Updated: Oct 7, 2020
Maybe you've just sold your first book to a publisher. Or perhaps you've decided to take that next step as an indie author and self-publish for the first time. First thing's first. . . congratulations! But what happens next?
As a debut author there are some things you need to do to set yourself up for a career in writing, and to help you sell your first book.
In a previous post I talked about some of the key things I learned in my debut year. In this post I'll go through my debut author checklist, and help you out with 7 key things that you should get set up before your debut!
1. Set up your Website!
As an author you should have a website.
Your website is a place where someone curious can visit and find all the info they need about you and your books. In your website you can include all your buy links, your bio, your book info, how to contact you, and any other relevant info / news.
There are a number of free platforms you can use to create your website. Wordpress offers the most flexibility, but has a steeper learning curve. I use Wix which is really easy to use. I’d recommend paying a bit more to get your own domain name which looks more professional.
This blog is on my Wix website so feel free to look around!
2. Set up your Amazon Author Page!
Head over to Author Central and set up your Amazon author page.
Add a bio, picture, and link your book(s) to the page! This is useful to do because it’s a place for readers to easily find all your info and all the books you have available. Plus it will show your picture and bio beneath the book on Amazon.
If you’re published in the US and UK you’ll have to go through the process twice – one for Amazon US and one for UK. If you’re trad published you might need to provide an email address of your publisher for them to verify. Other than that, it’s pretty simple to do.
3. Set up your Goodreads Page!
Disclaimer, I HATE Goodreads, and as a debut author I'd recommend not obsessively checking reviews!
But it’s still useful for you and your book to be on there because a lot of readers find their next read by being on the platform.
If you have a publisher, they will most likely add your book to the website. If you’re self-publishing you can add your book to the database if your account is over 7 days old, or you can contact a librarian to add it. Info on how to do that here.
In both instances once you’ve set up an account, you need to claim your book. There’s some info on how to do that here.
4. Start a Mailing list!
It’s useful as an author to start building a mailing list. Having a mailing list means you can send interesting information, sales, buy links, news etc. to your most invested readers, direct to their inboxes.
I use Mailchimp. It’s free if you have below 2,000 subscribers.
I tend to send out a monthly email, then send out additional emails when I have exciting news.
To incentivise people to subscribe I tend to add a freebie to my sign-up. At the moment, if someone subscribes to my reading list, they get sent a couple of free lock-screens for their phone. You can check out my landing page here.
5. Set up your Pre-Order campaign!
In the world of traditional publishing, book pre-orders are important. They show your publisher that there is demand for a book before its launch which can lead to them printing more copies, putting more marketing behind the book, and selling more books to bookstores.
Because of this a lot of authors like to run pre-order campaigns to incentivize pre-orders. Some authors will send out signed bookmarks, and other swag, if someone pre-orders the book. There are also some digital goodies you can send out for free if you don’t want to spend money.
6. Set up your Social media: banners and bio!
Head over to Canva and create yourself a banner that advertises your book for your Twitter and Facebook pages. There are templates already set up. If you need a 3D book cover mockup of your book to add to the banner you can create one for free here.
Make sure you update your bios to include your published book with info about when it is coming out. Add a link for people to buy your book somewhere in your bio.
Basically, make it easy for people to know what you’re selling, when it comes out, and how to buy it!
7. Promote on Social media: Get people excited about your book!
Promote your book! The general rule in sales is that someone has to see something 7 times before they’ll consider buying it. So one tweet or post on launch day isn’t going to cut it.
You don’t want to spam people, but there’s a whole load of ways you can get people excited about your release. You can share quote art, character aesthetics, countdowns, polls, join Twitter conversations, share reviews, post unboxing videos, upload pics of you and your book, etc.
Be present on social media and make sure the people following you know that you have a book coming out.
Are there any other things you would recommend debut authors do before their book launch? Let me know in the comments!
LAUREN PALPHREYMAN is a writer based in London. She is best known for her supernatural teen romance series, Cupid's Match, which has accumulated over 50 million hits online and was published by Wattpad Books / Penguin Random House, October 2019. Her next book, Devils Inc. comes out in November. Find her on Instagram @LaurenPalphreyman and on Twitter @LEPalphreyman.
Get hold of her debut, Cupid's Match, here!