What We Learned this Debut Year: Part 1


Hi all!! Whew, it’s been quite a year, for each and every one of the Fearless Fifteeners. I asked Fifteeners to write a paragraph about what they learned in their debut year…and I will be posting these throughout the month. Here is the first set. Valuable stuff! See if you can spot the themes…

Cam Baity & Benny Zelkowicz, co-authors of THE FIRST BOOK OF ORE: THE FOUNDRY’S EDGE:

“Writing and releasing THE FIRST BOOK OF ORE: THE FOUNDRY’S EDGE was one of the most gratifying creative experiences of our careers. We’re not gonna lie––it was a road of potholes and dangers and despair, but there were also moments of staggering exuberance. Opening that first box of finished books is a tear-jerking sensation like no other. But we digress. The good stuff is obvious, so we’ll focus on more practical insights that have made us better writers and better at the business of being authors. Hopefully these tips will help those preparing to make this jump. First, don’t quit your day job. Startlingly few authors manage to make a real living from their writing, so don’t go into it expecting that you will be the next (enter famous author name here.) Second, hire an outside publicist because the reality is that most debut authors get minimal attention from the publisher’s in-house team. Ask for recommendations to find your publicist and hire someone with experience in your particular genre or demographic – don’t be swayed by empty promises. Bear in mind, of course, that even with an in-house publicist AND a hired publicist, you will still be doing most of the legwork yourself. Third (and this is a less significant thing but still relevant), when signing a book for a reader, it’s a good thing to include the date to help make the signing a fond memory. However, when signing stock at a bookstore, don’t write the date you signed. If the book doesn’t move quickly, it will look old and stale and will likely get returned to the publisher. Last and probably least, don’t dink around too much with Goodreads or most blogs and reviews. It will likely lead to frustration and pent-up resentment that will leave you feeling powerless. That’s the short list – happy authoring!”

Jen Brooks, author of IN A WORLD JUST RIGHT:

“In my debut year, I’ve learned how to deal with success and disappointment, reviews and requests, jealousy and earnest happiness for others. I’ve learned exactly how many consecutive days I can sit in a chair for fourteen hours straight (hello book 2) and how hard it is to be separated for multiple nights/weekends from my family. I have learned what I’m willing to do to promote my work and what I’m not. I have learned who my audience is and how grateful I am for readers who really “get” my work. I cannot emphasize this enough: readers who, for whatever reason, find my work resonates with them are the only thing that has kept me going when I had my darkest doubts. (If you have ever read a book and truly enjoyed it, please let the author know–by Tweet, email, whatever.) I have learned, above all–as a shy sort of person scared to death of the imperative to “network!”–that YA writers are the most generous, kind, supportive, kindred souls I could ever have hoped to encounter in my lifetime. Thank you to all of you who have shared this remarkable journey. I love to write. I love to be part of a collective of fellow writers. It takes a village to raise a writer–so they say!”

Melody Maysonet, author of A WORK OF ART:

“The time leading up to publication is way more exciting than the time after publication, so enjoy it and try not to sweat the small stuff. After my book was out in the world, I became a little obsessed with tracking book reviews, which was exciting, but like I said, it can become obsessive if you let it. I also spent way too much time trying to track how my book was selling via Amazon Author Central (a tool I think every author should ignore–but try getting me to stop looking!) Most of all, I learned not to compare my own success with that of other authors. It’s hard not to feel jealous when you see a fellow debuter getting tons of accolades. I got my fair share too, but somehow I keep wanting more. I have to remember that getting published in the first place is a dream come true, and there’s no sense in letting envy tarnish the experience. “

N.K. Traver, author of DUPLICITY:

“My biggest debut lesson was learning to let go. As many debuters did, I spent the first few weeks obsessively checking my Goodreads and Amazon rankings, applying those rankings to my worth as a human, and fretting over sales numbers even though I had no actual idea what said sales numbers were. The best thing I ever did was to stop checking. “What will be will be,” as they say, and once your book is in the world, you’ve done all you can as an author – you put the words on the page, and the rest is out of your control. Realizing that helped me get back to worrying about what I was writing instead of how many reviews had gone up in the last hour. Er, I mean week. No one checks every hour, that would be crazy…”

More to come!!


One thought on “What We Learned this Debut Year: Part 1

  1. This is a wonderful post! Thank you all for sharing your experiences. As a soon-to-be 2016 debut author,checking Goodreads on a daily basis(oops! I meant not checking) 🙂 I want to soak up as much advice as I can.

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