Are you prepared to transition from writer to author? It’s time to put on your author hat and create your business. And, like any business, you will market your products. In this case, your books.
Whether you are traditionally published or self-published your books will benefit from every step you take to establish and promote your author business.
The Business Mindset
Business mindset differs from your creative writing mindset. You’ll be learning about creating your author identity, marketing strategies, collecting and managing information (data) about your readers and sales, and other business details.
Learn from other businesses, including other authors. Set aside time in your schedule to focus on the business side of your author life. Be willing to start and willing to learn. Authors who embrace the business side create success. The basic principles of an author business mindset will get you started on your author business journey.
- Think of your author self as a business entity.
- Consider your books your products.
- Learn successful methods to market your books.
- Be willing to test and test again.
With a business mindset, you don’t give up creativity. Instead, you use it in a different way.
Create Your Marketing Platform
It’s never too early to start your author platform. You’ll want basic marketing materials with information about you and your books to share in as many ways as possible. When you start early you’ll give yourself time to create a solid professional message about you and your books.
Creating your author platform takes time. Don’t try to do it all at once. Take a methodical, step-by-step approach to get the details right.
Your marketing platform is essential to your author business. Whether you are traditionally published or self-published, you need that platform.
- Agents want to see your platform before they represent your book. Many agents will not accept a book unless you have a platform designed and in place. A good reason to start early.
- You will co-promote with a traditional publisher. The reason the agent wants to see your author platform is that publishers want to know you put energy into promoting your book(s).
- If you are self-publishing, you will spend time weekly if not daily promoting your work.
How to Start Your Author Platform
Your platform starts with basic material you use repeatedly to let people know about you as an author and each of your books.
The very act of setting these up gives you practice in dividing your time between writing and marketing. Balance your time so you can continue writing and promoting your current work.
You’ll need several book descriptions:
- A short one- or two-sentence grabber. Good for short mentions, ad copy, or to include in your author bio.
- A 50-word description. Good for author guest blogs, podcast interviews, radio and TV.
- A 150-300 word book description. The blurb. Goes on the back of your book cover, used by digital retailers like Amazon, Kobo, etc.
You’ll want several author bios.
- Short bio of 25-30 words. Post at end of articles or on social media that does not allow space for a long introduction, like Twitter.
- A 100-word bio. For publicity promotion for print, radio, TV, podcasts.
- A 300-word bio. Use on your author page at any digital distributors like Amazon. Also, for publicity promotion for longer print pieces or to give potential interviewers more to use.
You will probably rewrite these many times, but start with something now.
A Formal Portrait Image
You can do this yourself with a plain background or hire a professional photographer. You’ll want several versions. This image is your introduction to the public. Make sure it's clear and your face is visible. No sunglasses or floppy hats to obscure your face.
- Black and white: High and low resolution versions.
- Color: High and low resolution versions.
You can create an optional second image that is you at work or at home being yourself. Lounging on the sofa with a book, sitting on a wall. The same high and low resolution versions apply.
Book Cover Image
As soon as you can, get a book cover artist to create an image. You’ll use this as the ebook cover and the foundation image for your print book. Don’t wait until you finish your book. Start early.
Identify a cover designer who works with your genre or understands the importance of genre messaging and individual book graphics. Don’t skimp. Your book cover is a primary marketing tool. Get the best you can afford.
Use the cover image to create buzz on social media. Use it on your website and digital publishing platforms.
Mailing List Giveaway
Create a giveaway to entice readers to join your mailing list. When you are just starting out use something like a protagonist interview, a guide to your fictional world, or even a list of other books in your genre - "The 5 Best Cozy Mysteries of All Time," for example. You need something to offer. As your list of books grow, you can make this the first book in your series.
Your mailing list is precious, comprising people who want to hear from you. Give them something that relates to your book or series.
Claim your space on the Internet. This is the site you own. Your website is the central hub of your author platform. Think of it as your business home. Unlike author pages on digital retailers, your website belongs to you. If Amazon shut down tomorrow, you will still have your author website.
You can be as simple or elaborate as your budget allows. Think long-term so your website can grow as your author business grows.
You can use free website services like WordPress.com or Weebly to get started. If you have the time and resources, you can become more involved with a self-hosted website using Wordpress.org. You will need to monitor and update the self-hosted website or hire someone to manage the site for you. If you have a large budget, you can hire a website designer to create the site for you.
Pro Tip: Make sure you have access to add and change text. That’s non-negotiable. Some authors have hired website designers who want full control. Every time the author wants to add something like a new book or an updated bio, they have to pay the designer to add new material.
Basic pages for your website:
- An introduction to you as an author. Your bio and some words about why you are writing the book.
- A page just for the book(s). Give potential readers a taste of the book with the book description and a short excerpt. Once your book is published, you will add links to pages where readers can buy your book.
- A blog page. Most free and paid website services include a blog page. Update this with articles regularly, at least once a month if not more. The key is to be consistent. Show potential readers you care.
Your Author Mailing List
Your author gold. Connect with readers regularly. Start your email list as soon as you can. Choose an email provider. You can start with a free service like MailChimp. Later you can consider other options as your list grows.
- Create and set up your list.
- Add yourself to the list to verify that they deliver all your emails.
- Create a page (landing page) where readers can join your list. Most email providers include the landing page as part of the service. It’s up to you to create one that is welcoming.
- Entice readers to join the list with the giveaway you created.
- Create a set of about five welcoming auto-responder emails that go out. Deliver the giveaway with the first email.
Set Up Author Social Media Accounts
Your author social media accounts are separate from your personal social media. These accounts are targeted toward letting people know about you as an author and about your book(s).
Don’t spread yourself thin. Choose one or two social media channels and connect with readers. Once you have experience with your marketing platform, you can consider adding additional social media channels.
Your Author Entity and Banking
You want to establish yourself as a business entity. At the beginning, you may choose to do business under your name or set up a doing business as (DBA) status in your state. Use this as the legal entity for financial transactions about your author business. Later on you may set up a more sophisticated legal business entity such as a limited liability company or incorporation.
Set up a separate business banking account for your author business. Send all your royalty payments to that business account.
Keep Learning About the Business of Being an Author
Establish your business mindset to make the shift from writer to author as a business. Create one consistent message about your author self. Take the first steps. You’ll learn as you go. Keep current with publishing and marketing trends.
Before you publish anything, make certain you’ve written clear copy. Use ProWritingAid to perfect each word.