There is nothing like the learning curve of that first book release . . . other than the next book release. Kimberly Kincaid is with us to help you countdown the waiting and the endless things to do . . .
What To Expect When You’re Expecting Your First Book
The magical moment you’ve worked for, crossed your fingers over and dreamed about has finally come—you’ve made your first sale.  Congratulations! After all the jumping up and down is done, you’ve got a new road ahead. While everyone’s journey from manuscript to book looks as unique as the writing behind the cover, here are a few things that might help you along the way.
Ask Questions. No one in publishing, regardless of whether it’s with the Big Five, a small press, or a digital-first house, is going to expect you to know the ropes upon arrival (thankfully, in many cases, the learning curve allows for years of really learning how things might go!) You’ll want to know what’s expected of you, besides the obvious delivery of the book(s) in your contract. So ask your editor questions about the process—starting with the best way to communicate. Email is usually the method that most people prefer, due to varying schedules and time zones, but I know plenty of authors who use phone calls, Skype, or even Twitter direct messages to keep the lines open with their editors. Find what works best for you and your editor, and use it!
Your Editor Isn’t Your Only Ally. Publishing houses are made up of teams of people, and they are all in your corner. As you go through the process, make it a point to get to know (either online or, if you’re lucky, in person) the people in the art department who will work on your covers, the folks in publicity who will get the word out about your books, and the copyediting team who will help make your work shine. Often, your questions can be answered by (and get forwarded to) these teams—getting to know them is important!
You’ve Got Edits! I’ll be the first to admit, when I saw the file in my inbox with my editor’s first-round edits to my debut novel, I didn’t open it for a day because I was so worried about what I’d find. But here’s the truth: your editor is your biggest champion. S/he loves your work and wants it to be a best-seller. Does that mean your manuscript is perfect? Sadly, no (trust me…no one’s is!) That does mean, however, that you’re going to work together to make it the best book it can possibly be. Sometimes that means small changes. Sometimes it means moving or even losing whole chapters or even sub-plots.
Speaking Of Which… If you and your editor disagree on a change, it is okay to speak up and respectfully stand your ground. Your editor is very likely a smart cookie who knows his or her stuff, and will make suggestions based on that experience. But your editor is also human, and reading your work subjectively like everyone else. Your book is a team effort, but it’s your name on the front. I hemmed and hawed over the first time I said to my editor, “But I really think we should XYZ, because of ABC.” But it sparked a great discussion about the layers of the book, which turned out to have stronger edits because of it.
Nuts and Bolts When it comes time for publicity, your publisher is going to almost certainly expect you to have a few things in place before your book comes out. A website is at the top of the list (there are so many options for this, it would be a whole different post! Needless to say, it doesn’t have to be super-expensive or super-fancy, but it should include a little about you, what you write, and where readers can find your books). Social media presence is another one. You don’t need to spend hours a day on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google Plus (you get the idea). Choose the platform you’re most comfortable with and spend the bulk of your energy there. I usually set aside set times in the day (after I’ve made word count goals) to log on to social media. Go according to what works for you, but know that you will be expected to engage with readers via these platforms.
Marketing Each house markets books differently. Ask your publicity team/person what your house will be doing for yours. Blog tours, advertising, book signings, interviews…all of these may play into the mix. If you’d like to supplement, don’t shy away from asking to do so (but know that it will probably be at your expense!) For my last book, my publicist set up some amazing events, which I supplemented by scheduling an online Facebook party and a book review tour. Hand in hand gets the job done!
The Best Next Step The book is out! Release day is here! Take the day to celebrate—you’ve earned it. But know that, as hard as you’ve planned and worked and edited and marketed, the very best thing you can do to make yourself a success is to write the next book.
And then you can start the process all over again!
What surprised you about your first book release or do you have any questions as you expect the arrival of your first “baby”?
Kelly Maher joins us on Friday to tell you how to am up your word count.
Kimberly Kincaid writes contemporary romance that splits the difference between sexy and sweet. When she’s not sitting cross-legged in an ancient desk chair known as “The Pleather Bomber”, she can be found practicing obscene amounts of yoga, whipping up anything from enchiladas to éclairs in her kitchen, or curled up with her nose in a book. Kimberly is a 2011 RWA Golden Heart® finalist who lives (and writes!) by the mantra that food is love. Her digital Line series is all about the hot cops and sexy chefs of Brentsville, New York. She is also the author of the Pine Mountain series, which follows small town singles as they find big-time love. Kimberly resides in Virginia with her wildly patient husband and their three daughters. Visit her any time at www.kimberlykincaid.com  or come check her out on Facebook (www.facebook.com/kimberly.kincaid1) and Twitter (@kimberlykincaid).
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