Guest Post by Beth Lottig
When you first start writing a book, it’s possible that you are carried away with inspiration and eager to get the book “out of you,” buoyed by the thrill of creating. You willingly spend late nights typing at your computer when everyone else is asleep. You wake early, gripping your coffee mug for dear life as the sun rises, writing furiously before the great idea you dreamed about disappears with the daylight.
You edit and rewrite the same sentence twenty-two times, and revise whole chapters, all with the final destination of authorship in mind. But what happens when you finally finish that last sentence and figuratively, or literally, type the words “The End”?
What’s next after writing your book?
Whether you plan to go the traditional route and secure an agent who will shop your book around to publishers or pursue the self-publishing route, it’s a good idea to give some thought to what you want to get out of your writing career. Some questions to consider:
Do you plan to continue your full-time gig while you pursue your writing dream?
Do you want to eventually leave your day job and become a full-time writer?
Are you willing to travel to do book signings and readings while you promote your book?
If you write non-fiction, does your book set you up as an expert in your field?
Do you dream of holding your book on stage and speaking about your passion?
Having a bigger goal or dream in mind is absolutely critical to getting where you want to be.
If you plan to self-publish, you need to consider important parts of the publishing process that a traditional publishing house would usually handle—editing, creating an eye-catching cover and book interior that works for your genre, distribution and fulfillment. And keep in mind that whether you self-publish or go with a traditional house, you MUST participate in the marketing of your book. There are so many options available, and it pays to do your homework to find the right fit for you.
A few steps to tackle right now:
Write your author bio, both a short one for the back cover (about 50 words) and a longer “About the Author” one that will appear on the last page of your book.
Write your back-cover copy. After a person sees your cover and picks up your book to learn more, guess where they go next? They flip the book over to check out your back cover. At about 250 words, the back-cover copy should hook the reader and tell them exactly what they will get out of your book. Imagine the reader asking, “What’s in it for me?” then answer that question in a compelling way.
Start thinking about the style of your cover design. Flip through pages on Goodreads or Amazon to see which types of covers you are drawn to in your genre. Understand that non-fiction, sci-fi, romance, and fantasy all have specific styles that your readers will expect. Your cover designer will be better able to catch your vision if you have a few examples of styles to point to.
If you plan to pursue traditional publishing (see more about traditional publishing here and here and here), you will want to begin research for your proposal, that all-important piece that tells an agent your book is their next best-seller. For a terrific example of what to include in an agent proposal, see agent Steve Laube’s article: https://stevelaube.com/guidelines/.
A few steps to tackle right now:
Start work compiling the elements for your proposal, which will include your author bio (including social media metrics), one-sentence hook, back cover book description, competitive titles, your marketing plan (Yes, they will expect you to help market your book!), and a synopsis (fiction) or table of contents (non-fiction).
Research agents who represent your genre and are seeking new submissions.
Research publishing houses you are interested in pitching. Though most traditional publishing houses only work through agent proposals, a few still accept direct submissions from authors.
Ramp up your marketing game: Develop an author platform on social media, a website, and start engaging your target readers.
With a clear publishing vision in mind, your next steps after “The End” will be more defined, more productive, and hopefully more enjoyable. And you will soon realize that "the end" is really just the beginning.
Beth Lottig is the founder and president of Inspire Books, She has been coaching writers through the editing and publishing process for over 13 years. As an editor, she cares deeply about great content, and as a publisher, she cares deeply about how YOU as the author share that content. It's not enough to have a message. You need to bring it to the world with a killer presentation and a solid publishing strategy. "NOTHING brings me more joy than supporting writers as they bring their book to the world." -Beth Lottig