Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Self-Published: Contacts

This is part three of Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Self-Published. In Social Media, I wrote about the importance of building your brand. In Moral Support, I made some suggestions on how to start acting and thinking like an author. Now, let’s look at building your contacts lists. You’re better off to find readers for your published work before it’s published.

My Experience

Believe it or not, it was easier to write a book and self-publish it than it has been to sell it. Initially, I chose to self-publish through iUniverse. (By the way, here’s a great summary by Jane Friedman on self-publishing options 4 Key Categories of Self-publishing.) At some point, I was asked for a marketing plan. I had one. The problem was I wasn’t set up to execute it, because I had so few contacts.

Recognize the Challenge

There is less respect given to a self-published author than a traditionally published one. You can’t count on being reviewed in major newspapers and magazines. You can’t count on major bookstores to give you much, if any, shelf space or to allow you to have a signing in their stores. And your digital book will be one of hundreds of thousands downloadable titles. How will it stand out from the crowd?

Tally Your Contacts

Who do you know? Family, friends, acquaintances and co-workers are a start. If you have established a social media presence, then you have blog readers, friends, and followers. If you have joined some writing associations, book clubs, writing circles, etc, then you’re doing alright. But you can do better!

Create Contact Lists

  1. You come across an article about an agent who represents your genre and has a client whose writing is similar to yours (and you know this because you have read the book). Quick! What do you do? Write the agent’s name down on your Potential Agents list. I know I’m writing this for future self-publishers, but you might decide to test the waters of traditional publishing. You may as well be prepared.
  2. As you write, network and learn, you will hear about all sorts of local events where you can network some more or learn something or sell your future book. Try to check some of these out, but don’t forget to add all of them to your Events List. Once you publish, you will definitely want to be there. It won’t matter if it’s the church bazaar or an authors’ conference. You may not want to be there, but you will need to be there.
  3. When you make a new contact, ask if you can add him/her to your mailing list. When you have news to share such as when your book will be published or your book launch, you can announce it to all the addressees on your e-mail list through a newsletter. You don’t have to publish a newsletter regularly. Even once a year is enough to remind people you exist and it doesn’t have to be a huge announcement. Here’s a little help: 8 Elements of Effective Author Newsletters.
  4. Find online reviewers who will review self-published books on their blogs. Most do it for free. You will need their support to rise above the crowd. So make a Reviewers List. Joel Friedlander gives you the step-by-step in How To Get Reviews For Self-Published Books.
  5. If you plan on printing your work, make a list of bookstore managers to talk to. Independent bookstores will give you some shelf-space. It does take a little convincing. A good way to get on their shelves is to become a recognized face. You can become a customer. You can also let the manager know you exist, mention you plan on publishing and ask about the store’s consignment program. You will probably break even, but if people are reading your book, than they might talk about it and get you more readers.


There is a lot more to publishing than writing. There is a lot learn and do. Don’t forget that your book is your product. Once you publish it, you are running a business. If you were opening a store, you would rent a space, buy equipment, buy merchandise, find an accountant and maybe a lawyer, advertise, etc. Think of all these tasks I’m suggesting you do as laying the groundwork for opening your store. As an author, you are the business so set yourself up to be successful!

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I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment.

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  1. #1 by Dean Lappi on May 9, 2011 - 5:56 PM

    Great blog! Thanks for sharing. Cheers, Dean Lappi, author of the dark fantasy novel BLACK NUMBERS.

    • #2 by Patricia Caviglia on May 10, 2011 - 3:38 PM

      I am happy to share the little bit of knowledge I have accumulated so far. There is so much to learn about selling a book that, at first, it feels insurmountable unless one begins to prepare ahead of publication.

  1. Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Self-published: Finances « Masks' Blog

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