Welcome to the first how-to in The Anxious Author series!
We’re going to take a good, hard look at the anxieties writers and authors feel during their work and how we can combat those anxieties. This week: How to Share Your Books Fearlessly!
Writers don’t have it easy. We follow our passions for a small income and we doubt ourselves before, during and after we’ve released our books. Yet we carry on regardless.
When I published my very first book, a short story called The Witch’s Touch, I had a lot of anxiety fed by lots of different thoughts: What if nobody liked it? What if all my reviews were one star? What if I’ve accidentally stolen someone’s idea and they sue me for millions? Yeah, not all of these fears are rational. In fact, most of them aren’t.
It’s a fear a lot of authors have, especially when they are first starting out: that somehow, sharing their work with the public will lead to something terrible. The truth is, that unless you have written a book, an article or a washing machine manual that is riddled with errors and/or prejudice, the world will give their subjective opinion. It won’t always be good but it won’t always be bad, either.
There are a huge number of reasons that we feel anxious about sharing our writing, so let’s tackle the most popular and (usually) most traumatising reasons.
What if someone steals my work?
It’s possible. Even if you’re not a bestselling author you run the risk of having your book pirated, but we shouldn’t let that stop us. Do everything you can to protect you work: use watermarks on ARCs, ensure you can trust your beta-readers and keep an eye on book pirate websites to make sure your books aren’t up there.
What definitely isn’t going to happen is someone seeing a snippet of your book on a Facebook post and deciding “I’m going to write a book just like that.” Thieves don’t put in that much effort.
The fact is, everyone who publishes these days takes this risk and it shouldn’t stop us from pursuing our dreams. If you do find that your work is being pirated, contact the website provider and tell them what’s happening. There’s a good chance they won’t want to be associated with piracy and pull the website.
What if nobody likes it?
Someone out there is not going to like your work, it’s a fact. Pleasing everyone is impossible and even the likes of J.K. Rowling get plenty of bad reviews. In the same vein, someone out there is going to like your work.
Given you have put enough of your time and effort into your book to make it as polished as you can, you will most likely earn yourself a fan somewhere. But perhaps that fan just hasn’t found your work yet. If anything, this is a good kick in the behind to remind you to never stop trying. One day, you might just get that five star review that reads “I loved this book, when is the next one?” Write for that day.
What if my book isn’t ready yet?
You are the best judge of this. If you feel that your book isn’t ready, do another edit, put it to another beta-reader or editor. Maybe leave it alone for a little while and come back to it in a few weeks with a fresh pair of eyes. You might read your book a little bit differently after a break.
As anxious authors, we will worry a lot about the quality of our work and it’s that anxiety that works in our favour. We are much less likely to release a book that isn’t ready because we’re so anxious to get it right. This is one of those times to have faith in your anxiety!
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The most important thing to remember is that as anxious authors, we are probably worrying about a lot of things we don’t need to. It’s easy to worry about the things that can go wrong but it is a lot more fulfilling to dwell on what could go right. Let’s face it, we’re all looking for those shiny five stars.
To condense this post down into a few words; our fears are mostly of our own making and the more we dwell on them, the more fearful we become. So let’s banish the faux-fears and get real. We can make it out there if we work hard!
Thanks for reading! If you are an anxious author with a specific fear or anxiety, get in touch and I’ll cover it in one of my future posts!