I signed my book deal with Atria last fall. The manuscript is done but the book doesn’t come out until March 2016, giving me a little over a year to wait patiently for book to meet world. Except I’m not very good at waiting. I’m like a five-year-old or a German shepherd: I need a job to do if you don’t want the furniture destroyed. I was reminded last week while talking to a friend—a memoirist whose just-released book was on a much tighter schedule than mine—that having this kind of time is actually a huge blessing. I’m always telling clients and students that they should start as early as possible when it comes to their social media and marketing efforts. Ideally marketing should be a gradual, organic process, and that takes time.
I’m the social media and marketing director of GFP, this is when I put my money where my mouth is. As an author with a yearlong countdown ahead of her, here’s what’s on my to-do list now:
Read My Butt Off
I always try to read lots of fiction by contemporary authors. I love to shout out and connect with the ones I like on social media (little harder to do with, say, Jane Austen). This is lots of fun, but it’s also vital. If I want the author community to support me when my book comes out, I sure as hell better support it now. I’m also in the process of asking folks for blurbs, and you’d better believe I’m not sidling up to anyone and asking them to give my book an endorsement if I haven’t read (and loved) theirs.
Pro tip: If you’re a writer, reading should be a daily habit. No excuses. Reading books by authors with a similar audience will help you hone your own work and understand your reader better. Be generous with other authors; they’re your teammates, not your competition.
Work on My Next Book
It’s somewhat surreal to finally finish a book I’ve worked on intermittently for over a decade. On the one hand, I’m thrilled, but it’s also hard to let go. The good news is that there’s nothing like the distraction of a new love to help you move on from an old one. So I’m making it a point to get up early and work on my new novel for an hour a day before I go into the office, just as I would if I had a deadline looming.
Pro tip: Looking forward to the next book is one of the best things you can do for yourself once you’ve finished working on something. It will help you not to feel as though you have all your eggs in one proverbial basket. This isn’t the time to let the good habits you developed while writing the last book fall by the wayside. Once you’ve hooked readers with your first book, you want to keep them coming back for more!
I’ll go into more detail about this in a later post, but in short, I’m spending plenty of time on Twitter finding new authors and writers to follow and interact with, using the hell out of the #amreading hashtag, and looking for interesting bookish conversations to jump into. I’m also blogging every week (hi!) and working on an in-world Tumblr specifically for the book. And naturally, I’m logging and rating all the great books I’m reading on Goodreads.
Pro tip: Social media can become overwhelming and all-consuming pretty easily. Develop what feels like a doable strategy (blog once a week, Tweet every day, put together Pinterest boards for your characters, etc.) and set aside some time to do it. I block out two hours over the weekend to do my social media for the following week.
Get Face Time
I can’t emphasize this enough: the best way to set yourself up for success is to spend time with and support other writers and book folks. I’m lucky in that there is a significant crossover with my day job here. I went to the San Francisco Writers Conference a few weeks ago and have a half dozen other conferences and panels booked for the coming year. I also run a bimonthly publishing and author mixer with a bookseller friend of mine.
Pro tip: Even if you don’t have the access or resources to go to big conferences and events, you likely have a local bookstore where you can attend readings, shop, and chat with the staff. Social media is awesome, but nothing beats face-to-face for making a connection.