Wednesday, January 4, 2012

It's Your First Book - Don't Expect Miracles

If you ask any author, the best book they ever wrote was their first one. It was their baby. This book is the one they slaved over for all of those years. The poored all of their life and soul into it. But, for many of those authors, that first book is still not published. It might still be on that book shelf waiting for the right time.

But, there is another angle to this that I want to talk about. That first book you wrote also came with a hidden agenda that is tainting the way many authors see the publishing world and their careers. Because that book was so amazing in their heads, they start to believe that EVERYTHING amazing that could happen to a book is expected for their first book. These authors start making comparisons to other books and other authors that are simply unfair analogies. Examples of this include:
* Expecting advances equal to other authors with that first book
* Expecting to negotiate deals that are really big.
* Expecting book sales to be through the roof,
* Expecting stalkers and the Today show to highlight the troubles of this new author.
* Expecting Oprah to put their book on the cover of O Magazine.

I think you get the idea.

Please understand that publishing, like everything else in the world, takes time to be successful. You have to start from the ground up and you have to "pay your dues." You have to work to get to that success level.

Please also remember that the authors you hear making immediate success with that first book are "exceptions to the rule." Yes, it is good to dream that your book may be one of those exceptions, but, I am sorry to say this, it will only remain a dream,

Please also remember that comparing your sales, book deals, advances and dreams to the authors that have been around for 30 years is a fallacy.

There is simply no easy route to being successful in publishing or any other career. There are no short cuts and there will be struggles.

As you dive into 2012, and you start to make those resolutions and plans, remember to keep at least one foot on the ground.



  1. Ah, Scott--a much-needed reality check :) Thanks for that!

  2. I'll just be happy if that first book gets me an agent and a publishing deal, since it is the one I like best so far! (My fourth gives it some competition, though, so I guess the world won't end if things don't work out with the first book.)

  3. Such wonderful, solid advice. It's so easy to get sucked into comparing yourself to others. But there is no one way to write, one way to get a deal, one road that everyone follows, so comparing makes no sense and wastes energy. Thanks for the reminder.

  4. I kind of look at my first book the way I do a first child. You love it, pour your heart and soul into it and agonize over every small hiccup. Then you have a second, third or fourth child. You've learned so much from the first, that you are much more realistic, grounded and less stressed out over every little detail. By the time you have your last child, they could practically cut off a finger and you'd call it a scratch. You don't love them any less, you just know they'll live and know how to handle it better. I'm a first child of four, so believe me, I know. Man, what I had to go through that my younger siblings didn't! :)