What A Debut Author Fears Most

what a debut author fears mostI thought I was afraid of public speaking. And I am. (That’s why I’m in Toastmasters.) But it turns out that’s not what I fear most about my Cinderella’s Dress book launch in two weeks. TWO WEEKS.

Saturday, I went to the Blink Tour at Changing Hands Bookstore to meet YA authors Lisa T. Bergren, Jill Williamson, Lorie Ann Grover, and Jonathan Friesen. Before the introductions were made, my launch event was listed in the announcements. Later, during Q&A, Lisa, author of 40 books was kind enough to ask me about my novel. This led to me asking the panel for their advice for an author heading into her debut month.

What Lisa said tipped over a domino that had me thinking all weekend.

She said that there are going to be people who really like my book. And people who really don’t. But the majority will be in the middle of the two extremes. She advised me to focus on the core readership and ignore the rest.

Walking with my husband that night, I told him about the event and what Lisa said. That’s when the mulling started. You know that thing authors do…when we go over every possible scenario, focusing heavily on the bad things that could happen. Note to self: You are supposed to do that for your CHARACTERS, not yourself.

Up until now, writing has been a very private activity. The only people who have read my work have been other writers, who get it. They get that it’s a work in progress. WIP. That anything and everything is up for revision. They get the striving to put the movie in my head into words that conveys that movie to another person. They get how hard that is.

Readers? Big scary readers? Do THEY get it? Do they get how hard it is to write a novel?

And then there has been the infamous Road to Publication. I look behind me and see a road littered with rejection slips. In front of me is the Cliff-of-the-Unknown.

Up until now, those rejections have been private. Shared, again, mostly with other writers who get it. Those who are also developing tough skin to suck up the rejection and keep trying. Keep writing.

Up until now, the advent of my first published novel, every book I’ve written has been rejected. Even though this book has been accepted and professionally edited, the dark cloud of rejection is not too far behind me. I still remember it.

What was once private will now be public.

I know there will be readers who reject my work publicly. They will forget that a real person is on the end of that rejection. I know this because I’ve read some reviews for other books and cringed in horror for the writer.

Book tastes are subjective. Once, I wrote a blog post about reading a book I didn’t particularly like (Too. Much. Voice). I was thrilled because it meant that even though my work was getting rejected by agents who liked their fairy tales “darker” all it would take is one editor whose tastes were like mine. It took awhile to find her, but I did. Now I’m in search of my tribe of readers.

A fear voiced loses some of its power.

That everyone won’t love my novel. This is what I fear most as a debut.

I am eager to meet my first bad review and get it over with. Like ripping off a Band-Aid!  *Please note, this is not a call for people to give me bad reviews. Truly, there is no need.*

And I am glad that—as always—I’ll have writer friends to talk it over with when it happens. The writing community is amazingly supportive. And one day, when a wide-eyed debuting author asks me for advice, I will give willingly and freely as I remember the fears leading into my own debut.

Now, if only I could nail public speaking.

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