7 Things to Do Before You Get Published

After getting published, I realized there are some really important things to do before toy actually start the publishing process. Once you’re there, it’s a crazy world of marketing, promo, edits, deadlines, and a lot of regrets about what should have been done beforehand. Learn from some of my mistakes with these top seven things to do before you get published.

GIVEAWAY: Madeline is excited to give away a free, signed copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. (UPDATE: ddmccaleb@gmail.com won). 

madeline-martin-author-writer Possession-of-a-highlander-book-cover

Column by Madeline Martinauthor of POSSESSION OF A HIGHLANDER 
(August 2015, Diversion Publishing). Martin writes Scottish historical romance 
and lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her two daughters (AKA OldestMinion and 
YoungestMinion) along with their two cats: SketchyCat who stares at walls and 
eats fuzz and LapCat who has a shoe fetish and enjoys Kung Pow peanuts. All 
shenanigans are detailed regularly on Twitter.

1. Get to know a lot of fellow authors. Yes, we’re all introverts, but that’s the great thing about social media. It’s a great avenue for getting to know your fellow authors. And an even better way to meet some of the big-name authors without having to worry about that awkward fan-girl/guy moment where you can’t even speak. Networking is important for the following reasons:

  • Fellow authors will help promote your work to their fans.
  • They give great advice on what feels like unchartered territory.
  • They can offer promo opportunities like FB parties or bundle books.

2. Use social media. If you’re not on social media, you must get there now. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, all of those and more. Don’t just get on there personally, start an author account and really use it to your advantage. Nothing is worse than becoming a published author with three people liking your FB author page (you, your mom, and your best friend). That may or may not be personal experience talking there …

3. Create a newsletter e-mail list. I wish, wish, wish I’d started a newsletter sign up a million years ago before I got published. Why? Because it is hard to build that sucker up. Yes, social media helps, but with fast-paced Twitter streams and Facebook algorithms, you don’t always get seen by everyone. Newsletters go right to your readers (or potential readers) inbox and you know they’ll see it.

4. Understand that advertising is an untamable beast once you get published. It is so time consuming and so difficult to know exactly what works. So start paying attention now. When you click on an ad or you reply to an author post—what drew you do to it? See what works for other people now, so you’ll be savvy when it’s your turn. Also, try to network with people who run successful blogs or put out popular newsletters. Those opportunities are free (sometimes) and can have a huge impact.

5. Build your reader base. Yes, you don’t have readers yet, but you want them right? On Twitter, you can see people who follow your favorite authors in your genre. Follow them. A lot of people follow back. Build your Twitter following with people who will want to read your books. Interact with them and get to know them. Then when you do get published, you have a base of readers who already want to read your book. I wouldn’t recommend doing this on Facebook—it can easily come across as creepy—but on Facebook, you can attend FB parties and interact with other guests or you can interact with your author’s fans on the author posts.

6. Create a website. Getting a website built or building one yourself is a time-consuming and/or expensive venture. When you get published, you’ll want your time and money going toward advertising your awesome new book. Get a website now and update it regularly. Try to do exciting things to get people to want to go to it now. Make sure you include a newsletter signup and links on how to find you on social media.

7. Don’t feel silly. This is probably the most important one. I didn’t do a lot of the stuff on this list. Why? Because I felt silly. “I’m not a published author. Who would want to see my website or author account on FB??” Guess what? People will still like your page and they’ll still go to your website. It’s great to start off being published with that strong foundation (I’m assuming … since I wasn’t that person). After signing with my publisher, we had our first phone call and they rattled off all my social media sites and website and told me how they thought I’d been doing on all of them. I was shocked that they’d checked. If you’re querying agents or editors—guess what? They’re checking too. So don’t be silly and think “I’m not published, why do I need…” because now you know.

GIVEAWAY: Madeline is excited to give away a free, signed copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. (UPDATE: ddmccaleb@gmail.com won). 


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10 thoughts on “7 Things to Do Before You Get Published

  1. Christa4F

    Thanks for the wonderful advice! It really feels like your navigating blind, thru this world of publishing. I read as much as I can on it, but I don’t feel that it has helped at all. You and other authors that have given pointers and advice are really what all of us newbies need. Your suggestions have helped me move forward, when I was stuck.

  2. dyasaki

    Thanks Madeline, especially for tip #7. I really needed to hear this! I have thought about setting up an author page on Facebook, but decided it was stupid because I’m not even published yet. Same with being active on Twitter. Time to just do it! Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  3. MusiCelt

    Thanks for sharing your insight and experiences, Madeline. I appreciate hearing/reading other writers experiences, with the things one needs to do, and when, in the process of trying to get published and sell books. As a fan of Scotland, your book is now on my “to read” list. It looks very appealing! Thanks again.

  4. thepinkaholic

    Great tips! I also enjoy writing (and voraciously reading!) Scottish historical fiction/romance. My current work in progress is a time travel Scottish historical romance with a dash of some meddlesome faeries just for fun. I would love to get published (I think), but I really just write for my own enjoyment and expression. The social media tips really stuck out to me. I’m not that active on social media, and, I’m embarrassed to admit, I’ve never really thought about following my favorite authors.

  5. DeerRun

    A great list of tips! I am especially fond of number one, having been a part of Jeff Goins’s My 500 Words group since its inception in January 2014, as well as belonging to a small sub-group within that larger enterprise. It is the only online group I’ve ever participated in, in which I’ve never read a single negative comment from anyone. A rarity in these days of trolling and back-biting and jealousy. Feedback from fellow writers has been invaluable to me, both in regard to my writing and to helping with the design of the cover for my book.

  6. jadhumes

    Thanks for posting these tips. I know I have a long road ahead of me to get published. I feel better when I can refer back to the suggestions just in case I may forget something. LOL
    Thanks again!

  7. Debbie

    Thank you for reminding me I don’t have to feel “silly” just because I’m not a published writer. I tell people “I like to write” because I don’t want to make it sound like I’ve written extensively (because I haven’t) or I’ve written novels (because I haven’t). I like to write very short stories and poetry — for enjoyment. Although, I have to admit, I’d love to produce a book to share…

  8. MadelineMartin

    First of all, congratulations on your impending debut release! It’s such an exciting time!

    Regarding sharing personal stuff – I think readers LOVE personal stuff. I share a lot of my personal life on social media for my fans – family pet pics, pics/stories of my children, crazy things that happen, etc. They love that because it’s REAL. However, it depends on what kind of personal information you’re sharing. If you’re deeply religious or political, I would refrain from those posts as it might offend people (unless you write religious or political material and it corresponds with your genre, of course). Also, I’d refrain from angry rants and posting depressing posts if you have a bad day (we all have bad days, but really no one wants to hear about it).

    My e-mail address is MadelineMartin@ymail.com – please feel free to touch base if you have any questions. 🙂 Additionally, I have a ‘staggering through marketing’ series I do on my website where you may find additional helpful information: http://www.MadelineMartin.com

    Thanks for commenting and best of luck on your upcoming release!! 🙂

  9. David M.

    Thanks for taking the time to post these tips. Some of them I’ve started, but others I’m lacking. I’m trying to get a head start on interacting over social media since my first novel is coming out summer 2016. I’m used to social media on personal levels, but not publicly, as an author. I’m trying to figure out what to share with (potential) readers. Half the stuff I share with friends and family, I wouldn’t mind sharing with readers, but will they care? In other words, any suggestions on what to share and what not on one’s public profile? Thanks! David McCaleb (www.davidmccaleb.com)


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