Afraid to hit publish?
You’ve sweated over the perfect word, stolen time from family, work and play, and finally —finally—your book is done. Why then, are you afraid to hit publish?
Fear of putting your novel into the world where anyone can read it can be traced to two reasons—fear of failure and fear of success. Let’s unpack them further.
Fear of Failure
You’re not good enough. Your writing isn’t good enough. So-and-so writer is better. Your book isn’t ready. People will hate it.
If you’ve ever had any one of these thoughts—Congratulations, you’re a writer! We’ve all suffered from imposter syndrome, knowing that anything we write is crap, and why are we even trying?
Good news! We’ve all been there. Every book you read was written by an author who doubted himself. Every. One.
Better news! Your worst fears won’t come true. I mean, really? The whole world will hate your book?
Are you willing to abandon your dream and all your goals because of the opinion of someone else? Since when is any other opinion but your own the standard by which you live?
Stop comparing yourself to other writers. They’re not you. You’re not them. We are all on different stages of the same journey. Don’t let the imagination that created an amazing world be the assassin of
You’re good enough, and so is your book. Don’t be afraid to hit publish and send your baby into its next voyage.
Fear of Success
If you’re afraid to hit publish, you may be afraid of success. It’s not as odd as it sounds. Fear of success is a valid social anxiety. We like our routines, our habits, and feeling comfortable. What if success changes all that? We’ve seen overnight success in celebrities ruin their careers. We’ve read about lottery winners who are broke five years later. Do we want success if it changes who we are? Will our friends and families look at us and treat us differently if we succeed in our writing career?
Maybe we found happiness in the past and it failed. Think of the euphoria of your first love affair, then the heartbreak and disappointment when it broke apart. Or the promotion at work followed by a pink slip.
Good news! Life is full of ups and downs. Why deny yourself a pinnacle of success just so you can remain in a comfortable rut? Don’t you deserve a reward for the sacrifices you’ve made to finish your book?
How to not be afraid to hit publish
- What will happen if you don’t publish?
- Realistically, what are the chances of it happening?
- If it does happen, do you have a plan to cope with the consequences?
- Will publishing your book take you to the next level?
By laying out the worst-case scenario and anticipating your reaction, you can ease or eliminate your anxiety and not be afraid to hit the publish button.
Fears are normal. Ups and downs are normal. If you write fiction, you’re aware of the hero’s journey and his character arc. Why not embrace the writer’s arc?
Ease your fears with these steps:
- Find your tribe. Facebook is filled with support groups for writers (20Booksto50K comes to mind). As they say there, a rising tide floats all boats. Ask as question from someone with more experience and give a helping hand when you can. You’re not in this writing journey alone.
- Be accountable to someone. Post your goal and achievements to someone who will hold you accountable. I know when I don’t feel like writing, I sit down and type anyway because, at the end of the week, I have to post that I wrote at least 3,000 words.
- Grow a thick skin. Your first book might not get noticed, or if it does, the reviews aren’t stellar, or are nonexistent. (Hint: Don’t read or expect reviews. Take your ego out of the equation and realize reviews are subjective). Your editor gives criticism that you don’t agree with. Your critique group rips apart your character’s motive. Don’t let it stop you from publishing. It’s your book.
- Get as much feedback as you can from beta readers in your genre and an editor, but sooner or later, you have to have to let go of the book.
- Nothing will ever, ever be perfect.
Change your mind about failure and success. Don’t be afraid to hit publish. Then start writing the next book.
Much success in publishing your book!
What a great post filled with encouragement to hit publish. I was afraid to fail, never thought of afraid of being successful!
It’s interesting. When I first read “fear of success,” I had a very different initial thought. I imagined someone thinking “What if I create something, and it’s amazing, but then people expect me to do it again, and I can’t?”
Fortunately there are so many examples of prominent authors going through the same experience, and I think maybe those doubts might be an important aspect of the writing process, a necessary consequence of being in the right mindset to craft a good story.
In some ways it reminds me of an article I read that proponed the merits of “the muse.” The general idea was to “let go of the burden of creativity by saying ‘there is a muse, and it is partially responsible for the quality of my work. All I can do is sit and write. Whether or not what I write is of quality is beyond my control.”
One way or another, I think we all try to “reduce our scope to the matter at hand” and sidestep or shelve other concerns, at least until it’s their turn to be “the matter at hand.”
I was beyond naive when I first published. I thought I’d hit ‘publish’ and magically make money and become famous. Ha! Ha! Now, I know better. Much better. Thanks for the article.
Thanks for bringing this discussion to us Cheryl! I hadn’t really thought about the fear of success side of things, but I can totally see how that might hold me back. Great post!
Great tips! We’ve all been in that strange place of fearing failure and success once we get on the actual publishing side of things. Thanks for sharing 🙂
Woo! You were speaking to me with the imposter syndrome. The moment I share my work with anyone I’m instantly struck with the stomach-churning misery and worry that I just clued someone in on what a horrible writer I am. It’s good to know I’m not alone on that.
What a positive, uplifting post Cheryl. Thank you so much. I wish my book was done now because you really inspired me to go for it 🙂 Happy Hop Day.
I know a few people who have been afraid to publish. Finding your tribe is good advice. We all need that.
Yup! I had to get over this last year to publish my book. I have found that military readers generally find my children’s book funny. Non-military readers are often just confused. So it is a more niche publication than I thought. However, I have to remind myself that this does not speak to the word “quality” per se. If I think of the quality of Goodnight Moon or something, I feel defeated before I start. However, the other day I went into B&N and saw a story about a farting donkey in the children’s section. That really put everything in perspective. My work may not be for everyone, but well, there’s something for everyone.
Really good analysis. Left to myself, I’d probably hide under a bed. But I can’t can I?
I admit I’m very afraid of success. :/
Anna from elements of emaginette
Thank you for this. It sounded like a lot of the things that go through my head at times.
Excellent post! And for all the points you’ve made, I’ve considered them ad naseum. So while I’m working on my novel, I’m also working on a collection of short stories to indie pub. Not for fame, not for fortune, but to just get the work out there to readers.