Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Crazy Author Debut Brain

This week on the blog we’re talking about the most difficult phase of publishing we’ve encountered so far. I think it’s safe to say that anyone who pays even a little bit of attention to the publishing world knows debut authors go through a rollercoaster of excitement and nerves and elation and disappointment. Sometimes all in the same week!

I consider myself pretty lucky. I’ve had a lot more excitement than disappointment in the ten months since my books sold. But I can tell you, without hesitation, what the hardest part has been:


Yes, me. I call it “Crazy Author Debut Brain,” and it’s the part of me that freaks out about things I should not be freaking out over. The part of me that clicks on that article or blog post that I can tell will make me panic.

Now, there are definitely people out there helping out my Crazy Author Debut Brain. They are the ones writing the articles, or posting angry tweets, or taking to their blogs to freak out. They’re the Publishing Doomsdayers.

Now, if you’re a normal person, you kind of look at Publishing Doomsdayers with a puzzled expression and take a giant step back. BUT, if you have Crazy Author Debut Brain, you immediately take all this negativity and translate it into something EVEN WORSE.

Let’s look at some examples.

1. Doomsdayer: “It’s harder to stay published than to get published. Most debut authors won’t publish another book.”

Crazy Author Debut Brain: “Wow, congratulations on those years of hard work that got you published! It’s a fluke. You’ll never do it again. No matter how bad you want it.”

2. Doomsdayer: "Unless you were given a very large advance, you will probably get zero marketing."

Crazy Author Debut Brain: “Haha! You thought your publisher liked your book but actually they hate it and no one will even know it came out! Haha!”

3. Doomsdayer: "If you got a large advance, expectations for your book are really high and you probably won’t be able to earn out."

Crazy Author Debut Brain: “Unless you have huge buzz, fantastic reviews, and debut on the NY Times Bestseller list, you’re a failure and you’ll never publish another book again.”

4. Doomsdayer: "Publishers merging could be very, very bad for authors."

Crazy Author Debut Brain: “It will be impossible to get published in the future. In fact, best to give up. Publishing is basically over.”

But let’s be honest here. None of that negativity I have going on in my brain is true. Sure, all of the above Doomsdayer statements might have some truth to them, but every author's experience is different. Making broad statements about "what always happens" just doesn't work.

So sometimes I try and put away my Crazy Author Debut Brain and be logical:

1. Sure, some people only publish one book. But if you really really want to stay published, then keep writing. Even if you get rejected (like many of us were before our debuts were picked up), just keep writing. Maybe it’s not harder. Maybe it’s just a different type of hard

2. It’s true that bigger advances get more marketing, but your publisher WANTS your book to do well. You may have to do a lot of marketing yourself, but that’s true of pretty much all authors these days. 

3. Yes, a higher advance means higher sale expectations. But very few authors debut on the NY Times Bestseller list with their first book. Very few get HUGE buzz. And “earning out” isn’t the only thing publishers take into consideration when looking at your next book. 

4. We can’t predict the future and what the mergers mean for authors. But I do know this: People are still reading. Maybe how they read will change, and maybe the number of publishers will change, but as long as people want books there will be writers.

So, my advice to myself (and to all those Publishing Doomsdayers) is this: Calm down. Enjoy where you are and try not to stress about the future.

Amy Tintera is a full-time writer living in Los Angeles, CA. HarperTeen will publish her debut novel, REBOOT, May 7, 2013. Visit her website and blog: amytintera.com or follow her on Twitter: @amytintera


  1. Yes to this! Well said, Amy, on every point.

  2. How may I virtually hug you right now? This calmed down my own crazy author brain. Thank you!!

    1. I will take that virtual hug, Karen! I'm glad I'm not alone in my craziness. :)