Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Way We Are: Publishing Fears

I think we all have fears. Some people's greatest fear might be significantly more or less than another person's greatest fear, of course, but we all have some to some degrees. And it doesn't matter where we are in this whole process-- there are fears to be had all along the way.

  • Fear that you might find out your writing stinks when you share it for the first time.
  • Fear that you'll never find an agent.
  • Fear you'll never find a publisher.
  • Fear that your book really needs you to get rid of your favorite part.
  • Fear that if you get multiple book deal that you'll freeze up and not be able to write the second.
  • Fear that your ideas aren't original/big/interesting/unique enough, or that they don't have enough conflict.
  • Fear that if you do make it big, it'll change you as a person.
  • That someday you'll find it too easy to quit trying.
  • Fear that when you have deadlines, you won't be able to meet them.
  • Fear that if a publisher takes a chance on you, that your book won't sell.
  • Fear people will hate your book.
  • And, you know... about a million more.

I think there are two kinds of fears: bad fears and good fears. Bad fears keep you from doing the things you should be doing. Good fears keep you from doing the things you shouldn't be doing. For example, a bad fear would be letting your fear that your writing stinks keep you from giving your work to critique partners or moving forward with it. A good fear would be letting your fear that your writing stinks push you to learn more and work and work on your MS until it's really ready before you query. The point is, any fear that you have can be used for your advantage, or your disadvantage. It can work for you or against you. The real trick is getting it to do what you want it to do. :)

So what's your biggest writing fear? Is it a good fear or a bad fear?

Although I've had several of those fears and more, I had thought about not sharing mine because... maybe I have a fear of sharing it. :) But how can I expect you to if I don't?! Plus, I've skipped my answer in a few The Way We Are segments in the past, and you guys have called me out on it in the comments. I respect that.

So, okay. Here's mine. I followed this one writer's blog since before she had even 100 followers, and before she got her book deal. I thought she was awesome and I really related to her and I loved her posts. She has a few books out now that have done really well (yay her!) and her followers now number in the thousands. But her blog posts that were once fun and full of excitement when good things happened, are now almost always full of bragging in some form. I guess my biggest fear is if I ever made it big, that someday I might think I'm cooler than someone. You know-- forgetting that it doesn't matter which publishing path we choose to take or where we are on the path, we're really all the same. Every single one of us is just struggling to climb whatever step is our next step. I know we're all doing the same thing, and that no one on one step is any cooler than someone on a different step. I just really don't want to ever forget that.

But you've all got my back, right? If I ever write a post that sounds like I think I'm all that and a bucket of cheese, you'll call me out on it, right? Give me a virtual eye roll or flick to the forehead? I'd appreciate it.

And wow! I didn't know I was asking such a hard question when I started this! Go ahead and lay bare your publishing fears. If it's hard, just know that I'm right there with you on that.

Huge thanks to both LindaK at Excuse Me While I Note That Down and to Nick Wilford at Scattergun Scribblings for passing the Sunshine Award my way. I LOVE sunshine! In a huge way do I love sunshine. Thanks, Linda and Nick!!

Oh, and if you haven't entered in the giveaway for the Advanced Reader Copy of Julianne Donaldson's EDENBROOKE, scroll down to the next post and enter! You have until Sunday night. And yes on international entries, to those who asked. Sometimes I forget that you don't all actually live in my neighborhood! I swear I wave to you every day. Makes me not think to answer questions like that in the first place.

Oh! And head on over to Erin Summerill's blog. She did Julianne's head shot, and is giving one away on her blog! (Your own headshot. Not Judo's.) Trust me. You seriously want this. She's amazing.


Colin Smith said...

It does seem that once a writer is published, his or her blog becomes solely a promotional tool for whatever projects s/he is working on. The fun, personal element goes (as well as any sense of regularity). I understand life gets busier when you have a book to edit, promote, and contractual obligations to meet for the next book. But it does seem a bit like forgetting the people that were rooting for you from the beginning. I'm glad not every published (or about-to-be-published) author is that way. But I hope I never get that way. You obviously haven't traveled that path Peggy, and I hope you don't. I enjoy your blog, and while I'll clearly give you a lot of grace while you're off promoting your book next Sept, I expect to see the same fun and informative stuff on your blog. :)

As for my fears? Hmmm... right now I can only think of two things I fear with regard to my writing. First, that my blog suffers in the way I described above as a result of being published. And the second, a little more immediate, is that I misspelled the agent's name in a query letter. :)

Cassie Mae said...

I can't imagine your posts ever being full of yourself, lol. But if you start getting cocky I'll throw my shoe at ya. ;)

My biggest writing fear is that everyone is lying to me when they say my stuff is good. Isn't that silly? I guess it's cuz I've told myself so many times I'm NOT good enough. Something I gotta get over, I know. :)

S.P. Bowers said...

I've seen that trend in blogging too and I wonder how I and my blog will change if we become published. I understand followers become more readers than writers and our place in life just isn't the same. I think your personality will always shine through. but here's hoping you become successful enough to get tested. I mean that in a nice way.

My fear is that people will realize I really am as lame as my comments--oh wait that's another fear. My writing fear is that my best just won't be good enough.

Shallee said...

I think my fears change with each book. Often, I'm afraid that I'm not a good judge of my own writing. That the story I love so dearly and think isn't too bad is actually a load of crap. I think that's a fairly common fear. :)

Annalisa Crawford said...

I always fear my blog isn't worth reading. I'm never sure if I've got the tone right, or the subject right. It used to be about my path to publication, and now that I am I fear I'll only talk about being published. I think about writing about something other than writing, but then I wonder if that's what the people who visit really want me to talk about. Oh my, I've got more fears over my blog than I have over my writing!

If you need me, I'll be under the table, weeping :-)

J. A. Bennett said...

My biggest fear is that I'll never finish anything, and that often holds me back. I just want everything to be perfect even though it never will be. I have serious writing issues!

Cristina said...

I fear I suck at this writing thing!

and I can't ever imagine you being THAT person. but I'll gladly give you a virtual head flick or something :) if you need it.

Anonymous said...

Just the fact that you're even voicing your concern about getting too full of yourself, if your published works make you popular (well, more popular than you are now), most likely means you won't...get full of yourself, I mean. :-)

I, like most people, fear that the vulnerability I expose about myself in my writing will open the door to lots of haters that will make snide, hurtful comments. No one wants that. But vulnerability is the best way to more authentically connect with it's a catch 22.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

I'm afraid people will hate my book. Yes, I know, some people will. If one person likes it, I'll be happy. And I hope people don't see me any differently. I'm still me. Still the same person and always will be. Even if I get a huge book deal someday. ;) And I agree about a certain blogger that sort of brags in her posts since she got her book deal. I don't know if it's the same one you're thinking of, but I've seen it happen to a few authors. I'm vowing to never ever do that. There are so many people much cooler than me. And I know it. :)

Leigh Covington said...

Have I told you lately that I love you? hehehe. Don't be creeped out. It's a good thing.

I completely agree about these fears, and I love that you honestly shared your fear. I feel that way about people sometimes and I don't want to be that way either. I hope I can always keep my eye on the ball & that humility is never forgotten!

I know you'll always be awesome!

Ruth Josse said...

I'm reading everyone's fears and thinking to myself, "Yep. I've got that one. That one too." I think we share a lot of the same fears, but my biggest one is that I'm a huge pile of suck. I love how you said we can and should use our fears to our advantage. Never, ever let them become bigger than the dream.

Michael Horvath said...

In would say they are "unfounded" fears. I tend to manufacture them myself.

Anonymous said...

Writing fear? Stopping one story and never writing another one, no matter how long it is.

Nick Wilford said...

I agree with most of the fears already said, to be honest. Like Cassie, I find it hard to fully believe someone who praises my work, which is daft and a bit ignorant seeing as they've taken the time to read my work and say they liked it. But I can't help not thinking my own stuff is great!

Another fear is that I write a book which does become really big, which does sell, but no one got the big point that I was trying to get across. Because everything's subjective, or I was being too obscure.

Jenny S. Morris said...

I promise to dump that bucket of cheese on your head if it ever happens. ;0)

I fear ALL of those things listed. My biggest fear is that the writer status on my blog will never change to author. Which encompass a ton of fears all in one. But I'm trying to turn that fear into hard work and research.

Thanks for sharing your fear with us. I don't think it will happen.

Carrie Butler said...

Don't worry, Pegasus. If you ever think you're too cool to hang out with us, we'll hold an intervention. ;)

My biggest writing fear? Hmm, probably that people really don't want to read about college-aged MCs.

Amanda Olivieri said...

LOL--"All that and a bucket of cheese."--I haven't heard that phrase in forever! I could never see you getting full of yourself, Peggy. Especially after admitting that THAT is your fear! I have a lot of writing fears, but I guess the biggest is that I totally stink and am deluding myself into thinking I could actually do this. :)

Mara Rae said...

My biggest fear is that I'll never get an agent. I just want to get past this one step. THEN I can worry about everything else. :)

Leigh Ann said...

I actually hit a really big roadblock over the past couple of weeks: My FEAR that I didn't know what I was doing, and that my writing stunk, and that I wasn't improving my craft, and that I wasn't writing saleable books, and that all my CPs were humoring me, and that I stunk at queries, and therefore I would never ever ever get an agent (WOW, so many fears) were sucking all the joy out of writing for me.

So, lately, I'm trying to tell myself that I have nothing to be afraid of except how I deal with the stumbling blocks that present themselves. I'm the only person who can stand between me and being happy with myself, between me and loving writing. And I'm slowly falling back in love with writing, in that crazy, mad, stay-up-way-too-late-to-finish-the-scene way.

Will I ever get an agent? Will I ever be published by a big sixer? The odds aren't in my favor. Probably not. But be afraid of that? It'll just ruin the fun along the way to trying.

Awesome post, Peggy, as always. And thank you for sharing your fear. I think it's a really, really, REALLY good fear to have. You rule so hard.

Nancy Thompson said...

Man, what a great post and question! I have all those fears, and I also know a writer/blogger who succumbed to her own greatness and that was a real turnoff. I have so many of those fears you listed, though I'm not one to give in to them. Still, it does give me pause. At this point, I think my greatest fear is putting my trust in a publisher and not having the experience I want and am expecting. A dream is an awful big thing to give over to someone you don't really know.

Jessie Humphries said...

I can think of a few examples of who you might have been talking about(success changing them and their posts from fun to braggy). I'll have to call you to discuss.
My biggest fear (in writing)(right now) is how bad my writing actually sucks, and that CPs and Betas are just trying to be nice.

Krista McLaughlin said...

I think my biggest fear with writing is that what I write will never be good enough. Maybe it is, but maybe it isn't. I'm pretty shy and though I love what I've written most of the time, I don't always want people to tear it apart because I know it has flaws. It makes it quite difficult.

Angela Brown said...

So you're GIVING me permission to give you a virtual smack to the back of the head if you ascend to the "uppity writer's group" and start looking down on aspiring writers.

Score! But I have a feeling I won't need that.

As for my fear, you listed several of them in your post. My biggest fear is that even if I query, get an agent, sell my book and get it published, that it may fall flat and no one will want to take a chance on me again.

Yeah, a scarey, scarey fear.

Z said...

Can I just say "ditto"?

My biggest fear is that I won't ever be able to finish anything because I'll freeze up and get caught up in what everybody else thinks so then I'll just abandon it because I'm too afraid to just get it done to put it out there. Does that make sense?

Imogen said...

At the moment I have the 'stinky writing' fear. I'm terrified of showing anyone my writing because I always doubt it's any good. Or that if I try and do anything with my writing, it just won't be good enough or interesting enough. Yes, stinky writing fears all round.

Delia said...

That's easy. Everything.

Thanks for the head-flicking permission. ;)

Donna Hosie said...

What an awesome post.

I wouldn't say I have any fears. I know I would have regrets if I didn't try certain paths in this industry.

Peggy Eddleman said...

Colin-- I agree- It's probably harder once that book comes out, but it is a bit like forgetting the people who've been rooting for you all along! I hope neither of us ever has that problem. Best of luck with the querying!! And I hope the name was right. :D

Cassie-- Yes! A shoe! Definitely throw a shoe at me if I ever need a little bringing down. And if they're cute, throw both. ;) And I know! It can be so hard to believe the kind words about a ms!

S.P.-- That's another fear! From what I've seen on other blogs, when you start getting more readers than writers, it is SO HARD to adapt. Your blog no longer understands its place in the world. I think I'm just going to figure that my blog is for writers, and my currently-non-existent website is for readers. Maybe that'll work? And thanks for hoping I'll become successful enough to get tested! You're so sweet! And your fear about the comments about made me spew my Diet Coke all over the monitor. I hadn't thought of that one, but YES! I have that fear, too!!

Shallee-- Ah, yes. THAT fear. I think we all feel that to varying degrees. And yeah- probably differently with each book, and with each stage of the same book. Heck, day by day with the same book! But it's that fear that will help us make it better, right? At least that's what I'm hoping. :)

Annalisa-- I know what you mean! Blogs take SO MUCH trial and error! A lot more trial and error than book writing takes. The nice thing about blogs is, you can generally tell how people respond to something new you try fairly quickly, instead of at a snail's pace like with book writing. :) It's something, at least.

J.A.-- Ahh. A defeated perfectionist. We should be in a club! Sometimes it's just so hard to get done, when you know you don't have the time/skill/brainpower/patience to do it perfectly RIGHT NOW. And let's let our club have M&Ms.

Cristina-- Thanks for the head flick offer. :) And I know on the suckage! I guess it's all about using that sucking feeling for the greater good. :D

Kim-- I hope you're right! And ahh, the Vulnerability Catch 22. That one's enough to strike fear in the strongest!

Chantele-- It seems that the worry that people will hate your book gets more and more prevalent the closer to your release date you get. It makes me shudder. And I hope you get a huge book deal someday, because I know you will stay exactly you!

Leigh-- I love you, too! I feel like writing that all the time to people, and then worry they'll get creeped out. And about the lack of humility thing-- I can't picture you ever having a problem like that.

Ruth-- I did the same thing! And your huge pile of suck comment made me laugh out loud.

Michael-- So are the fears you're manufacturing the good kind, then? Because if so, you should patent that manufacturing system! :)

Joshua-- Yep. I've definitely had that one! I don't think it's a fear that actually comes to fruition very often, though, thank heavens!

Peggy Eddleman said...

Nick-- Your second one is one I hadn't even thought of! Now I'm trying to decide if that a fear to me. Hm. I think that my story line is easy enough to "get," because it's a pretty straight forward thing. And if someone interprets my theme differently, I'm totally okay with that. I can see how, in other genres, though, that could be a big fear!

Jenny-- I'm going to hold you to that. :) And way to sum up a bunch of fears into a few words! I totally understand that one.

Carrie-- Nice. A Carrie Butler headed intervention. That almost makes me want to do an I'm all that post just to experience it! And I'd like to speak for the world and say we totally want to read about college-aged MCs. :D

Amanda-- I haven't heard that phrase in forever, either! I don't know what made it suddenly pop into my head. And I think that fear kind of comes with the territory. There's that blissful beginning stage when you think you really rock at this writing thing, then comes the stage where you find out that you really have about a million miles to go to get good. And all along those million miles, you wonder if you're ever going to get there because that million miles goes on FOREVER! Sometimes we forget to look back and see how far we've actually come.

Mara-- You go, girl! Way to focus on one fear, and one fear only! That's totally the way to go. And you'll get there. Between the query I read and the first chapter, I totally think you'll get there. You really rocked them both.

Leigh Ann-- That is such a HUGE fear to overcome! You should get an award. And a crown. And probably a sash. Maybe even a plaque. I'd say YOU are the one that rules hard! :D

Nancy-- Good for you not giving into the fears! And yes, I totally understand the fear about publishers. I've had a couple of friends who've had that exact experience. Definitely something to watch out for! A dream is definitely a big thing to hand over.

Jessie-- Let me go ahead and lay your fear to rest RIGHT NOW. They are most definitely NOT just trying to be nice. I can guarantee it. :)

Krista-- That's a huge one! I think it's one that anyone who wants to become better has to face.

Angela-- Yes! I am totally giving you permission. And I actually felt your fear as I was reading it! Must go make my book better RIGHT NOW. Very scary indeed.

Z-- Totally makes sense. It's a hard one to get past, too! But you will. I know it.

Imogen-- Sigh. That's a very hard stage. And so scary! Don't worry, though. Eventually that fear lessens to the point that you'll crave it instead of fear it. I promise.

Delia-- Haha! Everything. Yep! That about covers it! And you're welcome. Any time. :)

Donna-- No fears?! This is me, bowing down to you. You rock. A lot.

Kelley said...

I think my biggest fear is yours Peggy. I really want people to like me and respect me no matter how big or small my accomplishments. I don't want people to think that whatever my successes are have changed who I am.

And most importantly, I am afraid that they might actually change who I am and I would never want that.

So we'll watch out for each other. You can chuck something at me whenever you'd like ;)

Bea Sempere (Denise Baer) said...

I think my writing fear is continuing to write. My fear of coming up with a new idea and moving on it, or rewriting an old story. At the present time, I've been in sort of a promote/non-writing phase.

E.D. said...

It used to be finding out that my writing is bad. I am still afraid of that (and of realizing that I am just delusional in thinking I am good at it) but my biggest fear now, after having gained some confidence, is never seeing any of my (fiction) in print.

Christa Desir said...

Oh, I love your honest blog posts.
Okay, I have a BIG fear which is that my second book won't be as good as my first one and everyone will be like "oh, she's sort of a one-hit wonder."

I'm also worried I might get a cover with a girl wearing a ball gown, but this seems pretty unlikely:)

Valerie Hartman said...

I am facing my fears just in starting to write. I will be sure to make room and graduate to publishing, success and public fears later. Today, words on paper is enough!

Julie Daines said...

I think my biggest fear is that my book won't sell well. I feel like my publisher took a risk by putting some faith in me that the book will make them some money. What if it flops?