7.3 THE DEBUT YEAR: MAZ EVANS
It’s here! It’s finally happened! You are…
A PUBLISHED AUTHOR!!!
Have you any idea how few people on this planet will ever get to say that? And now you’re one of them! And the best part? THEY CAN NEVER TAKE IT AWAY!!!
An author’s first year in publishing is exciting, proud and miraculous. But full disclosure – it can also be overwhelming, tough and disappointing. No two writing journeys are the same and here’s hoping that you sail through yours with nothing but awards and accolades galore. But if you don’t, you are in excellent company!
It’s a marathon, not a sprint
No matter how stellar your debut, building a career in publishing is a slow burn. Some fly out of the gates, others build slowly over time, many sit between the two. The rewards can be slow to come – hold your soul in patience, as you have had to with so much of this journey.
An obvious point you’d think, but you meet the same folk on the way up as you do on the way down in this biz. Lots of people are working with you – treat them all with the respect you are entitled to receive. And think very carefully about your social media presence. Do whatever your conscience needs to do – but be mindful that you are now in the public eye and lots more people are watching.
Learn the power of no
You’ve waited so long for this, the temptation to agree to every single event/signing/request etc can be very tempting. You want to please people and you don’t want this all to go away tomorrow, which is the secret fear of nearly every writer I know, present company massively included. But marshal your resources – especially where free work is concerned. Everything you do should work for you – be it financially, promotionally or charitably. Burn out is very real in this first year. Be on your guard.
Sometimes it just sucks
It really does. You got a crappy review. You didn’t get nominated for an award. Your sales aren’t what you’d hoped. [Insert other millions of publishing disappointments here.] I’m not gonna lie, friend – this road is littered with potholes and some days you wonder why on Earth you bothered. They do come – but they also go. Learn to weather the bad ones – the good ones are rarely far behind.
No money, no money, no money
The financial realities of being an author are a horrible shock to most debut writers and still a lamentable inequality in this business. We make so little from our work and the expectation to work for free – while improving – is still very real and very dangerous. But there are other opportunities to make money that are adjacent to your writing career (see my other articles on these very points!) Treat your writing career like a business. Because that’s what it is.
Stay in your lane
I cannot proffer, nor need, this advice strongly enough. If you spend your career watching other people’s, you will give yourself whiplash. It can feel like everyone is doing better than you – more or better reviews, prizes, sales figures, followers on Twitter, ranking on Amazon… whatever your particular neurosis is (and you’ll almost certainly have one), comparing yourself to everyone else will drive you crazy. You do you. It’s the only way to stay sane.
Take it back to the page
This is probably my most important piece of advice. No matter what you need to do to promote and monetise your books, at the end of the day it is all about the quality of the words you write, so make sure they remain your priority. Look after yourself and leave enough in the tank to make sure that you keep turning in your very best work. Because when all is said and done, that is the most important thing we can all do. And that’s why we’re here to do it.
Maz’s debut children’s novel Who Let the Gods Out was published by Chicken House in February 2017 and was selected as the Waterstone’s Children’s Book of the Month. It entered the bestseller charts on its first week on sale, has sold to 18 countries worldwide and has received over 20 award nominations, including the Carnegie Medal, Branford Boase, Books Are My Bag and Waterstone’s Children’s Book of the Year.
The sequel, Simply the Quest was published in August 2017, Beyond the Odyssey in April 2018 and Against All Gods in February 2019. Maz also narrates the audiobooks for the series.
Her acclaimed creative writing events have featured at Hay, Imagine, Edinburgh, Bath, Cheltenham, Latitude, Wilderness and many other literary festivals and primary schools around the UK.
Maz began her career as a TV journalist, critiquing for The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The Sun, and TV Times magazine and she still regularly broadcasts her views on anything from politics to parenthood on BBC Radio 2, BBC News, BBC Radio 4, Five Live and the bus. Maz has participated in the Casualty and Holby City BBC shadow schemes and her children’s poetry has been published in Caterpillar magazine.
Maz is much in demand as a comedy book and lyrics writer for the stage. Her original musical H. R. HAITCH, with composer Luke Bateman, was produced by Iris Theatre at the Union Theatre, London in 2018. She has previously had shows produced at the Actors’ Church Covent Garden, Southend Palace Theatre and Bryanston Arts Centre. Her cabaret songs are regularly performed in the West End and beyond.
As a songwriter, Maz has won the Iris Theatre Work in Process songwriting award three years in succession (with composer Luke Bateman). As a scriptwriter, she won thescriptwriter.co.uk scriptwriting competition and a place in Philip Shelley’s Advanced Mentoring Lab at the London Screenwriters’ Festival. She was also shortlisted for the BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum and the Scriptangel contest. As an author, she has won the hearts of thousands of children and as a nuclear physicist, she has been completely rubbish.
Maz also runs our MG Mentoring course.