Thursday, January 16, 2020

The Road To Publishing – Part 1

This is the first in a series of posts chronicling my journey to publication.

Photo courtesy of Visual Hunt

“So much to do. So much to learn.” 

Okay, I finished the first draft of my debut urban fantasy last month. I’m pretty much done, right? All I have to do is polish up the manuscript, have it edited, and then upload it to Amazon. The champagne is cooling even as I type.

Hold on, not so fast. According to everything I’ve read, I should have been working on my author platform long before now. I should already have an author website, an email list, and a tribe of followers on social media. I should have already begun connecting with other authors in my genre. I should already have a small, yet rabid, group of superfans.

The sad truth is, I don't have any of those things. (Hangs head in shame) My focus the last few years has been on finishing my book, not worrying about how I would sell it. Luckily for me, I’m a slow writer, which means I still have plenty of time to accomplish these things before my book comes out.

But where do I begin? I know I need a dedicated author website, but what should it look like? How often should I send out newsletters, and what should they contain? Which social media platforms should I focus on? What should I put into my automated email welcoming sequence? I’ve spent the last two years researching all this book marketing stuff, but there’s a big difference between knowing what to do and actually doing it. 

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. In the end, I have to decide which approach works best for me. So, with all the aforementioned questions, what should be  my very first step in my grand plan to conquer the book-reading universe?

Build a list of comp authors.

Not what you were expecting, was it? Think about it. If I want to evaluate the various techniques for building an author platform, what better way is there than studying how other authors go about it? Having a list of authors will allow me to:
  • Compare their websites
  • See how they engage with their readers
  • Discover what social media platforms work for them
  • Find out which editors and cover designers they recommend
  • Lots of other things I haven't even thought of yet.

So how am I compiling this list? 

Step 1. Find 20-30 authors in my genre, urban fantasy. I'll want a nice mix of A-listers, B-listers, as well as authors who are just starting out. Each group has different strengths. Finding them is easy. I read urban fantasy, so I already know seven or eight names of authors whose books I enjoy. By entering their names on Amazon, I can peruse their “also bought” lists and find more authors. This shouldn't take more than an hour.

Step 2. It’s important to find authors outside my sub-genre, too. In my case, there's epic fantasy, magical realism, dark fantasy, etc. Do their platforms differ from urban fantasy authors? If so, how? And I don’t want to forget science fiction authors either. My story weaves in some science along with the fantasy elements, so finding authors that mix fantasy and science is a must.

Once I have all these names, what am I going to do with them? I’ll tell you next time.



  1. That's it - see what other others like you are doing.
    No stress on the platform though! I didn't begin a web presence until a year before my first book came out, a blog and Twitter. You've had that for years! Plus Facebook and where else you might be. So you are ahead of where I was. And I still do not have a mailing list...

  2. Sounds like you are on the right path. Remember that you can only do so much in growing your social media platform and it only does so much to drive sales.

  3. Personally, I don't believe there's only one right way to do this. Look at what other authors are doing, and maybe you'll find some inspiration. But ultimately, your road with be unique to you.

  4. You already have an established platform. You just need to build on it.

  5. I agree with Diane you already an established platform. Just add to it a little at a time and only what feels right to you. Seeing what others have done will help you see what you want, like, and think you can handle.

    You can always add a page for your books and you can set it as the landing page for your existing and link all through your main menu. That is probably what I will do.

  6. Woohoo! You finished it! :D

    I agree with Diane.

  7. Woot for finishing your book! That's awesome!

    Sounds like you've got a pretty good marketing plan. I never spent that much time thinking about it, and then after a few years of me not finishing the next book, I just gave up on the idea all together.

    Looking forward to the next part of your road journey!

  8. This is a great approach, Ken! Very scientific in nature...which makes sense, considering you're a scientist. :) Good way to get some smart direction for your online presence.