Saturday, November 05, 2005

Commandments for New Authors

Because my publisher buys a lot of new authors, I've seen over and over the pitfalls that new writers fall into. I'm hardly a veteran myself with only three books out, but I've learned a few things with each new release, and I came up with these commandments for new writers. I'm still struggling to follow all of them myself, especially the not obsessing about things which I can't control.

  1. Thou shalt not Google thy name or thy book title
  2. Thou shalt not check thy Amazon or thy numbers every hour
  3. Thou shalt not lurk on message boards where books are discussed
  4. Thou shalt not read reviews of thy book (Unless first vetted by a trusted friend)
  5. Thou shalt not call Ingram for sales numbers (At least not more than once a day)
  6. Thou shalt not compare thy career to that of other writers
  7. Thou shalt not obsess over that which you have no control
I wanted to come up with 10 Commandments, but as you can see, I fell a little short. Anyone have any advice to add?


Sue-Ellen Welfonder said...

Excellent advice, Patti, and you are so fortunate to be able to do this so early in your career. In fact, these are just the tips that I, too, would offer to newbie authors wishing to preserve their sanity. Likewise veteran authors. But I doubt many will heed such advice - or stick with it even if they try. Googling one's name, peeking at amazon and online romance site message boards can be very tempting and addictive. It is also like listening at doors. Sooner or later you hear something you wished you hadn't and then you die. Or, better said, you easily fall into a black pit of self-doubt. And that can be horrendous for a working author with deadlines to meet. I stopped looking at such things in 2002, but I wish I'd avoided them from the beginning. Fortunately I have an iron self-discipline and have never been tempted to start looking again. I am too thin-skinned to dare and my deadlines are too many and too tight to allow such a risk. My nerves are much better for being an ostrich! For example, I saw my very first ghastly amazon review on the morning of my birthday. It was for DEVIL IN A KILT, a book that did and is still doing very well for me. But that scathing amazon review instantly negated all the good things and ruined a day that should have been special and lovely. And since nasty amazon hits and suchlike are an unavoidable part of being published, an author who can't resist such peeking would be wise to develop an elephant hide. Me, I prefer ostrich skin.

JoAnn Ross said...

I think I was fortunate because when I started there wasn't such a thing as Google. Heck, I don't think there was an Internet. I'm now at about 95 books and can honestly say I've lost my Ingram phone number, never read numbers or reviews on Amazon, only read reviews my editor, agent, or friends share with me (which means they're the good ones) and try to stay focused on the Work. Which is the only thing (and then only occasionally) I can control. Which may be why I'm still around -- and reasonably sane -- after 23 years in this business. :)

Bronwyn Jameson said...

8. Thou shalt not Technorati search to see if anyone has blogged about your book
9. Thous shalt not check website statistics every day to see if any readers are reading your book excerpts.

Not that I would. I'm just adding to the discussion and yr excellent list, Patti. ;)

Ann Roth said...

Patti-- I love this list and some of the addtions others have posted.

How about adding some thou shalts??

1. Thou shalt sit thy behind in the chair every day and write thy pages.
2. Thou shalt continue to learn and improve thy craft.
3. Thou shalt reward thyself with chocolate whenever necessary.
4. Thou shalt surround thyself with supportive friends and shalt divest thyself of those who seek to undermine thine efforts with catty or derogative comments.
5. Thou shalt take time to enjoy life and spend time with thy family and friends, for these things replenish thy creative well.
6. Thou shalt read books in all genres to expand thy horizons.
7. Thou shalt, from time to time, attend workshops, sympsiums and/or conferences for the purpose or netweorking, learning new things, and/or making new friends and seeing old ones.
8. Thou shalt honor thy muse by jotting down any ideas, snippets of conversation, or character traits that said muse pushes into thy head. Honoring said muse by taking her seriously will encourage her to feed thy spirit often and well.
9. Thy shalt form a support group of like-minded friends to help, assist, inform and support thyself whenever necessary. In return...
10. Thou shalt offer support, assistance and information to thy friends when they are in need of such.
11. Thou shalt share good news, for good news is a good thing to share.

Colleen Thompson said...

These are terrific - and I love Ann's "thou shalts, too"!

Bronwyn Jameson said...

Great commandments, Ann!