marketing / To Hunt a Sub

12 Surprises I Found Marketing My Debut Novel, To Hunt a Sub

quirksMarketing To Hunt a Sub, my debut novel, is a whole lot different from my non-fiction pieces. In those, I could rely on my background, my expertise in the subject, and my network of professional friends to spread the word and sell my books. Fiction–not so much. For one thing, I don’t have prior fiction novels to buttress my reputation. So I did what I have always done when preparing for the unknown: I researched. I read everything I could find on how to market a novel, collected ideas, made my plan, and jumped in without a backward glance (see two of the books I devoured here).

Well, now that much of the marketing is done, there are a few pieces I wish I’d done differently:

  • I participated in the Kindle Scout to mentally kick-off my campaign. That took longer than I expected which set me back a few weeks.
  • Uploading my manuscript to Kindle was easy, but took more preparation than I’d planned. The preparation was along the line of ‘tedious’, not ‘complicated’. No brainpower required; just time.
  • Many fellow bloggers offered to help with my blog hop, and I wish I’d kept better track of that aspect. I did have a spreadsheet, but I didn’t include enough detail.
  • I wish I’d included interview questions in the blog hop articles. Several bloggers I follow did this, but I skipped it to save time. I wish I hadn’t.
  • I should have used Facebook and Twitter more. Here’s what Stephanie Faris, efriend and published author of the Piper Morgan series, says this about a Facebook account:

Facebook is where you’ll find your friends and relatives. You’ll also find your fourth-grade teacher, your kindergarten best friend, and pretty much everyone who has ever mattered in your life. These are the people who are most likely to buy your book and tell everyone they meet about it. All you have to do is post a picture of your book and your real supporters will ask where they can get a copy.

Stephanie actually suggests the same sort of approach for Twitter. I have a Twitter account, but I forgot to use it enough!

  • Take that a step further: I should have FB’d and Tweeted the posts of my blog hop folks. Duh–that seems so obvious now.
  • I wish I’d reached out to my local library and bookstores to see if there’s appetite for a book signing or chat. Well, I could still do that!
  • I didn’t follow up well enough with fellow bloggers who offered their help. Thankfully, many of them reached out to me–emailed me with questions or confirmation of dates. I wish I’d reached out more.

A few essential pieces that I gleaned from the experience of fellow bloggers and/or just seemed logical but–surprisingly–everyone doesn’t do:

  1. Participate in Kindle Scout. It was a good first step because it forced me to create the necessary marketing pieces for the ultimate campaign–blurb, one-line summary, pristine document, and polished cover.
  2. Visit the blog hop host and respond to comments.
  3. Take blog hop visits one step further: Visit the blogs of those who comment. Join their conversations. Be a friend.
  4. Read the books of blog hosts. Usually, they’re Indies–between $0.00 and $2.99. That’s a small investment to promote your book and often, you come away with excellent entertainment for a few days. Then, review them. Add the review to not only Amazon, but Goodreads which has become the go-to location for readers and writers.

What tips do you have for marketing a new novel? What’s worked best for you? Add them to comments. I’ll curate and share them in a future post.

More on marketing your Indie novel:

Two Valuable Books on Marketing Your Newly-published Book

29+ Ways to Market Your Book

Top Ten Marketing Tips for Your Ebook

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thriller, To Hunt a Sub. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.


89 thoughts on “12 Surprises I Found Marketing My Debut Novel, To Hunt a Sub

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  5. Thank you for sharing your learning experience, Jacqui. When I published my first book in 2016 I didn’t have any social media at all, not even FB. You were a lot more prepared than I was and I learned some new thing here for my next book release.

    Liked by 1 person

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  9. Really good recap. I’d just add one more point. As long as you’re alive – the promotion should go on. 1-2 things per day – even as you are busy writing the next book – will keep it all going forward. Success is built not on one step – but many, many steps. I think sometimes we all give up too soon before the job is done.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks for sharing! I actually had a question. I was considering creating a separate Facebook page as a professional page, as my current facebook has old high school photos, etc. (nothing bad). But, I don’t know how I feel about asking friends/family to friend me twice. Do you have an opinion on that, having been through the process?

    Liked by 1 person

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  12. This is really good advice. I am into the marketing stage myself, trying to build my platform ready for launch early next year. I am doing okay with the technical side of building the platform but for me it is going to be generating interest and building email lists etc… so it’s always great to know what has and hasn’t worked for other authors. Following along now for more of your successes and I hope that sales are going well for you 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Jacqui, you seemed to be so organised with your book launch I was very impressed. For the first time I heard about Kindle Scout and your preparatory work for the tour was perfect. There is always more that can be done and yes, using Twitter is something to keep in mind. I always forget Goodreads and I realise that is becoming an important resource and connection point too. It’s impossible to do everything at once, maybe you can tackle the on ground promotion in the new year?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Most of what I did on this novel I will repeat for the sequel. I was happy with it, just realize I missed a few steps.

      Goodreads–yes, definitely becoming a writer’s place. I am surprised how often authors of books I review contact me through Goodreads with feedback, thanks, whatever. It makes it feel like a community.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Great post, Jacqui. Thank you for sharing. I’ve had a similar experience and need to improve. I’m reading every piece of advice going. Some things work, others not. It’s all a learning game. Unfortunately,the game continually changes its rules and we have to keep up. Wishing you a lovely November.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are so right, Nicola. And often, it has to do with the writer themselves–what they can do best. I wish I’d do more in-person presentations, but it just isn’t my thing. I was almost happy with Stephanie said how they don’t always go so well.


  15. Thanks for sharing what you have learned. I enjoyed finding out that Kindle Scout works so I may use it for the next book. I found that it was helpful to start marketing the book BEFORE it published. For example, I did a cover reveal beforehand and also said when the book would officially publish. These are ways to generate excitement about the book before it launches, which makes things all the more exciting (and, hopefully, successful) come launch date 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Something I should have added in my notes: I did my cover reveal prior to publishing. I should have had a link on Kindle for pre-orders. So many people liked the cover and wanted to preview the book. I missed a few opportunities.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Aww, thank you for the mention! I’m still figuring it all out. Yes, FB is for friends and relatives…Twitter tends to be more professional. Lots of authors, booksellers, readers, agents, editors, and general book lovers over there. So tweet and hashtag everything with popular tags like #amreading and #bookreview. Hashtags can bring new eyeballs to your books. I’m still trying to figure out the in-person stuff, though. Not much I’ve done has sold more than a few books and it’s not really worth getting dressed up and leaving the house if it’s just going to sell two books!

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I’m nowhere near anything called ‘publish’ but its great to know what I’m up against. I am technically illiterate still and find it all so daunting. You prove it is possible at least.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. No additions –I’m a little rusty. I’ll be looking back at this post in a year, as I get ready to launch the next fiction book. This house-building thing has been more of a hiatus than I imagined. Good luck on the launch!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Still building. Today was “close up the bees day.” We have special hive tops with wood shavings and ten pounds of “sugar candy,” insurance–just in case they run out of honey. The wood chips at the top will absorb excess moisture–hopefully avoiding the kinds of molds and mildews that can give winterizing bees fatal respiratory troubles. Those bees put out a lot of moisture! The only thing left to do for winter is to wrap the hives in rigid insulation–but not until the cold really hits. In the meantime, they’re still flying about on warm days.

        Liked by 1 person

  19. Jacqui, thank you for describing what you did and what you’ll differently next time. A great guide for me when I get to that point as I suspect I will. Sharing your experience so we can benefit is a gift. This is rough, unfamiliar terrain for many of us, certainly for me. I’ll come back to this post in future.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Marketing is a whole different monster from writing! My daughter is currently studying marketing and when I get some tips from her I’ll certainly let you know. I’m glad the book is doing so well, Jacqui. I do little to no marketing so the fact that my books sell is a constant source of surprise to me 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I owe you one, Heather, so I hope you let me participate in your future blog hop. It was fun, more work than I expected and well worth every minute. Besides that I got to know my fellow bloggers so much better through it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s almost nine here. I know because the dog is stalking me for his morning walk. I have been told writers should take a break every 15 minutes–which I never do. I aim for once an hour, get up walk around, and back to work.


  21. Hi Jacqui … great thoughts here … and yes just being methodical, then being prepared for the next book … so your series can flourish. Plan and make templates – so things are basically prepared … and can easily be updated … cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Hi Jacqui, I’m in the middle of THAS and much enjoying it. Good idea re: Goodreads. Create an author page? Post reviews of your book on FB twitter etc … short video?
    I have no clue as to this marketing malarkey but personally I am going to have to get going pretty soon. I read recently that Thanksgiving, Christmas time and so on may be a good time to market – people can gift your book – 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

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