Transmissions from a debut author #2: Some Great Advice Re: Debut Anxiety

The other week on Twitter, I asked for advice from seasoned (or at least, more seasoned than me) authors who have experienced the dreaded DEBUT ANXIETY, because I was in the midst of really feeling it.

I got some amazing answers, and want to record them all in one place so I have them to look at whenever it overcomes me next. Also, it might help other debuts who have or are feeling that heart pounding, stomach churning anxious feeling about having their book be in the world.

  1. Pouring yourself into your next book helps

    This was advice given pretty much across the board, and I know it’s not necessarily what some authors (ME) want to hear because writing A Whole New Book is… a lot (but of course needs to happen). It makes sense though — concentrate on writing (which is in your control for the most part)

  2. Finding people who are in the same spot in their journey who you can privately commiserate with helps a lot.

    Join your debut group (if it’s not going to be a source of stress)! Reach out to other authors on Twitter/wherever who are in the same place as you who you can talk to and listen to and support. This has definitely helped me.

  3. Support other others & put positivity back into the book world.

    This is fantastic advice and also helps with #2 - making connections / supporting other authors!


  5. Someone will hate your book AND THAT IS OKAY.

  6. Moderate your expectation and RECOGNIZE that so much of publishing (reviews, lists, etc!) is totally out of your control.

    (This is a hard one for anyone who’s like me (i.e. a control freak) so is definitely smart to start working on as soon into your debut journey as possible.)

  7. Focus on what comes NEXT: launch for family and friends, waiting for finished copies, working on book 2.

  8. Know that the anxiety changes as time passes.

    Julie Buxbaum says that for her, it’s become less a naked vulnerability (the 1st day of middle school!) & more like sending a kid off to college & hoping the world takes care of them & also knowing that the world’s reaction will never match what she imagined good or bad

  9. Divide the seemingly endless list of possible promotion tasks and into “must dos,” “would really like to do,” and “could do if the other items are accomplished and the mood strikes” columns

  10. Set activity goals (things you can control) and check them off on a physical list

  11. Read 1-star reviews of books you loved to remind yourself reading is very subjective and very much about the reader’s life experiences.

  12. Adjust your life because you have a new JOB. Cut other responsibilities. Hire a cleaning service. Etc. Think about each day as either a writing day or admin day. No email on writing days!

  13. Embrace the anxiety AND the excitement and vulnerability. It’s all there, it’s all temporary, and it’s all okay. THIS TOO SHALL PASS and then you’ll miss it.

Thank you to Greg Howard, Rachel Lynn Solomon, Lillian Clark, Kathleen Glasgow, Julie Buxbaum, Jen Malone, Jeff Garvin, Kayla Cagan, Jenn Marie Thorne, Melanie Conklin, Dana Mele, and Crystal Smith!!

Liz Lawson

Over 7 years in the music industry, Liz has worked as a music journalist (Paste Magazine, Tiny Mix Tapes), a music publicist (Orange Twin Records, former home of Neutral Milk Hotel), and now a music supervisor. She started her career working for illustrious music sup's Gary Calamar and Alyson Vidoli, assisting on shows like True Blood, Dexter, and House, and moved on to learn as a music coordinator under Carrie Hughes (The Hills), where she worked on several shows under the Viacom blanket (MTV, CMT, VH1). Never one to rest of her laurels, she managed to scored her own show (Black Ink Crew, VH1) several months later, and soon found a home music sup'ing that show and multiple indie films, including "May the Best Man Win" which premiered at the SXSW Film Festival in 2014 and was directed and written by Andrew O'Connor of Peep Show fame. She's currently branding her business as Vinyl Rules Music Supervision, and is currently music sup'ing Black Ink Crew and well as two indie films: A Light Beneath Their Feet, starring Taryn Manning (Orange is the New Black) and Madison Davenport, (Noah). Zen Dog, starring Kyle Gallner (the upcoming Clint Eastwood picture American Sniper, Veronica Mars) and Clea DuVall (Girl, Interrupted, Argo).