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Expert Advice for Writers Who Want to Publish

The days of badly edited, boring indie books are gone! #goodriddance

What does it take to get your book to high levels of success? How do you know what marketing activities to jump into, and what could just be draining your time and emptying your bank account? The book business keeps changing and astute writers know they have to change along with it if they are going to sell more than the average – which is somewhere between 40 and 200 books. 

I have had my work published traditionally in fiction and non-fiction, in magazines, and I worked for 15 years as an instructional designer and technical writer. I’ve seen publishing from several different angles, and have had varying measures of success that are a direct result of my own efforts. Whatever route you take you’ll need to get published you need become a master at marketing. Most authors love to write but many of them admit they cannot sell or don’t like marketing. If you want your book to be successful, my suggestion to you is to embrace marketing. If you do, you’ll get ahead of 90 percent of the writers out there. 

Today, you absolutely must create a platform. It doesn’t matter that James Patterson and Stephen King and got popular without the things we now say are a necessary part of a platform. They were traditionally published and able to leverage old fashioned book promotions, but even they are on board with the newer methods. They speak on stages (sometimes together), they teach master classes online (which is just a series of recorded presentations), and they keep themselves in the public eye by continuing to publish great books. 

Your platform has to include social media, and a website. Before you start building your online presence, you’ll need to invest some time in learning how these things work and if you’ve blown it, you won’t have impact and you could but you can still go back and fix things up. Learn how to use the platforms effectively, how to engage your followers, and try to ignore the trolls. If you can find creative ways that work for you to become a champion for others, you’ll avoid coming across as self serving, and have the added benefit of helping out a cause. This is another thing that doesn’t just feel good, but helps you get  ahead of the others. 

One final piece of advice (though I could go on for ages here), is to make sure you have a good book cover. (My cover for Border Pieces was designed by Let’s Get Booked.) You don’t have to spend a million dollars on it, and you can learn to do them yourself, but whatever you do make sure the cover is something that will help sell your book. Usually, this equates to spending some money on it whether you’re looking at paying for pictures, a font, or help with layout. I’ve been known to produce a book and then change covers later to stir up new demand, or to help tie a book into a series, and you can do that too. Just make sure the cover works for you so people will be encouraged to pick up the book and flip it open, whether it’s a paper or digital copy.  

What’s the best advice you’ve heard?