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7 Things Every First-time Author Should Know

Updated: Aug 1, 2023

Becoming a first-time author can be an exciting yet overwhelming experience. While there’s not an official rulebook to a successful book release, there are some things to remember when preparing for your launch that can increase your likelihood of success and help you enjoy the process. In this post, I’ll share seven things every first-time author should know so you can rock your book launch.

7 things every first-time author should know

Here’s a list of things every first-time author should know that you can consider when preparing for your book launch:

1. Start preparing for your book launch early

Regardless of when you’re launching your book, there are some steps you can take to increase your chance of it being a success. One strategy I encourage new authors to use as soon as possible is an email list. An email list is a collection of email addresses that you gather from individuals you know or who interact with you online. When someone adds their email address to your mailing list, they permit you to contact them by email‌. Authors can take advantage of this tool by sending marketing materials, like book updates, offers, and event information, to multiple recipients at once. Having this list is extremely helpful, especially if you plan to release other books in the future.

You can also begin building your readership using various social media platforms. For example, you might grow your following on Instagram or TikTok by sharing content that interests your future readers. Many new authors find success from starting a blog and developing a following. Regardless of where you choose to build with your audience, interacting with them consistently and sharing content they care about is crucial.

2. Set the right expectations

Setting the right expectations for your book launch ensures you don’t lose confidence if your book doesn’t sell as well as you hoped. Over the years, I’ve observed that 1-2% of an author’s audience is likely to pre-order the book. Another 5-10% of the audience is likely to order the book within the first month it’s on sale. So what about the other 90+% of your following?

There are several reasons that are out of your control that may cause a friend or fan to not purchase your book as soon as it goes on sale. As an avid reader myself, I may not buy an author’s book immediately, even if I’m a huge fan of their work. I often have other books in my reading queue I plan to get to first before adding a new book to my library.

It’s crucial to stay positive and continue cultivating your relationship with potential readers over time, so when they’re ready to buy, they remember your book. Setting realistic expectations can help you remain confident that your hard work will pay off over time and you can see steady success throughout the entire life-cycle of your book.

3. Your book isn’t for everyone–and that’s okay!

Not every reader will want to buy or read your book, and reminding yourself of this can keep you from becoming discouraged. When a person doesn’t want to purchase your book, it doesn’t mean it’s a failure. Instead, it simply means that they aren’t your book’s specific audience. For example, if you write a book targeted at mothers, it’s unlikely that many readers outside of this demographic will want to purchase your book. Consider how you gravitate towards certain genres or topics and rarely read others. The same concept applies to those choosing whether they want to read your book.

4. Identifying your target audience and honing your messaging is crucial

The good news is your book is for someone, and that’s your target audience. When writing your book and preparing for your launch, consider who you’re trying to reach and be specific. For example, your target audience might be female entrepreneurs in their 20s. While you might think that narrowing your target audience excludes many potential readers, it actually increases the likelihood of connecting with the specific audience you’re aiming to reach. Your target audience includes the individuals who are most likely to purchase your book, so it’s crucial that you hone your messaging. Consider what matters to this audience, how to best connect with them, and where you can easily reach them.

5. Network with other authors in your genre

Engaging with other authors in your genre is often mutually beneficial because you can help promote each other’s work to an audience who’s likely interested in the subject and likely to purchase your book. To develop an author-author relationship, you can interact with them consistently on social media. For example, you might comment on their posts or send them a message if they seem willing to connect. You can also support other authors by listening to their podcasts and joining their email lists.

This year, I attended the London Book Fair, where I learned the following message: An author’s competition is not another author, but it’s any activity that isn’t reading. You want to keep your target reader reading books instead of performing other activities, like watching TV shows. You can achieve this by recommending other authors’ books to your readers. This step increases the likelihood of these authors returning the favor when you release your book.

6. Put yourself out there and hustle

If you want to sell books, you need to put yourself out there and hustle. A book doesn’t sell itself. It requires sales work, time, and effort. It’s really up to you to get your book and its message to your readers. Establishing this expectation from the beginning can help you plan your time accordingly.

It’s also essential that you discover ways to make your target audience aware of your book. You can achieve this by finding out where they spend their time online. If your target audience is on social media, identify which platforms and then do what you need to do to get your book in front of the target readers there. For example, if you write a book with strategies for becoming an influencer, you might connect with people with large social media followings and see if they’re willing to share your book.

7. It’s a marathon, not a sprint

Here’s a reminder that once your book is out, it’s out forever. While you’re going to need to plan effective strategies for the release month, it’s also important to promote it for the months and years that follow. I advise authors not to rush to get it all done right at the beginning. Instead, I recommend you take some time to devise a comprehensive marketing plan for the months leading up to your book’s launch, but also for the year that follows. This step can help you realize what strategies will come at various points of the launch timeline and how to best allocate your resources. Being prepared and having a plan can help you run the marathon and not become overwhelmed during your book’s release.

Closing thoughts

As a professional book marketer, I’ve worked closely with over 100 authors to help them have successful book launches. While I’ve seen varying degrees of success, I consistently notice that authors who are willing to work hard and dedicate time to their releases reap the greatest benefits. I want you to remember that success rarely happens overnight and often the successful authors we know and love didn’t find the success they hoped they would with their first few releases. Be patient and continue working hard, get yourself out there, and grow your audience with this first release. It can increase your chance of having a successful book down the line.

Whether you’re in the midst of the writing process or have already finished your book, now is the perfect time to consider a marketing strategy. To help you get started, I’m offering a FREE download of my guide, 10 Things You Need For A Successful Book Launch. This valuable resource is packed with expert tips and strategies to empower you to craft an effective book launch and connect with a larger audience of eager readers.

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