What Vices Should New Authors Watch Out For? David Almond, Patrick Ness, Neil Gaiman and Lemony Snicket Answer The Question

A mild disclaimer: None of these answers were given specifically to be published - by which I mean the authors didn't know what I was going to do with the info. They're mostly spur of the moment, off hand replies, and not official or binding or, necessarily, true. They were all given in public forums, though, so I have no problem collecting them here. And they were all given as answers to my question - they're not just ripped out of context from other interviews. So, do with them as you will.

Being an author seems to be a process - unlike being a writer. In general I would say that if you want to be a writer, you write things - and that's the only real qualification there is. Being an author does seem to be slightly more defined - an author writes books, gets them published, and people (hopefully) read them. It's a process. There's people who want-to-be-an-author-but-don't-know-how, or are too-scared-to-try, and then there's making-it-as-an-author, and even holy-heck-I-got-a-book-deal. And from there, soon to be published author, debut author, new author, etc.

All authors. All writers.

My first book, Eren, is coming out next year, and I'm thinking more and more about what it will be like to go through that. Scary, I think. Magical, too. Odd and fantastic and probably a tiny bit dream-like.

There might be things to watch out for, too. In the spirit of learning from your betters and those who've gone before, then, I asked four fantastically brilliant, fantastically successful children's authors one question, to see what they would say.

The question was this: What vices would you warn a new author about in their first year of publishing?

And here are the answers from David Almond, Lemony Snicket, Patrick Ness, and Neil Gaiman:

David Almond: Vices: moaning about obstacles, time, other authors; researching the market. Avoiding the simple task - sit, be brave, and write.

Patrick Ness: [Do] act like a pro, be generous to everybody, and write thank you notes. Seriously. [As for vices],  people's opinions of a book, good or bad, never change the book. It's always yours, forever ... so don't get the vice of living or dying by all the words on the web that will be about you. It's interesting but the book stays the book.

Neil Gaiman: Barratry on the high seas. You can find yourself swinging from the yardarm, and this never ends happily.

Lemony Snicket: Searching for one's self on the Internet, the 21st Century's least-interesting vice.

Good answers, right? A mixed bunch indeed. I had to look up barratry in the dictionary, which probably shows that Gaiman's doing his job well. Is there an overall theme? Probably that writers should keep writing, stop worrying, and be far less interested in the Internet than in their own words.

It's not the first time I've heard that.

And now, I'm going to take that advice, and finish this post up, and go write things down.


Are you a writer? What one piece of advice would you give to fellow scribes?


  1. This was excellent. I really appreciated this post. Thanks Simon! :)