Today fellow writers I have a cracker of a post for you. My friend and fellow author Sarina Langer, has written a fantastic post on common fears us writers have, specifically if we are new to the trade. I absolutely love her work, so I am a little biased when I say, I think you're going to be able to fully relate to this one.
6 Common Fears of New Writers
Writing a book is hard, friends. There are so many things no-one told you about. Who knew writing a book involves so much more than, well, writing the thing? I don’t blame you for worrying. We’ve all been there.
Worrying and doubting ourselves is kind of what we do as authors. If there was a job description, ‘excessive worry and doubt in your own ability’ would be on there. This is true whether you’re writing your first book or your twentieth, and I promise you’re not alone with it.
I’m hoping to ease at least some of your worries today. I can’t promise you’ll never worry about any of these again, but when you do maybe this post help you get back to work quicker.
What if no one likes my book?
There are a lot of readers in the world, friends, and a lot of books. Someone will hate what you write, no matter how hard you’ve worked to make it the best it can be. But that’s no reason not to publish your book, because someone else will love what you write. Think of it this way: is it realistic to hope that every person who picks up your book will love it? You’ve read books you didn’t like, too--maybe you even hated some of them! Maybe some of those books you didn’t like are quite popular and people rave about them, but for some reason you just don’t get the hype.
There are too many books for even just one person to love every single one. So, if someone doesn’t love yours, that’s fine. The important thing is that they tried it. Maybe it was the cover that attracted them, maybe it was the blurb, maybe it was the first page. Whatever it was, it will attract someone else, too--and maybe that someone will fall in love with the world you created.
As long as you do everything right--hire an editor, ask some beta readers to give you feedback, apply the changes they give you (within reason, of course, but that’s a topic for another post)--you’ll be off to an excellent start!
What if someone steals my idea?
That’s not likely. And if someone does, it doesn’t matter. Even if someone saw your idea and decided to write their own book based on it, their interpretation will be so different to yours that the end result might not even seem similar. Just think how many superhero movies there are! Or how often we see the orphan who gets adopted by their aunt and uncle and goes on to save the world (Spiderman, Star Wars, Harry Potter,...)! Whatever your idea is, chances are someone’s already done something similar. Only you can write your book your way, so why worry?
It’s unlikely anyone will steal your idea and write their own different version of it, though, because every writer is so caught up in their own idea they don’t really care what other writers do. Are you tempted to put your own twist on something your writer buddies are plotting, or do you have enough to do with your own WIPs? Exactly.
What if no one buys my book?
The good news is that you can influence this yourself to a certain point. Marketing is everything, and if you’re thinking about self-publishing your book no one is going to do it for you. Marketing your book is one of the most daunting tasks for a lot of people, but it doesn’t need to be scary: establish a social media presence early on (read: long before your book hits online shelves), and you’ll have a head start! I recommend Twitter and Instagram, because they’re my own two favourite bookish communities.
Besides social media, there are sites that can promote your book for you, your readers will promote it by posting reviews and gushing about it online (if you’ve made friends on social media by that point, that is), and you can gush about it yourself, too. Just don’t overdo it--if you say nothing but ‘My book is out now, you can buy it here!’, your followers will desert you and your book will die a slow death. Posting about it here and there is fine (I recommend pinning a post with sale links on Twitter, so it’s always at the top whether you post or not) and people will forgive you in the run-up to and during release week. After all, it’d be weird if you weren’t excited then!
If someone posts a review or a picture of your book, you can totally share the love (unless you share the same thing once every hour for a week), too.
The bad news is that marketing can only do so much when you’re new to the self-publishing game. The more books you publish, the more exposure you’ll gain, but it can be rough in the beginning when you only have one book published. So keep at it and write another book.
What if I’m not good enough?
This is a tricky one, because it depends on your definition of ‘good enough’. You’ve written a book, and you’re about to publish it--that’s incredible! You’ve achieved something huge here! Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not worthy!
Step back a bit and ask yourself how you define success. What exactly is your goal? Why have you written this book, and why do you want to publish it? What do you want to achieve? Wealth? Fame? An emotional response in your readers? Perhaps money has nothing to do with it. Define what success means to you, and figure out how to get there. All you can do is work hard.
What if I haven’t done enough?
I have an easy fix for you, friends. As long as you obey the Holy Trinity of Epic Fantasy Writing, you’ll be fine! Here’s what you need:
An editor, to make sure your book is in the best possible shape when you finally hit publish.
A cover designer, to make sure your book cover is so beautiful that potential readers can’t help but pick it up.
A cartographer, to turn your map sketch into something stunning to go inside your book.
If you don’t write high/epic fantasy and your book is set in our world, you may skip the cartographer.
I also recommend you add beta readers and critique partners to this list. The Holy Trinity of Epic Fantasy Writing is just your basics--you can add to it as you see fit!
I’ve received a 1-star review--should I quit?
Sure--if you don’t want to be a writer, after all? You need perseverance and a strong mindset if you want to take your writing career seriously. There’s a reason new writers are often advised to grow a thick skin. As we’ve already discussed above, some people will read your book and hate it. That happens. When it does, you can’t moan at the unfairness of it all and threaten to give up if you don’t receive a 5-star review right now. People have a right to dislike your book just like you sometimes dislike the books you read. If you feel so disheartened by one bad review that you want to give up altogether, maybe this career isn’t for you.
If you keep receiving negative reviews and they all mention the same issues, work at them. Get better.
Suck it up, read your 5-star reviews, and write another book.
You’re not alone in these fears. Honestly, every writer has experienced at least one of these at some point in their writing career. I hope this post has shown you why you don’t need to worry about any of them, and hopefully, it’ll help you move past your fears faster next time self-doubt rears its ugly demonic head.
A HUGE thank you to Sarina for writing this brilliant post. I hope you're all back on track and ready to rock your writing now. If you want to see more of Sarina head on over to her website and give her a follow on Twitter and Instagram.