Friday, February 16, 2018

Five Tips for Debut Authors

by Shari Randall

I just debuted my first novel, Curses, Boiled Again! It’s the first of the Lobster Shack Mystery Series from St. Martin’s Press. Yes, there is an exclamation point in the title. That’s how my publisher rolls.

As any author who is lucky enough to hold a copy of their book in their hands can tell you, the debut experience has been exciting, wonderful, mystifying, and exhausting. I thought I’d prepared by reading blog after book after blog, and still I went into the whole thing feeling like that toddler at the beach who rushes down the sand to the water and gets knocked down by the wave. It’s fun but, whoa! What just happened?

So, I’m sharing a bit of my experience here to help any other authors anticipating their debut, and I hope other experienced authors will offer advice in the comments. Because I can sure use it.

Some things I learned, from big picture to small, and Why Didn’t I Think of That?

1. Pace yourself. Juggling a signing, a library panel, a Facebook party, and a bunch of blogs in one week taught me my limits. Maybe I’d overestimated my energy level a teensy bit. Especially when I noticed I was doing everything except writing. Schedule lots of fun, but make sure to schedule quiet moments, too.

Donna Andrews, lucky debut author, Sherry Harris

2. Be meticulous about your calendar so nothing falls through the cracks. Nobody warned me that there could be – and there was – a writer's perfect storm. I was doing promo for Book One, edits on Book Two, and writing, sort of, Book Three. Having a calendar devoted just to writing goals and events was a life-saver.

3. Ellen Crosby shared that at a book signing, it’s a good idea to have readers write down on a Post it note the name of the person they want the book inscribed to – that way you avoid potential Kathy, Cathy, Cathie mix ups. She also provided the Post its. Thank you, Ellen!

4. Do not look at your reviews. Well, do what I did and designate a Review Reviewer or Review Buddy. This person (thank you, Charlotte!) scans Goodreads and all those other sites and reports back on when it’s safe to take a look.

5. Two quotes became my mantras. One is from Elizabeth Harris about reviews. “You can have the sweetest peaches in the world, but if someone doesn’t like peaches, they won’t like yours.” My book won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. And that’s okay.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” This quote from Theodore Roosevelt is my mantra as I learn about other author’s sales and reviews. I’m lucky enough to have published a book and held it in my hands, and I've received great reviews and kindnesses from fellow authors. For all that I am so grateful and I can't wait to pay it forward.

Authors, any advice to share for newly published authors?


  1. My advice is to savour every moment. You're only a debut author once!

  2. You're so right, Judy! I'm so glad I have photos from the weekend - it was all a happy blur.

  3. My book doesn't come out until later this year, but my advice already is to find a supportive group of writers who are on the same journey. Whether support, information, or commiseration, having other authors to lean on is invaluable. Plus, it's really exciting to watch their successes!

    1. So true, Jennifer! I feel blessed to have found you and all the Authors 18!


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