Your Online Presence & Marketing
1. A Professional Website
It’s never been easier to create a professional website. Having an online home as an author is an absolute must. Even if you haven’t published your first book yet, it’s a great idea to start building your site early. Also, unless you have a very good reason for it, I would not recommend choosing your domain name (the name of your site – for example bettinamelher.com) as your book or series title. Use your author name (whether that’s your real name or a pen name). Keep it simple and make it easy for people to find you.
Although there are many different options out there for creating your site (many of which are completely free), my advice is to have a self-hosted site and pay for your domain name and hosting. Read my post “My new website and why I’ve decided to move away from Wix” for more info. I use and recommend Bluehost. Not only are their plans competitively priced, but the one-click WordPress install just makes everything much easier. Also, their customer support is fantastic! Click here to check out the Bluehost options.
2. A Professional Author Email
When you purchase your own domain for your website there are different options for creating an email account with that name. For example, with my old website (when I was still using Wix) I paid an additional $5 a month for my domain mailbox account. Now, that I’m with Bluehost the mailbox is included in the plan. An email address like firstname.lastname@example.org is much more professional than something ending with Gmail or Hotmail. Am I right? Not only that but for number 3 (A Mailing List), you want your subscribers to receive emails from your professional author account.
3. A Mailing List
I use MailChimp. Not only is it free to use until you reach 2,000 subscribers, but MailChimp has recently enabled their automation feature for free accounts, too (previously the automation feature was only for paying customers). MailChimp can look a little confusing at first, but don’t worry. There are plenty of how-to-guides and YouTube tutorials out there to help you out.
4. Social Media Profiles
Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are probably the biggest ones at the moment. It’s a good idea to sign up for all social media platforms with your author name (or pen name) so that it’s ‘reserved’, even if you don’t use it regularly. Remember not to push your book on these platforms. Nobody likes to follow someone who constantly tweets or posts “Buy my book! Buy my book!”. Your social media profiles are for being social and connecting with your readers and other writers. If you post informative, useful, or entertaining content 90% of the time, then it’s perfectly fine to do a post or a tweet when you do have a new book out, or if you’re running a free or discounted promotion (10% of the time).
Writing and Publishing
This writing software is an absolute must. There is a reason (no, there are many reasons!) why so many authors swear by it. It really will change the way you plan, write, and publish your books. I wrote my very first novel using Microsoft Word and almost went crazy doing so. Once you use Scrivener, you’ll never go back to a normal writing software again. The best (and perhaps most surprising) thing about Scrivener is that’s it’s unbelievably inexpensive. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Not only do I use it for my fiction writing, but I’m actually writing this very blog post in Scrivener, too. Click here to learn more about Scrivener.
Grammarly does not replace a real professional editor, but it’s a great tool for writers. You can check your blog posts, emails, and yes, even your whole manuscript using Grammarly for a thorough self-edit. However, when it comes to publishing your book, you should always invest in a professional editor. Click here to find out more about Grammarly (you can create an account for free or purchase a premium plan).
7. A Professional Editor
Finding the right editor is a lot like dating. You have to date a few until you find ‘the right one’ you really want to be with. I believe that the saying, “you get what you pay for” applies here. A lot of editors will offer to do a sample edit for free or for a small fee. I strongly suggest you do that before sending and paying for a full manuscript to be edited. Also, be aware that there are different types of editing services (most common ones are: developmental edit, copy edit, and proofread). Don’t rush into this process. Take your time to find a few editors who you’d like to get in touch with. Get some sample edits done. It helps if you use the same sample of text so that you can compare the quality of work between each of the editors.
8. Book Cover Design
Unless you are talented and experienced at designing book covers yourself or know someone who is, it’s definitely worth investing in a professional book cover. I am lucky enough to have my husband who designs all of my covers for me. Your book cover is the first thing a potential reader will see, and its quality and impact on the reader will make the difference between them clicking on it to find out more, or scrolling right past it.
Your Author Life
Don’t go it alone. Being a writer is a solitary existence. That’s why it’s so important to connect with other writers and continue to learn from them. I, personally, am not one who would enjoy going to a writers group to chat about what we’re working on and critique each other’s work. But I absolutely love hearing from other authors. That’s where podcasts come in. For my post on why podcasts are so great click here. If listening to podcasts isn’t your thing, why not go on YouTube? There are plenty of authors who share their wisdom with the world. Alternatively, check out some blog posts and articles. There are also hundreds of Facebook groups you could join. See what works best for you and just give it a go. Just remember to look up from the keyboard once in a while and connect with others writers. 😉
10. Your Chair
Why? Because that’s the only time we actually do what we’re supposed to do. BUTT-IN-CHAIR-TIME! You can spend hours on the internet, reading, watching and listening to other authors talk about writing, but the most important thing above all is to actually do the writing yourself.
So, what are you waiting for? Go write something! 🙂