Platform, support, wine, laughs: What I got out of being a Debutante

It seems impossible, but our reign as Debs is coming to an end very soon. In a year of unprecedented turmoil politically, socially, economically, and domestically, being a part of the Debutante Ball has been an absolute bright spot for me. And as my sister Debs and I get ready to pass the torch to the new class, I’d like to share a few of my favorite things about being a Deb.


Being a debut author feels a lot like shouting into a crowded room where everyone else is shouting at the top of their lungs. It’s hard to be heard over the din. Having regular access to an established blog platform like the Debutante Ball has been enormously helpful to me as I’ve slowly tried to build my brand and increase my online presence. Plus I’ve gotten to share my hard-won wisdom on topics like persevering through failure, finding your tribe of fellow writers, and drawing inspiration from my hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas. I’m a writer. I want to write. And writing is always a lot more fun if people actually read the words you type on the screen.


Being a writer is hard, and being a debut writer is REALLY hard. You’re excited, terrified, anxious, insecure, and filled with 10,000 questions about everything from cover reveals to book swag to dealing with negative reviews, and negotiating the second book contract. But having a group of sister Debs to reach out to makes the process a million times easier. Lyn, Ehsaneh, Greta, and Denny have been such a help to me as I’ve navigated the process of bringing my book out into the world. I own them all a big hug and big glass of chardonnay, which brings me to…



In vino veritas…and if I may humbly add, in vino fraternitas as well. I’ve virtually toasted each of these incredible ladies as their books came out into the world, starting with Ehsaneh last September, then Greta in January, Denny in March, and Lyn just a couple weeks ago in July. In our Zoom chats we’ve had wine, cocktails, and champagne to celebrate all our firsts. And in a year when all celebrations felt a little less celebratory, it’s been great to have four other ladies to commiserate with, even if it was through a computer screen.


And of course, the laughs and the friendship. Lyn’s yoga and writing videos regularly crack me up. Greta has kept us oooh-ing and aww-ing over her baby photos. Ehsaneh is doing the work promoting sustainable commutes in Silicon Valley. and Denny is the hardest working woman at Kensington, always hours away from her next deadline. It’s been a privilege knowing these women over the last year. I couldn’t think of a better group to have spent my debut year with.

So now what?

Ok great, Elizabeth, but what’s next?

I want you to apply!!!!!!!

Applications are open now for next year’s class of Debutantes. If you are a female or non-binary writer with your first book coming out from a traditional press between September 2021 and August 2022, please consider applying for The Debutante Ball. It’s been a great experience for me, as it has been for dozens of women since 2007. And please spread the word. It’s a noisy world and the point of the Debutante Ball is to help debut writers break through the din. Apply today!

Author: Elizabeth Gonzalez James

Before becoming a writer Elizabeth was a waitress, a pollster, an Avon lady, and an opera singer. Her stories and essays have appeared in Ploughshares Blog, The Idaho Review, The Rumpus, and elsewhere, and have received multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominations. Her debut novel, MONA AT SEA, was a finalist in the 2019 SFWP Literary Awards judged by Carmen Maria Machado, and is forthcoming, Summer 2021, from Santa Fe Writers Project. Originally from South Texas, Elizabeth now lives with her family in Oakland, California.