Today I’m teaming up with Mari Suggs, fellow author and YouTuber, to talk about some things we regret about our debut novels. Mari is the author of two novels and one non-fiction novel, so once you read my blog post or watch my video, be sure to check out her video as well! Our goal today is to be completely raw and open with you to know what we feel we could have done better so you can learn from our mistakes. Debut novels are tough. It’s our first novel! We didn’t know what we were doing! I think it’s safe to say almost all authors see things they could have fixed about their debut novel, so today we’re going to sit down and talk about it.
Regret #1: Writing So Young
This first regret isn’t so much a regret as something I question a lot. For those who didn’t know, my debut novel, Essence, was published when I was seventeen. For a novel I wrote when I was so young, I think it’s really good. Essence is a novel that’s full of a lot of emotion and sometimes that can be something that’s hard to write when you’re young. While I think I did a good job, there are times I question if maybe I should have waited. I question if maybe I had spent another year editing that maybe some things could have been better. But then again, every writer is their own worst critique and it’s hard to say if our novel is good or not.
Regret #2: Publishing So Young
I also question that even was Essence is amazing, if I should have waited to publish until I was better prepared for the publishing process. There were a lot of things I could have done better to publish my book to help boost sales, but I wasn’t in that mindset when I published Essence. I just wanted to publish it. I didn’t have long terms goals in mind. I work in marketing, so looking back on how I published Essence, part of me is really proud of how much I accomplished at such a young age and the other part of me cringes because I know I could have done so much more.
At the same time, while these are things I think about, I still don’t think I would change publishing Essence when I did, because I fear I may have missed some lessons that I needed to learn if I hadn’t published so young.
Regret #3: Not Cutting Some “Stuff”
This last regret is really my biggest regret. While the first two were things that just pop into my mind, this last one really bothers me. It shouldn’t bother me because it’s just something that someone wrote in one of the reviews of Essence, but it stuck with me. There is one scene in my book where I say “this box is labeled” this and “this box is label” that. It’s a stupid scene and it’s a short scene, but it’s a scene that someone pointed out in a review and ever since I’ve read that review it’s a scene that I really wish I didn’t include in the book. So yes, authors do take your criticism when they read reviews.
And those are my three biggest regrets. If you’ve published a novel, let me know in the comments below what your biggest regret is.
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