I loved this BuzzFeed list (by Curtis Sittenfeld) so much that I had to include it here, along with my thoughts.
1. When it comes to fellow writers, don’t buy into the narcissism of small differences. In all their neurotic, competitive, smart, funny glory, other writers are your friends. <— It’s really true. Writers get each other, even the super hermit-y ones. We had each other at hello.
2. Unless you’re Stephen King, or you’re standing inside your own publishing house, assume that nobody you meet has ever heard of you or your books. If they have, you can be pleasantly surprised. <— I would consider my life complete if I met someone who had heard of my book. Like, I could die right there on the spot and be happy.
3. At a reading, 25 audience members and 20 chairs is better than 200 audience members and 600 chairs. <— Um, yes, the idea of empty chairs sounds terrifying. Actually, the idea of a reading sounds terrifying.
4. There are very different ways people can ask a published writer for the same favor. Polite, succinct, and preemptively letting you off the hook is most effective. <— Nobody has asked me for any favors yet. Well, my sister asked to borrow a suitcase the other day, but I don’t think that had anything to do with me being a writer.
5. Blurbs achieve almost nothing, everyone in publishing knows it, and everyone in publishing hates them. <— Good, because I don’t know anyone who would want to blurb me.
5a. “Blurb” is a verb in the publishing world.
6. But a really good blurb from the right person can, occasionally, make a book take off. <— Damn it.
7. When your book is on best-seller lists, people find you more amusing and respond to your emails faster. <— I’d probably find myself more amusing if I was on best-seller lists too.
8. When your book isn’t on best-seller lists, your life is calmer and you have more time to write. <— This sounds good to me, as long as my publisher doesn’t cut me loose because I’m not on best-seller lists.
9. The older you are when your first book is published, the less gratuitous resentment will be directed at you. <— See, it’s good nobody wanted to publish my stuff when I was 23. Oh hindsight, you give me such comfort!
10. The goal is not to be a media darling; the goal is to have a career. <— Word. When I signed with my publisher, I actually said, “My goal is to have a career.” The term “media darling” makes me want to hurl. Actually, just the term “darling” makes me want to hurl.
11. The farther you live from New York, the less preoccupied you’ll be with literary gossip. Like cayenne pepper, literary gossip is tastiest in small doses. <— Phew. I’m as far away from NY as I can get without crossing an ocean.
12. Contrary to stereotype, most book publicists aren’t fast-talking, vapid manipulators; they’re usually warm, organized youngish women (yes, they are almost all women) who love to read. <— That’s a relief. I don’t know who my publicist is yet. Hopefully she’s okay with me doing these types of blog posts about how I don’t really know what I’m doing with this publishing thing. Am I supposed to act like I know what I’m doing? I’m going to shut up now.
13. Female writers are asked more frequently about all of the following topics than male writers: whether their work is autobiographical; whether their characters are likable; whether their unlikable characters are unlikable on purpose or the writer didn’t realize what she was doing; how they manage to write after having children. <— Wait, people are going to ask me shit?
14. If you tell readers a book is autobiographical, they will try to find ways it isn’t. If you tell them it’s not autobiographical, they will try to find ways it is. <— That’s fine. I will remain shrouded in mystery.
15. It’s not your responsibility to convince people who don’t like your books that they should. Taste is subjective, and you’re not running for elected office. <— I haven’t even convinced myself yet that my book is good, so to all my future critics: I feel you.
16. By not being active on social media, you’re probably shooting yourself in the foot. That said, faking fluency with or interest in forms of social media that don’t do it for you is much harder than making up dialogue for imaginary characters. <— I genuinely like Facebook. I still think Twitter sounds like a drug withdrawal symptom. I’m giving it the ol’ college try though.
17. If someone asks what you do and you don’t feel like getting into it, insert the word freelance before the word writer, and they will inquire about nothing more. <— I have a day job so I don’t have to explain to people that I’m a novelist. The barrage of questions that follows such a declaration is unbearable.
18. If you read a truly great new book and feel more excited than jealous, congratulations, you’re a writer. <— I’m not really the jealous type. However, my husband has long, beautiful lashes that he doesn’t appreciate and that makes me envious and angry.
19. Fiercely, fiercely, fiercely protect your writing time. <— I do, much to the chagrin of people who want me to have a social life with them.
20. It’s OK to let your book be published if you can see its flaws but don’t know how to fix them. Don’t let your book be published if it still contains flaws that are fixable, even if fixing them is a lot of work. <— I’ve been through one heavy duty editing round that involved admitting there were flaws to fix. I didn’t want to see them because I’m lazy. They are fixed. I’m getting my final edits from my publisher soon. I’m hoping for minimal remaining flaws.
21. Talking about how brutally difficult it is to write books is unseemly. Unless you’re the kind of writer who’s been imprisoned by the dictatorship where you live and is being advocated for by PEN American Center, give it a rest. <— I don’t really think writing a book is hard. Maybe it seems hard to a non-writer, but that’s irrelevant because they are not writing. Like, fixing my transmission sounds hard because I’m not a mechanic. There are certain things in life that are unarguably hard. Living below the poverty line. Chemotherapy. Tying a cherry stem with your tongue. Writing is, ultimately, a joy. Or it should be. Yes, it’s a huge commitment and there are frustrations along the way (especially when you get to the publishing stage), but all those frustrations are mostly issues with the ego. I have a NEED to write, so one could argue that writing is just a selfish indulgence for me. Books are just a product of that need and indulgence. So, yeah, I don’t think writing is hard. Is it unseemly to say that?
22. Books bring information, provocation, entertainment, and comfort to many people. You’re lucky to be part of that. <— That’s very true, and that’s why it’s been a dream of mine to publish books. It’s one thing to write them, another thing to share them.
23. Sometimes good books sell well; sometimes good books sell poorly; sometimes bad books sell well; sometimes bad books sell poorly. A lot about publishing is unfair and inscrutable. But… <— Sigh…
24. …you don’t need anyone else’s approval or permission to enjoy the magic of writing — of sitting by yourself, figuring out which words should go together to express whatever it is you’re trying to say. <— Well, yes. Ultimately, that’s what it’s all about.