Last night I had a long conversation with my ex-stepdaughter. Last year she moved to another state and her life there is good, but her business has been hurt by the move. She told me she wishes I lived nearby to help her promote her business.
It's the kind of business that needs personal face-to-face endorsements. Emails just won't cut it.
There are many small businesses that need that kind of personal touch. It would be nice if we could go to each book store and explain to the owners, over tea, what a wonderful product we have and why they should provide our babies shelf space, but it's not going to happen that way.
Many Independent and/or Hybrid authors are learning the ropes of being small business owners and the challenges of how to introduce their products into the marketplace in a way that will intrigue the potential customer.
The first order of business is to present as flawless a product as you possibly can. That means you must write and rewrite, no matter how long it takes or how many times you have to rewrite, until the story line and the grammar are as close to perfect as you can make them. Don't expect your beta readers to do this for you. Most beta readers are honored to be asked to read and are not fellow writers. They may see problems, but may not be able to pinpoint what they are and many beta readers don't want to hurt your feelings by telling you there is something intrinsically wrong with your manuscript.
Once you have your manuscript as close to perfect as you can make it you can move on to the next step.
What is the next step? No. It is not putting your book up on Amazon.
The next step is to find an editor who knows what she is doing. In a perfect world you would have both a copy editor and a content editor. One polices your grammar while the other looks for the inconsistencies and flaws in your story that would have a reader pelting the wall with your book. A good editor is worth her weight in gold, so don't try to cut corners and use someone just because they are cheap.
You must send the editor your best work and not expect her to be a miner. It is not her job to dig through the sludge heaps to find the nuggets of gold. It is not her job to rewrite and polish the story for you. That is your job. It is her job to find the problems that you are too close to see.
Then you have to do the edits that are suggested. If you have done your due diligence this step should not take too long. If you didn't do a proper rewrite, you will find you have a lot of work to do.
Now it is time to put the perfect face onto your product. The packaging is the first thing anyone will see of your book. Before they see the title, or your name, your blurb, or even an excerpt, they are going to see the cover in all its glory or all its flaws. People do judge the book by its cover, before they buy it. Before they even look to see who wrote it. You must find a cover artist who you can work with.
(Time for an important note!!! If you are writing a sweet romance or an inspirational novel, do not put a naked body on your cover. The naked body may sell more books, but it is false advertising and the reader will never, ever, ever forgive you for not delivering on the promise your cover makes! Likewise, if your book is riddled with sex, do not put a picture of a white church in the middle of the town square on the cover. Inspirationals may be an up and coming market, but they are not your market. No matter how wonderful you may think your characters are or how uplifting the story, not everyone is going to love them, and the readers will not love them if you sold them sweetness and innocence and gave them hard core sexual situations.)
A good cover artist will tell you when the cover you want does not go with the story you are selling.
Once you have the best product you can devise, then it is time to put it up for sale on the platforms you have chosen. And marketing begins. But that is a story for another day.
Just remember, people will forgive many things, but they will not forgive you if you tell them you are selling them a Shetland pony and they get it home only to discover it is a Saint Bernard with gas problems. Be honest in your packaging and your labeling.
And sell them the best damn book you can!