Today marks the one year anniversary of the release of A Tree Born Crooked. The past year has been a roller coaster of a ride, with fortunately more highs and lows, and the learning curve has been steep. In honor of my first book’s first birthday, I’m offering a gift of sorts: Steph Post’s New Author Survival Guide! (Also known as a list of things that have kept me off the ledge during this crazy, hectic, exciting, tumultuous and altogether amazing experience). If you’re a recent or soon-to-be debut author, I’m here to give you my humble observations and tips. These are also things that I hope to remember and apply for the rest of my writing career… So, here we go:
Steph’s Survival Guide!
-Make friends and allies with fellow debut authors. They will listen to you and commiserate with you. They will understand what you’re going through.
-Keep your friends close who are NOT authors or writers of any kind. They will listen to you, at first, and they will most likely not understand at all what you are going through. This is good. These friends are essential, as they will not let you whine about all the whiney author things you are going to want to whine about constantly. They will keep you grounded, because they don’t just don’t have time for that. They will remind you that there is more to life than Amazon rankings and Goodreads reviews.
-Don’t become overwhelmed by everything happening in the literary world that you will be bombarded by on social media. Yes, all of your author friends are having readings and going to book festivals and winning awards and making lists and looking super cool ALL THE TIME. Don’t let jealousy or, God forbid, self-pity consume you. Keeping those not-author-friends by your side will definitely help with this.
-Promote and support other authors as much or more than you do yourself and your own work. Yes, your book is awesome and you want the world to know. There are also a ton of other awesome authors out there and they need the world to know about them too. This is also the best way to gain support from your fellow authors and to make connections. Plus, it’s kind. And being kind is badass.
-Don’t be selfish.
-Remember that you are not fighting against your fellow authors for sales, attention or what have you. It’s not author vs. author. It’s authors vs. the world. However you look at it, we need each other.
-Keep in mind that unless you are J.D. Salinger, there are many more books to come for you. All of your hopes and dreams of success do not rest on your first book. Don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself. You’ll have enough going on to stress you out.
-Be considerate of absolutely everyone who supports you. People who are willing to interview you, review your book, re-tweet your promotions, like your incessant Facebook updates and write you personal emails are incredible people. Readers are everything. Always make time for them. Always express your gratitude.
-Read. There is no excuse for a writer not to read. And review. How can you possibly expect people to read and review YOUR book if you are not doing the same?
-Have fun with the publishing experience and remember that it is not just something that you “have to deal with.” No one forced you to publish your book. You most likely spent months, years, who knows how long, trying to get your book published. You’ve now gotten what you wanted. Enjoy it. And don’t take it for granted.
-Work hard. It’s not going to be easy. It shouldn’t be.
-Most importantly, WRITE. Write, write, keep writing. Sure, you’re probably not going to get much done the first few months after your book releases. If anything, you will be too busy, too excited and too exhausted to even think about working on another book. But you have to eventually. You probably didn’t become an author just because you wanted to be published. You became an author because you HAD to write, just as you have to breathe, and then you eventually decided to do something with all that writing. Salinger maybe only had the one novel published, but he never stopped writing. And really, at the end of the day, continuing to write will keep you even more sane than your non-writer friends will.
-And also, keep a puppy nearby. Trust me on this one.
Steph Post is a recipient of the Patricia Cornwell Scholarship for creative writing from Davidson College and the Vereen Bell writing award for fiction. She holds a Master’s degree in Graduate Liberal Studies from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Her short fiction has appeared in Haunted Waters: From the Depths, The Round-Up, The Gambler Mag, Foliate Oak, Kentucky Review, Vending Machine Press, Nonbinary Review and the anthology Stephen King’s Contemporary Classics.
Her short story “The Pallid Mask” has recently been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is a regular contributor to Small Press Book Review and Alternating Current Press and has published numerous book reviews and author interviews. Her first novel, A Tree Born Crooked, was a semi-finalist for The Big Moose Prize and was released in September 2014 by Pandamoon Publishing. She is currently the writing coach at Howard W. Blake High School in Tampa, FL. Visit author’s website at stephpostfiction.com or @StephPostAuthor.
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