A wee bit of advice from the Cracker Queen Road Tour...
-Be nice and humble. Whether you sell one-thousand or one-million copies, having a book with your name on it does not give you permission to be an ass.
-Don’t get hung up on your sales numbers. That’s the publisher’s job. Do whatever you can to promote sales, but remember that authoring a book will bring so many other good things your way—things you can’t even imagine now—things that will happen for years to come. Your story is eternal.
-Support other writers, especially those who need mentoring, practical help, and encouragement. I love it that Pat Conroy, the Elvis of Southern Literature, is so gracious and generous to fellow writers. My mentor, Terry Kay, is just as kind. We should strive to be like them.
-When you’re feeling jealous about another writer’s success, remember that the marketplace is large enough for all of us. We’re all part of the same tribe. When one does well, we all do well.
-Don’t give yourself away. You won’t believe how often you’ll be asked to do events for free. I get emails like this:
We’d be so honored if you could talk to our high school seniors here in Peoria this spring. We can’t provide an honorarium or travel reimbursement, but the head of our English Department has a spare room and an amazing recipe for veggie lasagna (we know that you’re a vegetarian).
It would mean so much to the kids if you would say yes.
The Cracker Queen says HELL NO. I didn’t learn this lesson until a year after my book came out. I was so eager and excited and new at the author business that I said yes to anything I could possibly do. Some gigs ended up being worth it while dozens of others did not. Be strategic in what you do. I’ll always do some free gigs, especially for causes that are dear, but I’ve gotten smarter in selecting them--and dismissing others. Our work is devalued by society already; let's not contribute further to that mindset.
-Guard and enforce your writing time. It will be easy to get caught up in the new life your book will bring. I spent far too much time promoting my book in the first year and fell behind in my writing. I won’t ever do that again.
-Remember that you’re building a career that will reach beyond your first book. Much of the rules of kindergarten apply: be considerate, show up when you’re supposed to, and practice the Golden Rule.
Now go forth and make the tribe proud!
Lauretta Hannon riffs on writing here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qm6KXKbopzY&feature=youtube_gdata and is the author of The Cracker Queen—A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life, named one of the Top Twenty-Five Books All Georgians Should Read. Lauretta supports fellow writers through her Down Home Writing School. More info at thecrackerqueen.com.