In my experience, many independently published authors are so focused on publishing their book and offering it for sale, that they miss other important steps in the process. With platforms like CreateSpace and Lulu, anyone can upload a book to sell. The process is easy and quick.
But publishing a book does not mean sales will follow. Authors must work at marketing and promoting their books for people to become aware of each book. Awareness comes first. Sales follow awareness.
With the ease of publishing platforms like Createspace, many authors aren’t putting much thought into the business side of publishing and selling books. I am surprised at the number of independently published authors nominating their books for the Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award who don’t have a professional website or email address. Instead, they only sell their book on Amazon and use a personal email for book-related issues.
If you are going to take producing and selling your book seriously, at a minimum, you need the following:
1. A name
Every product sold has a creator and a producer. The product is sold under one of those names. When selling books, having a brand or name to sell your book under is important. This can be your author name, the name of your book series (think Chicken Soup for the Soul), the name of a publishing company you have created, or the name of a ministry you run.
2. A professional-looking website
Websites are easy to create and host. However, don’t use a free website hosting service like Wix that runs ads on the bottom of your website. Doing so signals to your site visitors that you are engaged in a hobby, not a business.
3. A professional-looking email address
A professional email address simply is one that contains your name not one that contains a cute saying like “firstname.lastname@example.org” or is simply a string of numbers and letters like “email@example.com”.
4. Business cards
Creating an attractive business card is easy. Services such as Vistaprint help you create and print business cards at extremely low rates.
5. Letterhead stationery
Creating professional-looking letterhead is not difficult. Your letterhead stationery should tote the business name you are using. Use your letterhead when you are sending out print copies of your book for reviews or other considerations (like endorsements).
Professional review services like the Midwest Book Review will not even consider a book that does not have a cover letter on letterhead accompanying it. A lack of letterhead stationery tells the recipient that the author is a novice or amateur. This can be a critical turn-off for book review publications, not to mention librarians, and other booksellers.
Jim Cox of the Midwest Book Review states:
“The use of letterhead stationery provides the distinctive impression that the book to be reviewed is coming in from someone who is experienced, professional, and knowledgeable about publishing in general, and book reviewing in particular.”
Professional-looking letterhead will be on quality paper and sport a logo. It will include the name of the publisher (even if that is just an author name), the publisher’s address, website, email, and phone number. Additionally, including the logo from a publishing association (such as Christian Small Publishers Association) sends an even stronger signal that the author is serious about publishing and promoting his or her book.
If you have not yet developed a business name, a professional website and email address, business cards or letterhead to use with your book, I encourage you to do so today.