2. Learn to revise and edit your own work. Your first draft will be lousy and filled with plot holes and dangling loose ends. Editors won't appreciate you sending in a rough draft.
3. Join a writing community or organization. I spent a lot of time trolling agent and editor blogs. It's amazing what you learn about the publishing world.
4. Writing contests can give invaluable feedback but be careful. Contests can also suck your bank account dry if you get carried away.
5. Once you have polished your manuscript and mastered the art of the query letter and dreaded synopsis, go ahead and plunge in. You'll never get your work in front of an audience if you don't start submitting to agents or editors. Oh, and frame your first rejection notice. You'll have a lot of them. Someday you can hang your rejection notice right next to your acceptance letter.
Congrats! You inked a deal with a publishing house. NOW WHAT?
1. If you haven't already begun, BEGIN BUILDING YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PROFILE, start immediately. Get on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads. Create an author fan page and invite everyone you know to join in. Ask your friends and family to help you spread the word by retweeting, and sharing your posts.
2. Get thee a WEBSITE and/or BLOG. Your website will be fairly easy to maintain. It's where fans will come to learn more about you. You'll want to include your cover art, book blurb, and bio as well as links to fans can find and follow you on social media. Don't forget to include the buy links! Make sure your website reflects your personality and the tone of your books. If you enjoy blogging, add a button on your website that links to your blog. Your blog will take a lot more upkeep. Consider inviting other writers to do cover reveals, book release parties, and interviews. It will help you drive more traffic to your site, and ultimately to your books. Score!
3. Once you have approved your cover art, schedule a COVER RELEASE TOUR. Find bloggers who will help you spread the word about your upcoming release. Show off that puppy! Be sure to include an enticing blurb about the book, your photo and bio. Don't forget to plaster your cover all over Twitter and Facebook! You can even pin it on Pinterest. The more visible it is, the better. Get the hype going.
4. Are you creative? CREATE SWAG ITEMS. I designed postcards and rack cards for my novel, and business cards to pass out. They're pretty basic but fall in line with the theme of my book, and get the job done. It's all about promotion and marketing. Since much of my book takes place in a 50's style diner, my swag items have the same theme. I even created drink coasters, and purchased cute cellophane bags and tea bags so I could create unique swag bags to pass out. You'll want to take these items to any conference or book club meeting you attend. I've dropped my swag items off at used book stores, our local library, my work, and the doctor's office.
5. Once you have your final ARC, begin REQUESTING REVIEWS. There are many good and reputable review websites out there. Sign up for as many as possible, as most don't ever respond. You can also ask for reviews from fellow authors, beta readers, and on Goodreads. Having a handful of glowing, honest reviews right away will help drive sales.
6. Schedule a BLOG TOUR to help announce and celebrate your book's release. It's a lot of work, but fun (or so they say). The more exposure you and your book can get, the better.
7. ADVERTISE. You can run inexpensive ads on Facebook or any number of review websites on the web. Just be sure to set a budget for yourself. Will you be able to earn back your money in the form of royalties from sales?
8. ENTER CONTESTS. You worked really hard on your book and you're proud of it. Enter that baby into a few contests. Wouldn't it be nice to add "award-winning" to your name or book? At the very least, it will be read by a few more people who just might recommend your book to a friend.
9. Don't quit now! STICK WITH IT. I've heard a lot of authors say to keep promoting your book for a full year after its release. It takes time. I had a big enough hype to sell a lot of books in the first couple months. After that, sales slumped. Don't get discouraged. Keep at it. Keep talking to people. Go visit book clubs, conduct a mini-lesson at the local library, form friendships with other authors.
10. And most importantly, KEEP WRITING! You'll have to find a balance between your day job, promotion/marketing, and your writing. Yes, you need to work hard to keep your book in the public eye. But if your readers love your writing, do you have something else for them to purchase? Build up your backlist. I'm a slow writer, partly because plotting is torturous to me, and partly because I'm terrible at finding that balance. Consider setting aside chunks of time solely dedicated to your current WIP. Give yourself another chunk of time for promotion and blog upkeep. And don't forget to shower your family with some love every once in awhile. They have to endure the messy house, frozen meals, and MIA parent or spouse. Make sure they know how much you appreciate all their love and support.
Writing Communities, Advice, & Support
Savvy Authors - Online classes, advice, and wonderful opportunities to connect with writers, agents, and editors. I scored my contract for my first novel through this website. Highly worth the few bucks you'll spend to become a full member.
Critique Circle - Want honest feedback? Be prepared for the onslaught of opinions. Honest and brutal but worth experiencing. I learned as much from getting feedback as I did from giving feedback.
Query Shark - Ever wondered what an editor or agent is thinking when they read your query letter? Wonder no more.
KidLit - Love kid lit? This is the best site for you!
Miss Snarks First Victim - A wonderful writing community to join. Monthly contest and lots of opportunities to get your work critiqued by writers and agents.
http://writershelpingwriters.net/writing-tools/ Fabulous tools to help your develop your storyline and characters.
Writing Organizations Worth Joining
Romance Writers of America
Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators
Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America