I Finished Writing My Book. Now What Do I Do?
People continually say, “I just finished writing my book. What should I do next?” I don’t get that. I don’t know how you react, but I generally go into Three Stooges mode. IMG-V
No, I don’t mean to be unkind, but what are people thinking? They dedicate their life to writing a book and have no advanced thought about how they are going to produce and sell it?
I find that incomprehensible. However, in this video I’m going to identify the problem in this “what do I do now?” error, and then offer 3 things writers can do to solve it.
I’d like to invite you to subscribe. Also, click on the bell icon so you don’t miss my latest videos. There’s more on this topic, including sources, at VelocityWriting.com. The link to the post is in the YouTube description.
The Problem of Magical Thinking
Everyone who writes a book thinks it will be a great success.
That’s not reality. According to statistics, average sales for a self-published book is 250 copies. That’s average. You know, half sell less, and half sell more, but the average is 250 over the life of a book.
The big traditional publishers expect to sell 2,500 copies to have a profitable book. No, not tens or hundreds of thousands of copies as many authors imagine. Big sales go to politicians and celebrities, or authors with a long track record of ever-increasing sales. These big names subsidize the other books in their list.
Aspiring writers must deal with the reality of the book publishing world. They need to think about who wants their book, and will buy it BEFORE they start writing.
Writers are always happy to point to exceptions, of course.
Every writer automatically thinks they will be the exception. But exceptions are one-in-ten-million shots, and that’s why they make the news. Thinking you are going to be the exception and will write a bestseller without a strategy is magical thinking. It’s not rooted in reality.
So, you don’t write a book based on unreal expectations. You want to write a book that people want to read. Not a book you want to read or a book that you think everyone will want to read.
You don’t want to be put in the terrible position of creating demand because it is difficult and expensive to do that. You want to discover what topics have a ready audience so you can tap into it.
Do Research Before You Write
If you want to break free of magical thinking, you need to do three types of research before you put your first word on a page.
I’ll explain each one now.
Know Your Market
First, as I often say, you want to determine if existing market for your book. Are people now looking for a book on the topic you want to write about? This applies to fiction and nonfiction.
How can you read the minds of prospective readers to learn what they’re seeking?
You do that by researching the sales of other books on your topic. Are there large number of people interested in it? You want to fish where there is a feeding frenzy, not in an empty pond. One of the best methods to find out is to use a tool called Publisher Rocket. No, this is not a paid promotion but I love this tool and have been using it for years. There is an affiliate link to their site below.
Publisher Rocket goes to Amazon and it shows all the books in the genre you are thinking about writing about.
The software shows top sellers in a particular genre. It shows how many copies have sold in a particular time period, and how much income they received.
You want to carefully examine all the top-selling books in your topic area and learn from them. You can quickly visit your competition and check out the cover and content.
Don’t worry about competition—competition is great. It proves people want to read the type of book you want to write. Once you know the buyers are out there, you can write with confidence. Your job is to learn from your competition and write a better book, and that’s how it’s done.
Find Your Tribe
After you have determined there is a market for the book you want to write, but you want to verify that you can reach your tribe—that’s the particular group of people who will buy your book.
How do you find your tribe?
It is unrealistic to think that “everyone” will be interested in your book. That’s magical thinking. That kind of thinking is the fast track to failure. People have very particular reading preferences. People who read gardening books look for new books on that topic, not books on World War 2 fighter aircraft.
What you want to do is identify your potential readers, find out where they hang out, and then reach them as cheaply as possible.
Many authors think Amazon will send them buyers. But most authors don’t know enough about the Amazon search algorithm, so that approach is useless to them. These authors often fall back on KDP Select and hope that giving away their book will increase sales.
I wish car dealerships had a plan to give away cars to get sales. But car dealerships know better. Remember, Amazon is not giving away their books. They have just enticed you to giving away your book, and building their site traffic, with KDP Select.
Some authors think they’ll get sales by buying Facebook ads. That’s a money pit because ads cost too much to get a decent ROI, return on Investment, to make money on competitively priced books. Yes, there is a strategy for making money with Facebook ads, but if you don’t know it, Facebook ads are nothing more a slot machine in a casino.
What works best? Seasoned writers know the best way to build a tribe is with an author website. Why? Because:
It is your home, and anyone can visit you anytime by computer, tablet, or smartphone. They are not visiting Facebook or some other place owned by others, they are coming directly to your home.
Your home, your rules. You can say almost anything you want any way you wish. More important than that, you can show hospitality to your visitors. Engage them on a personal basis. Share your life and work on your author website. After all, these are your people, your tribe. Build a relationship with them and they will buy your books and recommend them to their own network of friends.
You can collect visitor email addresses by offering a newsletter or an attractive download. You can’t get the names and email addresses of the thousands who LIKE you on Facebook, or the contact details of your buyers on Amazon. The fact is, you need an email list to build your tribe.
An author website is cheap and effective. But, you can’t build website traffic and your email list overnight. That’s one reason why the question, “I Finished My Book – What’s Next?” seems so crazy to me.
You need to set up and promote your author website from 6 months to a year before you launch your book.
Research Your Content
There is one more kind of research to do before you start writing. You want to research your topic so you are able to write an amazing book.
Research every aspect of your content. Flood your mind with your topic. And remember, you can’t accomplish this without an outline so you have an idea of what you intend to write about. This is important for both fiction and nonfiction books.
Read all the books and blog posts available on it, read research papers, do one-on-one interviews and all the rest. Keep track of your research so yoo can easily access it as you write. Don’t try to write off the top of your head all the time.
You can’t cok gourmet meals if you haven’t stocked your kitchen shelves in advance. You need the best ingredients and a recipe—called an outline in the writing world—to put the ingredients together in the right order. This strategy is how your work rises above the competition.
Present the content with the force of your personality. You have had unique experiences and have a unique perspective, so put that on the page.
Write a book. Start your research before you put your first word on the page in the three ways I’ve described.