Anonymous Author

A diverse array of authors share their advice for those just entering the publishing industry

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When I began my career as an author, I knew nothing of the book publishing world. I was educated on the fly, through observation, conversations with more experienced authors, advice from my agent or publisher, and often by trial and error — mostly error.

Over time, the landscape made more sense — but only after a lot of hard-won lessons. The publishing industry can be very opaque. This series is an attempt to shed some light on it.

I’ve gathered advice from dozens of authors, across many genres. Some are are bestsellers with multiple books. Some have had their work adapted into film and TV. Others have been integral parts of the publishing industry, and have tracked its evolution over the years.

My hope is that the advice here, and in forthcoming columns, will serve as a resource for authors starting out.

A note on anonymity: All of the advice here is from authors I know and trust. Nearly to a man, they wished to speak anonymously, so they could discuss tricky topics freely.


Financial acuity is an essential skill if you plan to make a living, even a partial living, as an author. One author advises further education:

Advance payments are more complicated than one might realize. One author took the time to break it down:


How many times have we seen social media kerfuffles? They happen in all industries, and they rarely end well. Here’s a few bits of advice to remember:

And some ideas for where you can share your frustrations, if they aren’t appropriate for social media:


It’s not all kumbaya in publishing. Here’s what the authors have to say on it:

And on balancing the dream with your own self-worth:

Here’s a lesson many of us have learned the hard way:


To wrap up this column, let’s look at advice about interpersonal relationships in publishing, with fellow authors and readers.

It’s always better to lift authors up, not tear them down behind their backs. To that end:

And if you’re lost and confused, one author advises;

Another bit of advice — and one to live by:


If you have readers, congratulations — it’s a great achievement! But with readership comes responsibility. From an author who has successfully traversed these tricky waters:

A big thanks to all the authors who contributed, and thank you to everyone who read. I will have more Anonymous Author posts in the coming weeks, with advice about how to treat your time, valuing your own work, and the type of people to find as a support network. Until then, happy writing!

Written by

Writer. Musichead. Book Junkie. Sock Aficionada. #1 NYT Bestseller. My books have long titles. A SKY BEYOND THE STORM out 12/1/2020.

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