a monster with a bitter venom
How will envy affect my debut experience?
I’d like to tell you how to avoid envying other (debut) authors during your debut year, and I could make a tepid effort by relaying the quote “comparison is the thief of joy,” but the truth is that you will probably experience envy at times during this process, and it will be painful. You will envy people who get bigger advances and print runs, who get smaller prints runs that are easier to “earn out,” who get more promo, who go on tours, who get to avoid touring and spend more time writing, who get better reviews, who get more followers on social media, who get on award lists, who rub elbows with other authors, who get on bestseller lists, who get to avoid the pressure of high expectations, who get new book deals, who get more or fewer deadlines, who have cuter pets, who look good in hats… “Oh, I’m not petty in that way. I shall eschew envy AND endeavor to look good in hats.” Wonderful! More power to you. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
How can I kill the envy monster?
Does the advice “keep your eyes on your paper” help? No, I didn’t think so. It’s pretty hard not to compare yourself to your peers, no matter how hard you try. Even if you try to avoid everyone else’s announcements, some well-meaning person will probably get the info to you anyway. But here are my top tips for minimizing envy: 1) When you are going through a tough situation, like dealing with a harsh review of your book, minimize your exposure to other writers’ good news by spending less time online; you can come back and join their celebrations at a better time for you. 2) Remind yourself to take a long view: your debut novel is only ONE book, and you will have other opportunities to enjoy whatever it is that you are currently missing out on in publishing. 3) Cultivate interests outside of publishing so that you can bury yourself in those interests when you need an escape from the publishing process. 4) Make friends with other writers, especially debut writers; it’s much harder to envy people you truly care about, and with any luck you will actually enjoy helping them promote their books and celebrate their successes. 5) Take joy in writing a new manuscript; writing is a truer source of joy than is publishing, anyway,