If you're getting ready to release your first book--first, I'll say congratulations. You've reached milestone that many before you have reached, and many after you desire to reach. I hope to share some things below that I wish someone had shared with me. Following just a few of these can give you a better chance of success.
1) Create your platform NOW. Get involved in social media. Learn to write short, interesting tweets. Set up a blog and WRITE. You don't have to blog every day. In fact, you're probably going to bore a lot of people if you do. I mean, seriously, do you have something truly worthwhile to say every day? Something significant to share? Get a facebook page and invite your friends, family and others that are interested in the genre you're writing.
2) Now, to the really hard soul searching issues. Ask yourself the following questions:
1) Have you written the very best story you can write?
2) Are your characters well defined and easily identifiable even if you don't use their name?
3) Are your descriptions overly wordy, or easy for the reader to use their own imagination along with well placed descriptive words?
4) Has your book been professionally edited?
5) Have you sent out review copies to major review sites and/or review bloggers?
6) If self-publishing, have you studied the formatting for properly formatted books so that your book is attractive and easy to follow?
7) Are you ready to commit at least one hour or more a day to doing something to promote yourself and your book?
8) Is your cover professional looking and complimentary to your book? Put it up for your social media contacts to review and comment on. Run two or three potential covers and let people choose the best. The benefit here is you'll get an eye-catching cover as well as pre-release publicity for your book.
9) Do you have a marketing budget?
I'm sure there are a lot of things I've missed, so if you're reading this and you can think of something to add, then please do. These are just a few of the ones I wish I had known about four years ago. I've always followed the professional editing route, but I was totally unaware of author platforms, and yes, there are times when I look back now that I wish I could start over. I think my books are the best story I could write, but perhaps I would written the series differently. I would have started at the beginning and plotted exactly where the series was going, and how long it would continue.
Reviews are essential to your success. Getting reviews can be difficult, and take weeks or months before they're posted, so it's important that you look for those most beneficial to your genre prior to publication. Seek out good reviewers or bloggers that have a consistent following in your genre. There are many out there just waiting for a book just like yours, however, they may have an overload and a good review takes time.
It's said only the strong survive. And that is essentially true if you're an author. You're going to come up against some rough winds and choppy waters. Unless you're extremely rich already, or win the lottery, odds are you're not going to be an overnight success. The competition is vast and getting your book into the hands of people wanting to read it isn't as easy as it sounds. And even bestselling authors occasionally get a bad review. So face it, you're probably going to get a bad review at some point during your career. It isn't necessarily the bad review that will hurt you--it's your response to it. If it's an honest review, then pay attention to what the reviewer is saying. Learn from it. Thank the person for taking the time to read and review your book. Bad reviews don't necessarily hurt you. In fact in some instances they actually increase sales. But you've got to be tough. And you have to above all believe in yourself and your product. It's impossible to sell something you wouldn't buy yourself. So ask yourself why would I buy this book? What's appealing to me about it? The answers to those questions are the basis for your promotional platform. Good luck.