The completion of your first novel is reason for celebration. Many people talk of writing a novel but few possess the drive to spend day after day—and perhaps year after year—perfecting hundreds of pages of prose.
Now arm yourself for the long road ahead.
Professional Photo Ignore the loopy photos and caricatures some writers use on social media and have a sober, serious photo taken that reproduces well in JPG thumbnail. Yes, Stephen King writes horror but he doesn’t appear in public in a Halloween mask. Nora Roberts writes romance but you’ll never glimpse a picture of her with shoddy pink hearts floating around her head. Do not include your children, dog or great-grandmother in the photo. Editors, agents, book reviewers, readers and other authors will only take you as seriously as you take yourself.
Author Bio Many debut authors struggle with what to include in a bio. Find a balance between professional achievements and information about your private life. You’re now a member of the entertainment industry and future fans will savor the private tidbits. Equally important are writing awards and your career prior to becoming a novelist. If you’re young and don’t have many professional accomplishments to tout, mention your education if it seems appropriate.
Your completed bio must appear in several versions. You’ll need a two- or three-sentence clip for use by book review sites and the media. A longer, three to five paragraph version can be used on your Amazon and GoodReads author page. The longest version—if you have ample material to interest the reader—should appear on your author website.
Author Q & A Why did you write this particular novel? Have you been writing since childhood, or did the bug strike later? Do you have any writing rituals? What is your favorite book? Your favorite food? What advice can you lend an aspiring novelist?
For sheer economy, many book reviewers use a standard Q & A when featuring authors. Save yourself time later, when you’re busy writing your next novel while still promoting your debut, and create a Word doc of replies. No, you can’t use this boilerplate everywhere—some review sites will insist on receiving original material—but many others will happily reprint.
Jacket Copy / Synopsis Like your author bio, the description of your novel must appear in many formats and must hook the reader in the first sentence. Remember everything you’ve learned about Goal-Motivation-Conflict when writing the longer book description for your Amazon, B&N or GoodReads page, as well as the shorter, two- or three-sentence version that will appear on Smashwords and other sites. As you work to perfect the copy, notice the jacket copy used on traditionally published novels. Many include a story question to pique the reader’s interest. Others highlight the author’s rich prose style or use short, staccato sentences. Ensure that your copy reflects the type of book you’ve written.
Consistency No doubt you’ve created a social media presence everywhere from FaceBook to Google+. Now you must create a balance between promoting your book and providing valuable content for the writing community at large. What expertise can you offer? You’ll notice that my blog features material in three areas: publicity; (drawn from my background in PR) writing tips; (I’ve been writing professionally for thirty years) and family (readers enjoy reading about the adoption of a large sibling group).
Your material can be just as unique. Did you write a novel on superheroes because you’ve been hooked on Marvel Comics since age two? Perhaps you have something to say about modern culture and the heroic archetypes we all adore. Did you write a contemporary romance in between shifts at Dairy Queen and raising three children? Women struggle every day to achieve work-family balance, and surely want to hear from you. Did you leave a career in medicine or law or industry to finally achieve a lifelong dream? You can offer other writers tips on how to ensure accuracy during research, or share character sketches from an interesting career.
Whatever you decide—remain consistent and professional at all times. Don’t tweet about your political preferences. Don’t fill the Facebook feed with unrelenting plugs for your book or complaints about your Significant Other. Display Good Author Karma by helping the authors who help you, and provide the public at large with blog posts and tweets worth reading.