You’ve written a book – now what?

You’ve come up with an amazing idea for a book, and, perhaps, you’ve even written it. But, before you go spending like you’re JK Rowling, the next big step is ahead – selling it.

Writing a book is a huge achievement. Unfortunately, you’re not alone – over 30,000 new titles are published in Australia each year and readers have literally millions of books to choose from. The good news is, you can get your book out there for a very little cost.

Before you try to reach your audience, make sure your book is in its best possible state. That means investing a little money upfront on structural editing (making sure the story flows and has no major plot holes), copyediting and proofreading (checking language, grammar, typos). Next, line up a graphic designer to create a book cover that will work on a variety of devices, and finally prepare the file for upload.

The biggest and most common platforms to launch your book are Kindle Direct Publishing (Amazon), Draft2Digital and IngramSpark. These platforms are free to set up, meaning no upfront costs to you, but the publisher will take a cut of your retail price for every book sold.For Kindle, there is a sliding scale depending on book price, with the sweet spot being $2.99 retail (low enough for readers to take a gamble on an unknown author, and with Amazon passing $2.09 per book over to you).

Once your book is converted and published online, you just sit back and wait for the cash to flood in, right? Well, you can, but you might wait a long time.There are over 50,000 books currently on Kindle, and titles are generally ordered by ‘bestselling’. Your average shopper on Kindle is probably not going to see your title come up when browsing, so you need them to know where to go searching for it.

That doesn’t mean spam everyone you know and every social media channel known to man with an Amazon link. People hate being sold to, but they do love a freebie. So, start sharing snippets of your book, maybe as a blog post or just the first chapter as a download. Perhaps even write a prequel as a short story. If you’re generous at the start you may end up with 50 or 100 snippets of your book out in circulation. People who read it for free spread the word for you, and the next level of people are willing to pay. Perhaps you start the price at $0.99, then as you get some traction make it $1.99, and so on. With Kindle you have full control and can experiment with the price as much as you like.

Online publishers provide formatting tools for you to convert your file from Word into the appropriate ebook format (usually EPUB or MOBI). The best part is that you haven’t entered into an exclusive agreement or lost any rights to your work – you own the file and can take it down, amend the book or change the price at any time. So, if a big publishing house does come along with a sweet deal, you have lost nothing.

Meanwhile, keep improving the book. Start writing the next one and start to build anticipation for that. For example check out TE Kinsey, now on his 5th Kindle book in a series of detective mysteries.

But what about good old fashioned print? Print books absolutely still have their place and print on demand publishers have considerably reduced the cost of a small print run. But here are a few rules of thumb for print books:

  • Go for print if your book is for children or contains a lot of images, whether photographs or illustrated. Online is a much lower risk for novels or standard nonfiction.
  • Find a distributor for your print book – either small, independent bookstores or local stores appropriate to your topic,
    such as gift shops, children’s stores, homeware stores and health food stores.
  • Have a channel to give away free books, for example, if your book is relevant to your business, give copies to your clients. Have a launch party and sign copies, creating a buzz around your book as a product.