34 Ways to Stay Busy (and Productive) While You Wait for Your Book Release

34 Ways to Stay Busy (and Productive) While You Wait for Your Book Release

Anyone who has queried a book to literary agents knows firsthand that the traditional publishing industry is slow-moving.

You’ve spent months, perhaps even years, writing and perfecting every last word of your manuscript. You’ve agonized over story structure, word count and your synopsis or book proposal.

In fact, your friends and family are secretly sick of hearing about your book (though they love you too much to verbalize it).

Once you signed off on your masterpiece, you threw yourself headlong into research on agents and publishers, on the hunt for that needle in the haystack.

Now that your queries and manuscript are out in the literary world, there’s nothing for you to do but sit back and wait…right?

Wrong!

There’s plenty you can and should do while waiting for your book to be published.

Even if you’re going the self-publishing route or your book has already been sold to a publisher but is still pending release, many of these activities will help you build your future readership.

Don’t sit idly by waiting for someone else to determine your future. Do something!

Here’s what to do while waiting for your book to be published.

Education and industry knowledge

1. Sign up for the free Publishers Lunch newsletter

If you want to know the latest happenings in the publishing industry, from breaking book deals to people news and industry trends, you’ve got to get this in your inbox.

2. Read blogs by publishing industry experts

Keep your finger on the pulse of publishing by reading blogs by Jane Friedman, Rachelle Gardner, Joanna Penn and more.

3. Subscribe to Writers Digest emails

The free weekly newsletter from Writers Digest features writing prompts, global publishing news, advice on how to get published and links to the latest Writers Digest blogs.

4.  Expand your education

Think about where you could step up your game.

Blogging? Marketing? Social media? Consider enrolling in relevant courses from Writers Digest, check out these free and paid online classes, visit these curated YouTube channels for writers or run a quick Twitter search for free writing webinars.

Many authors, book coaches, marketing pros and entrepreneurs offer free webinars as part of their branding and promotion efforts.

You may also consider offering your own free webinar to potential readers.

5. Keep reading for pleasure

For most writers, reading is our first love, and we shouldn’t cast it aside.

Reading helps keep your writing sharp and your mind engaged.

Plus, if you want to kill two birds with one stone, you can read on the treadmill, bike or elliptical machine.

If you love a good book deal, check out Goodreads deals. Truthfully, it’s the only daily email I look forward to.

6. Read and review books in your genre

This accomplishes several goals: It helps you stay current, keep an eye on the competition, observe what works and what doesn’t and support fellow authors.

7. Connect with a local writing group. Already found one? Stay dialed in

Writing groups are the perfect venue to share your frustrations and your victories, and to get feedback on your writing, of course.

Query and publications

8. Compile a target publication list

One tried and true way to get more readers is to get your name out there with bylines.

Use The Write Life’s list of 231 publications that pay freelance writers or this high-paying publications list.

9. Query your top choice publications

Once your publication target list is shaped up, start sending out those queries!

Start here, use these six free pitching tools and take heart even in the face of rejection.

10. Write for The Write Life

If you enjoy reading our articles, why not hop along for the ride?

The Write Life has 40,000+ email subscribers and sees more than 450,000 page views each month. Here’s how to contribute.

11. Keep tabs on #MSWL on Twitter

#MSWL = Manuscript wish list.

Here’s the deal: MSWL is intended for literary agents to share with the Twittersphere the types of manuscripts they have interest in.

It is NOT for authors to solicit attention, so don’t be that irritating person!

It doesn’t hurt to peruse MSWL posts to see if you have a soul mate in agent form. If you do find one, visit his or her web site to check submission guidelines, and go ahead and send that query!

12. Have your second-tier agent wish list ready

Just like your buddy’s Fantasy Football League draft, you hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

Well, not really the worst, just not your first choice.

Query the agents you would most like to work with first, then continue from there.

Use these free spreadsheet templates to keep tabs.

13. Keep an eye on new literary agent alerts from Writers Digest

Read the Writer’s Digest’s Guide to Literary Agents Blog for introductions to new agents, submission tips and more.

If you find an agent who accepts your genre and seems like a good fit, add him or her to your query list.

Marketing and personal branding

14. Build and start executing on your marketing plan

Authors are best served by thinking about marketing well before their books are published.

My marketing plan is built around my website, blog, email list and social media channels.

It’s also important for me to put content out there through guest blogs and articles such as these, and for me to participate in relevant online communities.

Overwhelmed? Try this book marketing checklist or use these tips to take baby steps toward your marketing end game.

15. Focus on growing your email subscription list

The benefit of creating and growing your very own email list is that you have control of the format and the content.

The same cannot be said for any social media channel.

Plus, the people who sign up for your emails are generally going to be some of your biggest fans.

Here’s your definitive guide to winning with email lists.

16. Refine your author bio and your elevator pitch

You should be able to talk about yourself and your book in everyday conversation.

People will ask about it! Have a one-sentence KAPOW ready with what it’s all about.

You should also have several versions of your author bio: one sentence, two sentences, a paragraph and a web page.

You will use these for guest blogs, articles, your media kit and your About Me web page. Spend the time to get it right.

17. Update your email signature

Does your personal email signature have a link to your website? Your blog? Your social media handles?

Well, why the heck not? You never know who you might draw in with this simple technique!

18. Consider writing and publishing a free ebook to drive email subscriptions

Why? This is a strategy called ‘reader magnets’ or an opt-in that has helped bestselling author Nick Stephenson get his first 10,000 readers.

Get the dish in his free e-book.

19. Craft an editorial calendar for your blog

It’s never a bad idea to have content ideas in your back pocket.

Consider seasons, upcoming events, planned promotions, holidays, world events, etc. Be sure to mix up your content.

As far as format, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Mine is simply a table in Microsoft Word with dates and topics.

20. Cross-link like mad

Be sure your social media accounts include a link to your web site and/or blog, and vice versa!

Don’t overlook this.

Blogging and website

21. Tidy your website

You should maintain and update content on your website quarterly, at a minimum. That’s what I did in the business world, and that’s what I do today for my website.

Spruce up your content, check links and add additional services or accolades you may have forgotten.  

Try this Broken Link Checker for WordPress or this online broken link checker for any site.

22. Keep up with your blog

One of the surprising keys to blogging success is rather straightforward: consistency.

Consistency builds trust. First, determine your frequency: monthly at a minimum; weekly is ideal. Post on the same day of the week if you can.

Keep a running log of blog ideas or a more formal editorial calendar (what you will publish and when), and consider publishing your blog in batches for the sake of efficiency. Don’t forget to respond to all blog comments you receive!

23. Document your standard blog promotion checklist

Promoting your blog shouldn’t be a hassle — the content will change, but the format should remain consistent.

For instance, my process involves posting to my website, resizing the blog header graphic for various social media platforms in Canva, using Buffer to schedule updates to my Facebook author page, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Google Plus and Twitter. I also share my blog in relevant Facebook groups that allow self-promotion.

Then, I use Mailchimp to send an email to my subscribers with a brief teaser and link to the blog.

24. Seek out guest blogging opportunities

If you’re just getting your blog off the ground, or if your readership isn’t hitting those high notes, guest blogging is a smart move.

The Write Life has tons of ideas on where to go for guest blogs.

Check out contributor Carrie Smith’s numerous “Guest Blogging Spotlight” articles or search ‘guest blog’ in The Write Life’s right-hand search bar.

25. Interview other authors on your blog

Need blog content?

Invite author or blogger colleagues to be interviewed on your blog.

The good news is, they will promote your blog to their network, which will earn you additional traffic.

They may even agree to interview you on their blog. Everybody wins!

Social media

26. Find your book people online

The goal here is to find and engage in communities that overlap with your book audience.

Once you’ve found your hangouts (search keywords in Facebook groups to start with), comment, engage, answer questions, offer advice and be visible but not obnoxious.

Focus on conversation rather than selling.

27. Participate in online writing communities

Start with these 20 fab Facebook groups for writers like you.

Don’t be a wallflower; encourage, offer help, celebrate and learn from others who share your passion for writing.

Check for ‘self-promotion’ days — most groups have them and will allow you to post your latest work or social links.

28. Follow writers you admire on Twitter

Don’t worry, I’ve done the work for you! We all appreciate a quick and easy task, right?

29. Use Crowdfire to get ideas for sharable social content

I recently discovered Crowdfire, a free content sharing app.

Here’s how it works: you hook up your social accounts, plug in keywords geared toward your audience, watch as the content suggestions come rolling in and post what you’d like to post: immediately, at the ‘best time’ (determined by Crowdfire), or as you schedule it.

It’s super user-friendly.

Crowdfire also allows Twitter users to create an automated direct message that greets new followers. Plug in a quick hello and a link to your web site. Done and done!

30. Use Buffer to schedule your social media posts

Buffer allows you to create and share social posts across platforms, free!

They also have a nifty web extension that lets you seamlessly ‘Buffer’ (share) any web page you come across.

Here’s what I do: I use Crowdfire to find content ideas, then I cut and paste that content into my Buffer schedule.

31. Create Google Alerts for topics relevant to your book

Another no-brainer: you’ll stay current and you’ll get sharable content delivered to your inbox.

32. Embrace Facebook in a new way

Have you tried incorporating video into your Facebook marketing? Have you gone live?

It’s all about engaging with your audience and keeping them interested. Check out some strategies here.

33. Try SlideShare to broaden your nonfiction audience

If you write nonfiction and have a knack for designing presentations, why not upload one on the theme of your book for others to download and share?

34. Use LinkedIn in a fresh way

For nonfiction content that is business-related, create a LinkedIn article to generate additional traffic for your writing.

It’s time to write and conquer! Keep your head up, stay busy and success will be inevitable.

What else would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments!

Traveler and blogger Chris Guillebeau

Featured resource

Unconventional Guide to Publishing

Chris Guillebeau introduces the plan you need to finally share your book with the world. Make this your year of becoming an author.

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