Ten things I’ve learned four months after publishing my first novel King of the Class

I’ve been publishing short stories since 2006, 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.

Ten things I’ve learned four months after publishing my first novel King of the Class

  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.  

  1. 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”.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.  

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1.  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. 


Yael Unterman said...

Thanks, that's very helpful. Looks like you worked really hard at this and were highly resourceful. Hope you got satisfaction from the results.

Sue Bursztynski said...

To this I would like to add "Personalise your requests." When I get something that's obviously been sent ut en masse, I conclude that the author has not bothered to check out my blog at all, just gone through the contact details of a large number of blogs and doesn't care, as long as someone reviews their book. I delete such requests without replying. I will reply to someone who uses my name, even if it's no. Absolutely *don't* persevere, with me, at least; sometimes no really does mean no. And check out the review policy. I, for example, won't review ebooks. I don't do this for a living and I want something solid I can put on my library shelves afterwards. And I keep getting requests from people who want me to read their ebooks. So - show some courtesy by actually looking at the blogs you write to and you might get more replies. ;-)

Tania Elfersy said...

These are great tips, Gila - valuable lessons to share!

Margo Dill said...

These are great tips. I'm wondering about the reviews you asked for. Did you ask them to post on Amazon, GOodreads, B and N.com or were they mostly on blogs, online pubs, print pubs, etc?

Thanks again for sharing this!

Kathryn Schleich said...

Must-read tips for authors. All of them are great. Having been down a similar road, my two favorites are expect nothing and don't forget to write. It is so easy to forget you are a writer, especially when you're busy promoting you book.

Gila Green said...

Sue, I absolutely agree that no means no. If you read my post, I wrote only no means no and no answer does not mean no. Thanks for adding your other tips.
Margo, most of the reviews I asked for were from magazines/publications/bloggers I felt targeted my audience. Example: I am Canadian, so I felt I'd have more success asking Canadian publications. As for Amazon/Goodreads if the reviewer was a blogger or someone online, I did ask them to repost on Amazon and Goodreads with mixed success.

Ann said...


Thanks for these great tips. This is very helpful for those of us still waiting to get published. I will keep your list in mind when it is time to start marketing my book. :)