Monday, March 19, 2012

The Top Three Things You've Learned

As many of you know, I'm a member of the debut novelist group The Elevensies. But we're no longer in the year 2011...and we're no longer debuts. Surely we've learned something in that time. I recently asked the group to list out the top three things they've learned in their debut years. If you're currently a debut--or if you want to be a debut one day--I hope these mini-lists of advice help you out!

First, my advice:
1. It's not the kind of swag you get, but how you use it.
2. New goal: never do another event by myself (more authors = more fun & less stress!)
3. Sometimes it's easier to rewrite the book than revise it.

Here's what the rest of the Elevensies had to say:

Julia Karr
1. Don't be stressed, you're doing this because you love to write. 
2. A good editor is worth their weight in gold.
3. Keep writing the stories you want to tell.

Helen Landalf
1. The revisions you do before the sale are only the beginning.
2. Promoting is just another phase of the writing process - embrace it!
3. Always write the book that challenges you.

Tessa Gratton
1. The Internet is not God.
2. I can't control what people say about my book, what marketing it does or doesn't get, or gravity, but I CAN control my reactions to everything.
3. Save all your receipts. ALL OF THEM.

Sara Bennett Wealer
1. Dedicate a BIG chunk of your advance for promo (more than you think you'll need).
2. There will be disappointments--sometimes big ones; have tissues and a shoulder to cry on handy. 
3. Always be working on something new!

Angie Smibert
1. Invest in a good office chair. You'll be spending a lot of time in it.
2. Don't get caught up in marketing. No one really knows what works.
3. Always be writing.

Tommy Greenwald
1. Editors are slow but wonderful.
2. Try not to obsess over things beyond your control.
3. When you do obsess over things beyond your control, have chocolate handy.

Kiki Hamilton
1. Write for the love of the story only you can tell.
2. Embrace book bloggers - they are AWESOME.
3. Believe in yourself. Never waver. If you want it bad enough - you can find a way to make it happen.

Terry Lynn Johnson
1. Patience! The waiting. Never. Ends.
2. Write your next book while you're waiting.
3. Did I mention the waiting?

Dawn Metcalf
1. Thou shalt not stress about things over which you have no control, be it cover art, marketing, sales numbers, promo, the migration of editors and agents, or other mysteries of the publishing universe.
2. Meet lots of people, online and in-person, and keep in touch! These wonderful human beings are your lifelines to sanity.
3. Write the next book that inspires you.

Kristi Cook
1. A book is never really "done" until the editor pries it from your hot little hands
2. Writing an 80K word book is easier than writing a 5 page synopsis
3. Worrying about all the stuff you *can't* control will drive you nuts. Instead, focus on what you *can* control--writing a really good book!

Lisa Desrochers
1. There is nothing more valuable than a honest critique partner who gets your writing.
2. Don't stress about the stuff that's out of your control. (Like covers.)
3. Find some awesome writerly friends who will hug you when you need it.

Clete Barrett Smith
1. Librarians, teachers and children's booksellers--in addition to being the best people in the world--are largely responsible for getting your book into the hands of kids. Treat them accordingly.
2. Learn to enjoy the public speaking that goes along with book promotion.
3. Your (possibly lifelong) goal of being a published author has been accomplished. Congrats! Now it's time to set new writing goals.

Elana Johnson
1. It's never too early to start the next book, series or no series.
2. Spend more time writing than promoting.
3. Learn to say no.


Ann Finkelstein said...

Fantastic advice!

Anna Staniszewski said...

So much great advice, and I agree with all of it. Funny how certain things kept coming back:
Don't stress about things beyond your control
Keep writing

Matthew MacNish said...

All great points! Thanks, Beth, and everyone.

Gabe (Ava Jae) said...

Fantastic advice. I love it. Thanks for sharing these great tips with us!

Amy Fellner Dominy said...

So true! Thanks for sharing.

Sashi K said...

Love this post! A quick read, but so much here! Will definitely bookmark and come back to it.

Jeigh said...

Great advice! I can't wait until I can put it to use!

John Wiswell said...

Would you ever do a follow-up post unpacking the anecdotes that make these things lessons for you? What events illustrate them working or not?

Angela Brown said...

I would probably be interesting to have something of a before and after. Like thoughts on what is expected before publication vs. the advice gained from living it out.

I suppose this crosses my mind because the advice provided is helpful and real. I love it.

Liza Kane said...

Awesome tips! Thanks for sharing!

Christina Farley said...

Great advice. I've already printed it out. Thanks!

Andrea Mack said...

Thanks for compiling these!

Carol Baldwin said...

Great post. Came via Becky levine's blog and now i need to stay and sign up! Thanks for putting this all together.