How to Survive Authorhood

I had a weird sort of slump for the past month and spent a lot of time refilling the well, so to speak. And out of those many odd hours of doing random crap just to pass the time, I spent one or two reflecting on the lessons I’ve learned as a writer. Now, I’ve only been officially published for ten months. I know I still have a lot to learn…and these lessons aren’t even that serious, even though they’re mostly true. But above all else, I’ve learned that in the world of publishing, just as in any other endeavor, there will be ups and downs and, in the end, those peaks and valleys make for a much more fulfilling ride. So…

…here it is, my list of lessons learned, entitled How to Survive Authorhood.

Lesson 1: Don’t compare yourself to other authors.

Comparing yourself to others is a recipe for unhappiness. Sometimes you’ll be on top. Sometimes you…won’t. But your success as an author isn’t actually a reflection of your value as a human being. So don’t do it. Don’t compare. Just be you.

Lesson 2: For the most part, editors are your friends.

Sometimes it might not feel that way, but–again, for the most part–editors really do want you to succeed. They really are trying to help you. They really are your friends, at least in the professional sense (just go with it). So don’t abuse them.

Of course, there will also be editors you don’t get along with. There will be fellow authors you don’t get along with. Hell. There will be readers you don’t get along with.

But the world of publishing, and especially romance publishing, is tiny, which brings us to:

Lesson 3: Don’t be an ass.


Lesson 4: Don’t be a pushover, either.

Sometimes, you’ll be asked to do things to and with your book that make you uncomfortable. Sometimes, those things are for the best, and you should totes break out of your comfort zone. But other times, they’re wrong wrong wrong and you should Just Say No and go do whatever you feel like you wanna do.

The thing is, writing is a difficult, unpleasant, and lonely job. It can consume you if you’re not careful, so…

Lesson 5: Make sure to prioritize things so that you have time off to do something every day other than watch your soul bleed out of your fingers write.

Speaking of feeling murderous…

Lesson 6: Don’t read your reviews. Especially if you think there is any chance at all that you might respond to, comment on, or feel any less valuable as a human being (see item 1) if you read a review that is less than stellar.

This is not new advice. Many, many authors before me have said this. There is legitimacy to this suggestion. And with any luck, you will have so many reviews that you won’t even have time to read all of them. But in the meantime…back away from Goodreads, y’all. Go have a cup of coffee and chillax. Mmm, coffee.

Lesson 7: Coffee will become your mascot.

It doesn’t even matter if you don’t like coffee. If someone offers you a cup when you’re on deadline, you will stop what you are doing and drink it at any moment during the day and night. You will be excited to go to sleep at night simply because it means that you can wake up and have coffee again in the morning.

Lesson 8: You won’t make any money.

At least not at the beginning. Or maybe even ever. Sorry.

But you know what? A lot of other authors are in the same boat. And what’s great about Romancelandia is that it is full of smart women who are capable and wonderful and interesting and so many other great things!

There will be many whom you look up to and adore and fangirl all over at conferences. And without being creepy…

Lesson 9: Go ahead and tell them that they’re fab. Don’t hold back your kindnesses.

Because when it’s your turn…when you get a “good job” note from your publisher, an “I like you” message from an author you respect and admire, or fan mail from a reader, you feel like a fucking boss.

Lesson 10: Save those messages. Come back to them.

You will need them, even on good days, because they mean you’ve touched someone with your words. It means that your work meant something good for a fellow human being. And even though the success of your work doesn’t dictate your value as a person, it still feels really, really good.

And with any luck, you won’t just survive. You’ll thrive.

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13 Responses to How to Survive Authorhood

  1. I often think how great it will be to sleep so I can have coffee in the morning. LOL.

    • Audra North says:

      It’s so good. I’ve upped my consumption to three shots of espresso per day, which doesn’t seem to be working anymore. But I’m scared of drinking even more!

  2. “Don’t hold back your kindnesses.” Love this. Words to live by in every arena of life.

  3. Darlin, you definitely practice what your preach, because you are just about the kindest human I know.


    Thanks for the Ms. Perky gif. She is my sunshine.

  4. Fabulous advice. Made me laugh and nod–and want more coffee. Some serious gourmet shit, of course.

    • Audra North says:

      Of course! Gourmet is the only way to go. My husband drinks instant coffee and it drives me crazy!

      • Audra, mine read somewhere that Starbuck’s instant was really good. He started in on me about how much simpler life would be without the drip maker and the filters and coffee grinder. I said, all right. Fine. I’ll try it. But then he tried it first. Hah! End of that discussion. :D

  5. I think I needed this today. I’ve been a little obsess-y with the comparing and especially with some of the ratings I’ve seen on Goodreads. *backing away, as recommended*

    • Audra North says:

      Yeah, it’s often a downward spiral. I tend to ignore every vendor site and GR on release day, especially, b/c that’s when all the reviews show up. I go out for ice cream or something with my kids and pretend it never happened. :)