So, you’ve finally finished your manuscript. After all the writing, rewriting, revising, proofreading, researching and editing, you’ve completed your masterpiece. Congratulations. It is a feat in itself and you should absolutely be proud of yourself. If your book is coming out on any medium where it can be read, downloaded, listened to or soliloquized, regardless of the presence of a formal publisher or not, it is again something to be very proud of. You wrote a book. Well done, sir or madam, you are now an author. So the question is, what should you do now?
I know you may have already alloted most of your post release time to counting your money, receiving high fives from strangers and paying your kids minimum wage to refresh your Amazon page on the minute for when new reviews get posted, but this may not be the most productive plan of action. Then again, not occupying your time may lead to erratic behavior like anxious baking enough muffins to feed a men’s lacrosse team or riding a roller coaster of emotion that ends with your berating your cat for being lazy and watching too much daytime television. No one benefits when you end your night repeatedly yelling, “You said you were going to change!” at your overweight tabby.
So, what should you do when your book releases? Well, certainly you should try to promote the release, that is a must, but you should be very careful to not go overboard with your promotion and end up ramming the existence of your work down people’s throats. Nothing will turn them off quicker than a marketing strategy that comes off as a constant bombardment of ‘buy my book’ messages. Sure, you should blog about it, do interviews and tell everyone you know it can now be purchased, but be aware that you are treading a fine line. Over marketing is often mistaken for desperation, and this will not help your cause.
How can an author avoid this marketing faux paus? Well, don’t seek people out and push your book in the same sentence that you introduce yourself in. Forge some relationships before your book release and participate in any writing communities you stumble upon. Make sure that these relationships are genuine and not just ends to promote your own materials. You should be interested in the work of others. They are your peers. Form some meaningful relationships with them. These will be the people who will tell family, friends, book clubs and writing groups about your book if they enjoy what you have written.
You must be careful to make the important distinction of informing people about your book release and making them feel obligated to buy it. There is a difference. If you are really confident in your work, nothing displays more confidence than making the public aware of your book, then leaving the rest in the hands of your readers and their word of mouth marketing.
So, as much as fun as it would be to sit on your perceived laurels or stress about the critical reception of your novel, it will do you no good. The single most beneficial thing you can do is get working on the next book. If you want to pursue writing as a profession, it would be to your benefit to not Harper Lee your first book. Self published authors especially tend to find some commercial success when they get a couple of books in circulation. If your first book is destined for success, it will get there, but let it come. And before you know it, people will be asking about the sequel, and you’ll be ready, because you’ll already be writing the sequel, right? Oh, and remember to somewhere along the way enjoy the whole ride. You have a book out. Pretty cool.