Aimee Bender’s 5 Pieces of Advice for Debut Authors

Since we’re sharing advice from veteran authors this week at The Ball, I reached out to one of my favorite writers, Aimee Bender. I’ve always been in awe of her work; the way she blends the real with the fantastical and makes poetry out of simple, powerful truths leaves me struck by her stories long after I’ve finished reading them. It’s such an honor to welcome her to the blog today. Thank you, Aimee, for sharing with us. 

5 Pieces of Advice for Debut Authors from Aimee Bender
1. Most importantly: be wary of all advice. This is your writing. Your internal workings. It is ultimately up to you to figure out what fits you.
2. Write what you enjoy writing.
3. Don’t think about the marketplace.
4. When you read something about writing or when a writer talks about writing and it makes you feel bad, ignore it. Better still—be mad about it.
5. Find readers who are both honest and supportive. I find both traits are equally important.
cover_color_master AimeeBender
Aimee Bender is the author of five books: The Girl in the Flammable Skirt (1998) which was a NY Times Notable Book, An Invisible Sign of My Own (2000) which was an L.A. Times pick of the year, Willful Creatures(2005) which was nominated byThe Believer as one of the best books of the year, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (2010) which recently won the SCIBA award for best fiction, and an Alex Award, and The Color Master, just released in August 2013.

Her short fiction has been published in Granta, GQ, Harper’s, Tin House, McSweeney’s, The Paris Review, and many more places, as well as heard on PRI’s This American Life and Selected Shorts. She has received two Pushcart prizes, was nominated for the TipTree award in 2005, and the Shirley Jackson short story award in 2010. Her fiction has been translated into sixteen languages.

She lives in Los Angeles, where she teaches creative writing at USC.

Author: Natalia Sylvester

Natalia Sylvester is the author of the novel CHASING THE SUN (Lake Union/New Harvest, June 2014), about a frail marriage tested to the extreme by the wife's kidnapping in Lima, Peru. A former magazine editor, she now works as a freelance writer in Texas. Visit her online at

9 Replies to “Aimee Bender’s 5 Pieces of Advice for Debut Authors”

  1. Welcome, Amy! I think #1 is so true. If there’s anything I’ve learned in the process of writing and publishing my debut novel, it’s that there’s no single, surefire path.

    1. I love the honesty of both #1 and #4. As writers we tend to think others have it all together, that they have all the answers, and since we don’t, we feel we’re doing it wrong. This advice was so refreshing, and much-needed. Thanks for commenting, Julia! And of course, to Aimee, for taking the time to share with us.

  2. Number 4 resonates with me too. I spent so many years taking critiques, and conference and workshop lessons to heart, feeling bad much of the time, like I was trying to fit my square writing in a round hole of acceptability.

    Thank you for joining us today!

  3. Smart woman. 😉 It takes a brave soul to march to the beat of ones own drum. But I think it’s personal experience, and the wise advice of writers like Aimee, that reinforce our motivation to do so. These five pieces of advice resonant more with me now than they would have several years ago when I started writing seriously and applied everything I heard (or read). What a mess that was. Lol.

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