What *Not* to Do When You’re Promoting Your Debut

Actual footage of Cait Corrain’s career. Image by Alexander Antropov from Pixabay

Oh look. It’s more author behaving badly drama! 

Cait Corrain, a YA author whose debut was scheduled to come out next year, did a really shitty thing. She created fake Goodreads accounts and gave one-star ratings to the upcoming books of several other authors in her debut group. And she used those fake accounts to give her own debut five stars, which was like leaving her fingerprints all over the smoking gun. And to make this even sicker, most of her targets were non-white authors. 

Eventually people figured it out, and the shit hit the fan. 

First Corrain blamed a random friend for trying to support her in a misguided way, but the time stamps on the screenshots of this conversation were out of whack. And there was no evidence this person ever existed beyond Corrain’s one conversation with them. 

Eventually she claimed the drugs she was taking to treat a mental breakdown caused her to do it. People aren’t buying that either. Drugs don’t make you racist. 

I don’t know where to start with all the ways this sucks. I really don’t. 

When people ask me what advice I have for a debut author, I’ve always said to find a group of authors who have novels debuting in the same year as yours. If you can’t find one, or if the one you find won’t let you join (some of the people running these groups have been snooty about what level of book deal qualified you to join, and you don’t need assholes like that), start your own. You’ll have that community of people all in the same boat, and it’s great support. 

At least it used to be.

Thanks, Cait Corrain, for ruining that for your fellow 2024 debuts. And why? Corrain was on track to have the kind of career that most authors, including me, would kill to have. She had a multi-book deal with Del Rey, a big and important publisher! She was going to be in multiple book subscription boxes, which is an invaluable promotion tool! She was on the cusp of being Really Big. She could have been another Cassandra Clare, right down to the background in fan fiction.

But now? Google her name and this mess is all that comes up—and it’s been written up in places like the New York Times and the Washington Post. The book deals and her agent? Gone. 

All because she felt threatened by authors who she thought had it even better than she did. 

I’ll be totally honest: I get jealous too sometimes. Once in a while, another author gets a thing I really, really want and I’ll have a few minutes of hot spikes in my stomach. Why not me? I’m just as good as they are. Hell, I might even be better. How come they got that and I didn’t? Connections? Ass kissing? It’s not faaaaaair!

I’m not even going to apologize for that because I think it’s normal, however unpleasant. What do I do when it happens? I grumble until the feeling passes, and it always does. And I try to figure out how I can put myself in the best position to get the same thing that author has. 

Not once have I ever even attempted to sabotage someone else. I believe the energy you send out into the writing world is what you get in return, and what happened to Corrain’s book—and career—seals that for me. 

And, y’know, it’s just not nice. Your debut as an author is precious. You might go on to write and publish much better books, but this is the one that got you on the map. Imagine someone trying to tank it before it’s even out in the world, just to build themselves up. I can’t. Like Gabino Iglesias said so wisely, it’s so much easier to be decent and supportive and pay it forward. 

And on that note, I’d like to support the authors Corrain targeted. Please show their books some love on Amazon, Goodreads, and anywhere else you can. 

Bethany Baptiste, author of The Poisons We Drink

Kamilah Cole, author of So Let Them Burn

K. M. Enright, author of Mistress of Lies

Thea Guanzon, author of The Hurricane Wars

Katrina Kwan, author of Knives, Seasoning, and a Dash of Love

Akure Phenix, author of The Empire Wars

R. M. Virtues, author of The Gods of Hunger Series

Frances White, author of Voyage of the Damned

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