Many first-time authors focus on publishing the way a pregnant woman focuses on birth. The soon-to-be mother thinks, “I'm going to have a baby!” not “I'm going to have a sullen teenager who hates me and bashes up my car.” Your book won't hate you, but you will hate yourself if you don't prepare for its future. I made a number of critical mistakes in publishing both my print and ebooks. If you don't do what I did, your book won't have so many accidents later on.
My first mistake: I didn't prepare.
I didn't have a website in place several months before my books were published. I didn't create “buzz” by announcing my upcoming book to the relevant audience. I didn't contact reviewers four months in advance of publication (for ebooks). I didn't have a cover for my ebook ready before the publication date (to send to reviewers). I didn't schedule talks and appearances to coincide with the publication date.
Instead of doing all these things before the publication date, I did them afterwards. And now my book has bashed up my car.
This is what you should do:
1. Launch your author's website now. If you don't have a book published, just put your photo and bio on the home page (see the “marketing” entry). Begin a blog. You are a writer, so take your blog seriously. Write about your area of expertise if you write non-fiction. If you write fiction, you can write about anything, as long as it is entertaining and/or informative. Unless it is a sample chapter of your upcoming book, do not post unpublished work on your website! An author's website is supposed to showcase his or her accomplishments.
2. Five months before the publication date start working on your ebook cover. Don't do this yourself unless you have a flair for design. Hire an ebook designer, not a graphic designer. There are many online. Make sure you look at their portfolios first. You can also contact writers who have eye-catching ebook covers and ask them who the designer was.
3. Four months before your book is published, contact reviewers and send them the galleys. (For ebooks, reviewers may request a PDF file or hard copy.)
4. Two months before the publication date, start scheduling talks and appearances.
5. Six weeks before the publication date start contacting groups and organizations which might be interested in your upcoming book. They will ignore you for the most part, but do it anyway.
6. Maintain your blog. Two entries a week. You can blog about everything you did right.