Guestpost #49: Caitlin Kelly – Ten things I’ve learned from being an author

I don’t know Caitlin personally, but I was honoured when she submitted a guestpost. She is an accomplished author and blogger. Caitlin Kelly’s new memoir, “Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail” (Portfolio/Penguin) was called “excellent” by Entertainment Weekly and compared to “Nickeled and Dimed.” Her first book is, “Blown Away: American Women and Guns” (Pocket Books, 2004). A Toronto native, she has lived in Tarrytown, NY since 1989 and blogs at

  1. Re-define “success” – want to win awards or have your book become a Major Motion Picture or make the best-seller list? Me, too! But 99.9% of us never will. If people you’ve never met are reading and loving your work, you’re successful.
  2. Place your ego in a lead-lined box. Keep it there – reviewers can be rough. You can’t control what people will say about your work, or you.
  3. Ditch your expectations – authors get book tours, right? Invited to schmooze with Colbert and Jon Stewart? With 1,500 books published the same day as yours, be grateful for any attention.
  4. Book’s done – time to relax! – you wish. You’ll spend many unpaid hours every day, from the minute your manuscript is accepted for publication for many months after publication date, promoting it.
  5. It’s expensive – prepare to bleed cash building and maintaining a website, advertising, and buying business cards postcards, or posters; whatever it takes.
  6. Envy is endemic – how did that awful book get a NYT review? While you gnash your teeth in frustration, others are undoubtedly watching your success and rending their garments in fury.
  7. It’s a rollercoaster ride – the thrill of publication is followed by the sobering stats of your sales figures, rave reviews sometimes outnumbered by savage ones. Get plenty of sleep and don’t obsess about any of it.
  8. Bookstore staff are your new best friends – I was exhausted from a day of interviews, travel and little sleep when I arrived in D.C. last week to do media interviews there, but spent a half hour chatting with an associate, signing my books and getting to know the manager. Their enthusiasm can really help sell books.
  9. Getting a book from your head into a bookstore is a team sport – take very good care of your team-mates: your agent and assistant(s); your publisher’s publicist and assistants; your editor and assistants; the copy editor, and your own assistants or researchers.
  10. Savor your success – thousands of people now see, and admire, you as An Author. You are. You’ve earned it. Enjoy!


Filed under tenthingsivelearned, Uncategorized

5 responses to “Guestpost #49: Caitlin Kelly – Ten things I’ve learned from being an author

  1. I am wondering why writers need postcards and business cards.

  2. This is my favourite post so far because it deals with my own goals. As for 6, I generally am ok with the some of the terrible writing I see out there, because that says to me that it’s actually pretty easy to get published.

  3. Thanks!

    I am OK with terrible writing — but not if it gets reviewed or on the best-seller list and I don’t.

    Can we say “Chelsea Handler”?!

  4. And, really, is there any other kind?

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