option you’re shooting for long term marketing, it probably won’t make any significant change in book sales in the first year (don’t forget even with successful SEO, it can take years to find that search engine traffic).
So why is it worth? In three to five years time you may get that all important free search engine traffic that you deserve.
If you aren’t a web developer I recommend you hire somebody to set up the whole website. It usually takes some time, often up to 30 days to finalize it.
There are almost always free alternatives of creating a website manually, like Wix or Duda.co, which could work, but you would be dependent on a platform and you would never have full control of design or content.
Upload your final, edited manuscript and the paperback cover to KDP. At this point your book should be ready to print. It takes approximately 1 day for Amazon KDP staff to review your cover and interior, then another 5-14 days to print and send a physical copy to you. Don’t release it to the public, KDP has an option to order review copies before the release.
At this point just upload it and start the review process. No spelling or editing errors should be in the PDF file at this point (though you will most likely find some anyway, no matter how sure you are!).
This will be the pre-launch edition of your book, which shouldn’t be shown to anyone. Don’t use this version as an ARC copy, only use it to help you in “debugging” your final manuscript.
Order one physical copy of your book. In the meantime, you should turn the error finding mode on. Trust me, your book will never be perfect, but the more errors and mistakes you correct, the most likely your book will be to stand out from the crowd.
Once you received the physical copy, you could fix formatting errors, such as “that line spacing is too much” or “that title should be bigger” etc.
Close the first edition, save your edited word file into “print ready PDF” and upload it to KDP. This new version will be available the next day. This could be the first ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) of your book. If you have a different cover for your ARC don’t forget to upload it along with the final PDF.
THE FIRST TWO WEEKS DAY 1-14
This is the very first day of your book and your first day as a published author. Enjoy the day! I would personally recommend avoiding any work at all on this day, you deserve a rest after months of hard work putting the book together.
But on the other hand, I’m also a professional, so I would stay on top of certain things important points that should be done on the first day.
Your book is a newborn. The publication date will be important later on, since you could stick with this date to launch anniversary promotions. So, let’s run through a few important things you can do now:
First off, order five copies of your physical book. Keep one copy for yourself and gave the others to your friends and family (don’t forget to sign them!).
Take a photo of your new book with your mobile (it shouldn’t be a professional one). It is a little bit tricky since you ordered five copies seconds ago, and even Amazon delivery is fast not as fast to deliver it within 2 hours. But don’t forget you ordered a review copy for error correction. This is why it was important to finalize the cover of your book months ago, before the actual release, so now you can feel confident taking photos of it!
Hold it in your hand and ask a friend to shoot some clear pics (high quality is really important). If you are too shy, you can also put the book on a nice table (either modern or vintage) with some fancy stuff and good lighting. Something to remember is that the book cover should be in the center and more or less directly in front of the camera. Avoid direct sunshine, or dark places.
Save photos in your “Marketing” library, keep them in order, since there will be a lot of marketing materials later on.
Upload to your already existing Instagram account. And how should you format your post? Let’s see:
- Use primary genre hashtags like “sciencefiction”, “businessbooks”, “romancebooks” etc. (you can check these hashtags by writing them into the Instagram search field) use them at the beginning of the post and limit to 2-3 maximum
- Write 2 lines about your story, like “An 80 year old soldier discovers a secret about his life, in a place where he didn’t expect it at all”
- Write where the book is available like “Available now on Amazon”
- Now put all of the other keywords you found at the end of the post, at least 5-10 of them, the more specific you are the more likely the crowd will come across your book, so keywords like “butterflystories” are good, which has 2,000-10,000 posts
- Don’t forget to mention people on Instagram with @ if somebody contributed to your book, or you simply want to say “Thank You!”
Keywording on social media is an art, but as you can see there are some simple rules. Another thing to focus your attention on is that I didn’t mention Facebook. Don’t post your book to any of your pre-existing Facebook pages on the first day.
Also, don’t use a filter on IG! Keep the photo natural, but if you want to pump it up, go to photoshop and use a simple auto correction option like “Image / Auto tone” or, my favorite; “Image / Adjustments / Match Color”. There are several good applications on Android and iPhone which could also be used to make some professional adjustments like Afterlight, Aviary, or Snapseed, but again keep the natural feeling of the photo.
You want to post this to a new author IG account, or even a separate account dedicated to only that book, especially if it will be a series.
If you have a personal profile on IG you can also post your book there – just forget about keywording and write an honest personal message to your friends. Also, don’t forget to tell them where the book is available. Several authors forget to tell their friends where their work can be bought. Be straight with them, friends will be your primary fan club and they will probably be interested in buying your book if you show them where to do it!
In the case of IG you shouldn’t put any links to your book in your post, don’t even try it. People can’t easily copy/paste from IG, so if you just write “The book is available on Amazon.com” it will be enough. Putting any links to the post will just mess it up. Instagram stopped linking sites several years ago.
So what else can you do? Put a link into your profile, every IG page has a profile link at the top. If you have more than one website, use services like Linktree. Always use direct links to your book’s Amazon page. Most people will prefer paperback version of your book so use that link on the first place.