Ten Things I’ve Learned Four Months After Publishing My First Novel

Thursday, September 19, 2013
I’ve been publishing short stories since 2007, but this year my debut novel King of the Class was released by a small literary Vancouver publisher (www.nonpublishing.com).
I’ve received many questions from debut authors mostly asking "what worked." Here are ten things that worked for me:

1.Target freelancers for reviews. I spent hours emailing publications I felt shared my target audience. Hands-down most of them ignored me or sent me polite ‘no’ emails. When I discovered the freelancers who sell regularly to these publications, I had far more success. Find them by clicking on contributors’ names.
2.Only no means no. Perseverance works. No answer does not mean no. Once in a while I’d get an email: “Good for you for not giving up. I was so busy with X, but now I’d be happy to read your book”.
3.Everybody knows somebody. At first I only asked some friends for contacts in the media industry. I learned to ask everyone. Do not pre-judge. You need reviews, so ask everyone about their friends in the media industry.

4.Expect nothing. I was wrong to assume some people would happily forward emails, post on Facebook and generally help spread the word about King of the Class. Meanwhile strangers I met online and others I barely knew went the extra mile (thank you again!) for me. Assumptions will only cause needless disappointment.

5.You can’t do it all well and simultaneously. I received many well-meaning tips to use every social media, hire a publicist, you get the idea. Try new things, but ultimately do what you are good at and what you enjoy and not all at once.

6.Don’t forget to write. Writers write. Turning yourself into a full-time marketer is OK temporarily (set a real deadline), but don’t lose your identity or risk your health to sell one more book.
7.Update all previous posts. The links are already there. Don’t waste them. If you’re a writer who has previously published articles and blog posts, email those editors. Every one I contacted was happy to update old posts with my book link, even posts that were years old.
8.Fortune favors the bold. Don’t fall into the trap of ‘how can I possibly ask them’. You have no idea what any publication takes into consideration when they are approached. Try them. I did and received a few pleasant surprises.
9.It can be hard to internalize that your control is limited. The only recipe for success is to enjoy what you’re doing, regardless of the outcome. See it as an adventure and lower your expectations.

10. Use Linked-In. I read the contacts of my contacts until my eyes were falling out of their sockets. Yes, it’s tedious. I limited it to ten hours. When I found someone who might potentially give me a review, I asked my contact for an introduction and met with success.


Join one of Green's upcoming WOW! classes:

~Learn how how to craft story ideas into flash fiction in her
Flash Fiction Workshop  starting September 30, 2013. You'll focus on carving your work down to its essence, while still conveying meaning through the successful interplay between character, conflict and theme.

~Learn how to layer your writing with literary devices in her Literary Devices Workshop starting September 30, 2013. Through short readings and in-class assignments, you'll learn how to create suspense, tension, change the pace, deepen and control your writing through the use of devices from repetition to personification. This class is suitable for anyone working on a novel, short story, memoir, essay or life story.


Margo Dill said...

Gila: These are great tips and similar things I discovered when I was/am busy marketing my middle-grade. I also learned not to be disappointed or offended if someone (especially someone who is not a writer) doesn't understand how important your book is to you. :) I had great support from family, friends, and more, and getting the word out to everyone definitely helps, because you never know who knows someone who can help you. I know you know I read King of the Class and enjoyed it immensely!

www.havetotewilltravel.com said...

Such great advice! I totally agree with #4 - that surprised me too in my marketing process. Thank you!

Marcia Peterson said...

I love top ten list posts and these are very helpful. This reminder is great: "The only recipe for success is to enjoy what you’re doing, regardless of the outcome." Congratulations on the book, Gila!

Angela Mackintosh said...

Honest tips! I think many authors expect their debut book to be a bestseller and it's important to have realistic expectations and remember we're in it for the long haul. King of Class is on my reading list! I've heard fabulous things about it and can't wait to read it! :)

Gila Green said...

I appreciate all of your comments. You've been a great support from the beginning, Margo. Thanks. Angela, I agree. It's hard not to fantasize about becoming a best seller when we are surrounded by nonstop media. Yes, MP, that seems to be the tip that resonated with most people. I'm pleased it does for you as well. Havetotewilltravel, you are very welcome and your site has an intriguing name. I will have to check it out.

Kathy Steinemann said...

"When I discovered the freelancers who sell regularly to these publications, I had far more success. Find them by clicking on contributors’ names."

Thanks, Gila. That's something I wouldn't have thought of on my own.

I wish authors could just write. This business of self-promotion brings out a side of my personality that I've always kept hidden.

Gila Green said...

You are welcome, Kathy. It would have saved me a lot of time to figure that out sooner, but I'm pleased I can save time for others.

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