The year was 2017. Debut author Therese Beharrie releases her first book into the wild…
Of course I’m joking with this. I’m not going to be referring to myself in the third person in this post. It was only meant to show you how incredibly dramatic I can be. Because it does not feel like my first book came out this year. Sure, it was released in January, which is almost a year ago now (!). But that’s not why it feels like such a long time ago. No, it feels that way because I’ve learnt so much since my debut was released. And these lessons have taught me to be passionate about supporting debut authors. Because…
One: The industry is scary
Publishing is scary. Writing is scary. The nature of it is putting your hard work out into the world and having people judge it. It’s especially scary when you’re new, and still finding your feet as an author and as a businessperson. You’re not necessarily thinking about creating with intention. Or about developing a brand. You’re just thinking about creating. And with this came my first lessons:
Lesson 1: Be kind to debut authors. They’re still figuring things out.
Lesson 2: Give them the space and support they need to figure out what kind of author they’d like to be.
Two: People won’t care that it’s your debut
It sounds harsh, but unfortunately, it’s true. Unless you’ve built up your tribe before you’re published – which can happen, though rarely – chances are people aren’t going to care that a) it’s your debut book, or b) it’s the first book you’ve released. And reviewers and readers might not give you a chance again after reading your debut. This brought me to my next lessons:
Lesson 3: Try to care about people’s debuts.
Lesson 4: Give debut authors a chance. Preferably more than one.
Three: Not everyone is going to leave reviews. And not all reviews are going to be positive.
You might send ARCs to bloggers who never post their reviews. Or you might have readers telling you they loved your book on social media, but they don’t leave reviews. Sometimes, the people who do leave reviews leave nasty ones. Ones that are, for some reason, easier to believe than the good ones. And hence lessons 5 and 6:
Lesson 5: Leave reviews.
Lesson 6: Find something constructive to say. There must have been one thing you liked about the book. Of course, be honest. But try to be constructive and encouraging, too.
These lessons are based on my experiences, which are by no means universal. I’ve seen many authors who’ve had successful debuts. I’ve engaged with many authors who might not have needed me to be passionate about their debuts. But there are those who can’t say this. And using my discretion, I’m going to continue living according to these lessons in hopes that it reaches those people.
I hope you do, too!