Now I've said this before but it bears repeating. Contrary to what anyone who follows me on Facebook or Twitter may think, I'm actually quite shy in person. I discovered a love for social networking sites because it makes it easier to be me. It just so happens that people also seem to like the real me, which is such a beautiful thing. My book is not finished yet, I'd say it's maybe 70-75% of the way there. My husband asks me how far I am and I don't know how to answer him because to be honest, I haven't made a whole lot of progress in the past couple of weeks. In part it is because my muse decided to run off with my strawberry rum and Sprite, but also in part because I've been working to build connections in the writing world.
I am by no means an expert on making myself known and I won't really know how well I've done until my book is finally released into the wild. My goal is to sell 20 books in the first few weeks. It's a very small goal and I think I can make it but who really knows? The point is making these connections and putting myself out there has been a blast. Since a very kind person helped me with the kickstart I needed, I wanted to do the same to anyone else who is writing their book and wondering what to do next.
Before your book is finished, you need to do a few things. First decide what name you plan to use. In my case, my real name is very hard to spell and pronounce so I knew I had to use a pen name to have any hope of readers finding me. Some of the authors I've met use their real names, some choose pen names similar to their real name, and others choose a name they just happen to like. Whatever you do, choose a name you like and then make sure it is not tied to anyone too famous or who is already published. A name I had liked originally was tied to someone who had just sold a screenplay so there were a good number of articles about it. I was afraid of my content being lost amongst hers so I thought of a different one. Plus can a name like Avalon be much more perfect for a paranormal romance writer? ;)
When you know what name you want to use, start creating accounts. You'll want email, a blog, and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Try to have accounts that are easily recognizable. I hit the jackpot with Lindsay Avalon because I was able to create accounts for all of the different sites using my name. Want to find me on Facebook, Blogger, Twitter, etc? Just look for Lindsay Avalon and chances are you'll find me :) I also recommend having separate accounts from any personal ones you may have. It just makes life easier.
Consider having a website. For now I use Google Sites and while it's not ideal, it serves my purpose well enough until I have the time to custom build and host something of my own. Google Sites are free and you can set your own domain name. If you go the website route, I highly recommend purchasing a domain name. Mine cost me $20 for 2 years and now people can find me pretty easily. If you guessed my domain was LindsayAvalon.com then we have a winner! Once again you want an easily recognizable domain for better chances of your site showing up in search results. In all honesty, if you want to hold off on an official site you're probably ok in doing so. I post on my blog more than the site and it appears just as easily in the search results. When I hopefully publish many more books, my site will come in handy and allow me to present that content much easier.
So you've created all your accounts you have everything set up, what now? Start posting! Start interacting with people! Don't just start bombarding everyone with "Hey I have a book coming out!!!" I started by following my favorite big name authors as well as my favorite indie authors. Chances are far higher the indie authors will follow back. Be sure you've read some because not only are there a ton of indie authors out there, it's is a great ice breaker to be able to tell one how much you love their books. Be social, have fun, chat with people. Talk about your interests, respond to others' tweets, and don't be afraid to ask questions.
It isn't easy and it definitely takes work. I got lucky in meeting a few fantastic ladies who introduced me to others and it kind of cascaded down. As people get to know you more, start talking more about your particular book. Know how Twitter and Facebook postings work in terms of visibility. Above all else, be courteous to others. If you see people posting promotional stuff, repost it or retweet it. it's a nice thing to do and they're more likely to reciprocate.
The single most important thing to remember is this. Writing a book will NOT make you rich quick. I have been told, and have read this other places, that it can take 3 books to really get yourself known out there. One of the best pieces of advice I received was to have a book I could make free forever. I know I'm far more likely to read a free book than one I have to pay because who doesn't love free? Hopefully your readers like your book and want to read more so they'll buy the rest. But write because you love it and have a story to tell, not because you want to make money.
Are you overwhelmed yet? I know I can be. I spend hours some nights trying to build connections and talk to people. It's fun but it's hard sometimes and I haven't even gotten to the part where I do this to promote my actual book. If you don't want to put forth the work and want an easy solution, I'm sorry there isn't one. Indie publishing is a fantastic thing but it is hard just like everything else in life that is worth having. In the end I believe it will be completely worth it if even one person reads my book and loves it.
Hopefully this can help someone to not feel so lost in the whole process. I can't speak to what comes next because I'm still on this journey myself. I do know so far this is paying off in ways I never expected. I have met wonderful people, already learned to improve my writing, and I have affirmation this is what I'm meant to do. It may never make me rich but it sure as hell makes me happy!