Instant or overnight fame is the dream of anyone who has tried to develop an audience for their books. All of us wish for it, but the reality is far different.
Becoming a published author isn’t about just writing and putting up a book for sale. It’s far more than that. There are steps you can take prior to publication that will ease you down that road, but the reality is that for most of us, it will take a minimum of five years of hard work to be discovered.
What can you, as a fledgling author, do to improve your chances of having your first book have a great debut?
First, there are no guarantees that you will actually sell many copies of your first book, until you’re discovered as an author. Some people do, others don’t. Those who do work hard, every single day, including weekends and holidays, to get their books noticed. We haunt Facebook and Twitter, oftentimes finding ourselves in a time out for posting too often. We will talk about our work to people we meet on the street, reinforcing the idea that authors are a bit touched in the head. Many of us will hand out postcards or bookmarks to perfect strangers after striking up a conversation. Every waking moment of our lives is consumed with “how do I improve my promotional tools” and “where can I set up an appearance, to possibly sell books and find more fans.” That’s in addition to plotting out our next novel. In between all of that, those authors completely dedicated to improving their name brand, to getting more people to know about them, will be competing to be included in anthologies in their genre. We’ll be writing shorts that are similar to our novels, to offer potential new readers the chance to check out our work without paying a great deal of money.
All of this is called name branding. We are getting you to know our name, what we do, and how much we’d like you to love our work. It’s shameless. It’s a twenty-four a day job. And it’s never ending. Our families are used to our muttering about how this or that didn’t work, but hey, this one did. They roll their eyes while out with us in public, claiming we’re embarrassing them, but secretly smiling when we engage a potential new fan in our work. Our meal time conversations often begin with “This character is driving me nuts…”
What the good, determined authors never do is give up. We take our lumps. We moan privately about reviews that don’t give us the satisfaction we desire. We take a deep breath and dive into social media discussions about how to deal with cyber-bullies or cyber-pirates. Our hearts skip a beat when we see there was a sale of one of our books. We do the happy dance with our fingers while talking about what new story has hit us.
Fans eager to know more about us will haunt our Facebook fan pages or Twitter feeds, where we will connect with many, many people in one day, and come back to do it again the next day. There will be discussions about the private part of our lives, which we will protect with the fierceness of a lioness protecting her cut. But we will never, ever disclose some things about our lives.
Name branding as an author is as important as having a well edited book, of having an attractive and eye-catching cover. The ability to attract attention to our books is as important as writing them. And then it happens…
Your sales spike up one month, and then the next. You’re soon being touted as the “new” author whose work is well worth reading. It doesn’t matter if it’s the day your first book releases, or five years later, or even ten years later—the feeling will be the same. You have made it, but only if you realize that overnight fame often takes many, many overnights.