50 Writers Offer Advice to the Newly Published

Kate Flora: When I asked my Facebook friends for advice for newly published writers, my lovely friend Patricia Smiley immediately offered this advice: If it’s not too late…RUN, RUN AWAY!

But if you’re not inclined to run? Here’s a little of my advice, followed by advice from dozens of experienced writers. Never leave home without a case of your books in the trunk. Seriously. Not just for your first book, but for EVERY book. In the midst of events, promotion, and writing the second book, take the time to celebrate the joy of publication, There is never again a moment like the arrival of the first book. And of course, there’s be nice to people. We’re a small community. Much of this is echoed in the comments below.

On the Importance of Celebration and Balance, or Enjoy the Moment and KEEP WRITING

Steven Axelrod: Lower your expectations, and get that next book written.

Linda Gordon Hengerer: Keep writing. Don’t let the process stop the next book.

Lisa Alber: You only get one debut novel experience — remember to enjoy the ride!

Janet Schnell Koch: Don’t read reviews. The bad ones will depress you and you won’t believe the good ones.

Michael Broadway: Now that you have one published, it’s time to start writing the next one.

Joyce Yarrow: Relax and rejuvenate – read the books you didn’t have time to read while writing – and then get back to work. If your publisher did not send out ARC’s, mail a few out to reviewers and set up a few readings/signings at bookstores. Don’t try to master marketing techniques unless that’s your chosen field – remember – you are a writer!

Wendy Hornsby: Keep writing.

Ellen Byron: Enjoy every minute of it. There’s only one first time.

Carl Johnson: I would give three pieces of advice, ENJOY! ENJOY! ENJOY! It will never better than your first event but they’ll all be fun if you let yourself relax and enjoy the people and take pleasure in the interest and the enjoyment they get from your book. Be seen as much as you can BUT don’t let the book, or books, become your life. The old saying ‘All work and no play, etc.’ applies to writers as much as anybody. If you become dull, your books will, too.

Marni Graff: Moderate your marketing work to allow WRITING time or you won’t have anything else to sell!

Daniel Palmer: My dad’s advice to the question of what next was always the same: write another book.

Nancy Myer: Never give up! Rejection letters are part of the process.

John DeDakis: Don’t give up

Wendy Mnookin: Take a deep breath, and write.

Rick Helms: Write. Submit. Repeat.

J.M. Cornwell: Good days, bad days, blah days, no matter what, keep writing. Writing improves when you write every day, and some days nothing good seems to end up on the page. Even so, don’t stop writing.

Ilene Schneider, Rabbi-Author: Grow a thick skin against criticism. But don’t get overly confident about success. Don’t expect to get rich.

Ray Salemi: Don’t let it get to you.

Steven Axelrod: Lower your expectations, and get that next book written.

Linda Gordon Hengerer: Keep writing. Don’t let the process stop the next book.

Ray Salemi: Quit your day job. Right now. Today.

Devon Ellington: This is just the start of the marathon. This is the last time you can take as long as you want to finish a book or use “life” as an excuse not to write.

Vaughn Hardacker and Ray Anderson say: Don’t quit your day job, while Ray Salemi says quit your job at once. Ray is joking. See Ilene’s comment, above.

Sheila Lowe: The only thing better than the arrival of the first book is the arrival of the second book ‪:)

On the Business of Writing:

 Reed Farrel Coleman: Getting published isn’t the end point, but the starting point. Figure out how to sustain the momentum.

Brendan DuBois: As much as it pains me to say this, don’t trust your editor, and keep pressure on your agent. It’s *your* career. Take responsibility for it. Don’t believe the promises and hype. Push to promote. And keep writing, writing, writing.

Lea Wait: Thank your agent and editor … and keep in touch. Let them know about your promotional schedule and send copies of any local articles/reviews they might not have seen.

Elizabeth Black: The money flows from the publisher to the writer, never the other way around. Never pay to have someone publish your work. Vanity presses and scams are out there so watch out for them. That said, it is always a good idea to hire a good editor to read your book or do a trade with another writer you respect for substantive editing and grammar/spelling editing. Editors see things you miss since you’re very close to your work.

Bonnie Riley: As a website support person, I would urge you to let your fans know what is going on, especially when and where you will be making appearances and the names of all your books (by series, if that applies) and in what order they might ideally be read.

Gale Borger: Congratulations, and your job has only begun. You are the one who needs to market. ‪You may not get to be rich and famous, but that is not why we write in the first place. We are compelled. Keep this feeling of joy and accomplishment close to your heart, it is your reward. ‪Never stop writing, and the mean people out there can piss up a rope.

Patricia Gulley: Don’t spend too much money on those 1 or 3 month Twitter blasts.

Robert Walker: Luck plays the largest role in publishing. Lightening strikes are rare, and while it happens, you can count on it as much as you can count on winning the lottery. As in any entertainment business, there are a few stars at the top and thousands of authors never make star status in the category they’ve chosen to write in. The best you can do is to write the best book you can after the disappointment sure to come with first publication when you learn your publicist has 300 books this month to ‘publicize’ and only two of these have a budget as they are books by the stars already successful. This sounds pessimistic but I am obviously an optimist since I am working on my 67th title regardless of status and rewards and remuneration.

On modesty, humility, and the crime writing community:

Susanna Calkins: Don’t shut the door behind you. GIVE BACK to the writing community.

Dru Ann: Be kind to all readers – even if they may not read your book

Mysti Berry: You’ll spend about a year on a serious ego trip without realizing it. Very few writers escape this period. Try not to do too much damage until your ego deflates again.

Michelle Hoover: Keep your humility. You aren’t saving the world, but hopefully you’ve written a great damn book.

Sue Ann Jaffarian: Don’t be an arrogant ass. Yes, your book got published, but this is a long game and you need to develop relationships as well as sell books to stay in it.

On Promotion:

Bill Hopkins: Series sell, so write a series. And make yourself a facebook page.

Terry Shames; So much good advice. One more: Promote other writers whose work you admire. It gives you a chance to get your mind off your own success/failures, and gives you something to talk to readers about.

Les Roberts: When my debut novel appeared (in 1987), it had been named the very first winner of the “Best FIRST Private Eye Novel” contest. I got calls from the L.A. Times,m Los Angeles Magazine, The Washington Post, The N.Y. times and many others, for interviews, photos, etc. So when my second book came out one year later, I sat back and waited for all those publications to call again. I’m still waiting. I can count on my fingers the number of authors whose first books were BLOCKBUSTERS and have remained famous for 30 years or more, and I’d still have a few fingers left over. Writing the book is only HALF the job. The rest of it is marketing, promoting oneself. If you hate that part of the job, start learning to cheerily say “Did you want fries with that?”

Mary Feliz: Get all your promotional ducks in a row as early as possible, and write everything down so that you can do it again for Book 2. All purpose reply to any book feedback, positive or negative, is “Thank you so much!” Don’t feed the trolls. And (hopefully you’ve been doing this all along) GIVE BACK! And don’t be afraid to approach librarians and bookstores to find out how you can help them. Helping them helps you and it turns out they don’t eat authors for breakfast. People in libraries and bookstores actually tend to like books and authors. Fancy that!

Marylee MacDonald: Start an email list so that you can regularly stay in touch with readers. I like ConvertKit and GetResponse. They’re easier than AWeber ànd Mail chimp.

Ramona DeFelice Long: If you want to do public readings, think out of the box. We sold a lot of anthologies at museums and historical sites after readings.

Maureen Milliken: Don’t stop and rest on your laurels. Keep hustling and writing, because that first book wears off fast out there (unless it’s To Kill a Mockingbird)

Mary Harris: “Shameless Promotion for Brazen Hussies,” a Sisters in Crime publication available for $1.99 ebook version. Money well spent! ‪Shameless Promotion for Brazen Hussies by Roberta Isleib, ed. (eBook) – Lulu


Lori Avocato: Contact all kinds of clubs and libraries in your area to do a talk. If your book is about golf, contact the golf clubs. Also, carry business cards everywhere and leave them with your bill in a restaurant and tell everyone you meet that you are a published author–and say, “Here, let me give you one of my cards.” Don’t say “Do you want one!”

Ritter Ames: Spend as many hours per day marketing as you do writing, and that doesn’t mean spending all your marketing time on Facebook–LOL!

Peggy Northrop: A very smart author and PR genius (thank you Beth Feldman ) told me “Every book is a startup” and it’s so true. If your book isn’t getting attention from your publisher, it’s not unusual or personal. The most successful authors keep marketing, speaking, writing blog posts with links to their books, for years. Another friend finally had a bestseller after ten years of promotion. An audience rarely magically “finds” you — you have to introduce yourself.

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8 Responses to 50 Writers Offer Advice to the Newly Published

  1. Great advice from lots of smart people, but I would add a couple of caveats. First, don’t force yourself to do anything in the publicity line that pulls you so far out of your comfort zone that it makes you ill. Find ways to get the word out that you actually enjoy. Second, don’t go overboard on pushing yourself forward to everyone you meet. Some people truly don’t care that you’ve written a book. Let them go on their way in peace. Also, Kate, I like your suggestion to always have a box of each of your books in the trunk of the car. That does, however, present a small problem for me. I don’t think they make a car with trunk space for fifty-five cartons of books.

    • MCWriTers says:

      Ha, Ha, Kaitlyn. I don’t even have room for my sixteen. But this is advice for the first-time published, and hopefully, they WILL have room.

      There is a lot of good advice out there. Staying in your comfort zone is certainly wise. Though lately, my comfort zone is hiding under a chair, from which place, no marketing gets done.


  2. Nupur Tustin says:

    As a newly published author, I found all the tips here very helpful! Thank you so much for sharing this.

  3. Barb Ross says:

    My advice would be relax and enjoy it.

    –My unscientific theory, which I’ve run by many authors and most agree, is no matter what you do in marketing, you can only outrun your book’s appeal to its target audience and your publisher’s existing distribution strength and the power they decide to put behind your book by 10-15%. It’s a game of increments, and it’s not worth making yourself miserable in what should be one of the happiest times of your life.

    –Your book sells your next book, so any time you spend fussing with this stuff as opposed to making your book better is wasted.

  4. Wow, what a great compendium of hard-earned advice. I second what Barb says… And I’d add – Live an interesting life, meet interesting people, have *experiences* because that’s what fuels fiction.

  5. And adding to that, TAKE NOTES!

  6. Really helpful list. Thanks! I’ll share some of this with the SIC Guppies Agents & Publishers group. Discouraged writers post the saddest things and this will help.

  7. sandy neily says:

    Kate! That was great. Thanks to all who shared, proving that generosity is a gift that all of us can give, no matter where we are in the process.

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