Yesterday, I discovered my Harlequin NASCAR romance, DRIVEN (part of AT ANY COST) started shipping from Amazon. It made my stomach flop over. It is, officially, my second release, and it hasn’t gotten any less nerve-wracking. In fact, maybe it is MORE nervewracking because I’ve only seen one review so far (the Harlequin category lines are run a little different than a YA lineup– there were almost no Advance review copies…) so to have it just… hit shelves without any idea of what people think of it is, well, really scary.
There are many, many paths to publication, and everyone’s is different. But one thing is consistent: we all freak out. A lot.
When you’re ten pages into your first ever book, you’ll freak that it sucks and you dont know what you’re doing and you’ll never find enough time to write it all.
When you write THE END for the first time, you’ll stress that the whole thing is a mess.
When you query agents and get your first form rejection, you’ll freak that you suck and you’ll never find an agent.
When your first book hits shelves and its published by an awesome publisher and you have an awesome editor, you’ll still worry everything is a fluke and readers will hate you.
It doesn’t matter what stage you’re at– the feelings of suckitude remain consistent.
There ARE things you can do to help ignore the Voices-of-Doom. Here are my tips:
1) Surround yourself with inspiration. I used to post quotes on a board above my computer. My favorite was, “Use what talents you possess. The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.” I also posted my #1 writing rule: “Give yourself permission to write crap. Crap can be fixed.” Whenever I wanted to toss what I was writing, I just had to look up.
2) View it as a process. Remember that every book on shelves had a team of people helping it become what it is. It went through revisions and copy edits and typsetting and yes, it’s very pretty, but it didn’t look like that when the author wrote it down.
3) Remember that NO book in the world is unversally loved and adored. Think about the last 5 books you read. Did you love and adore all 5? Probably not. But its a published book, so someone did. If you just got a rejection, it means that wasn’t the right reader for you. It’s okay to be rejected. Plenty of people love rocky road ice cream. I hate it. Does it mean it doesn’t have a place in the world? No.
4) Save praise; toss rejection. If your work is on fictionpress, and you’re getting reviews, move all the positive review alert emails into one folder. Delete the others. When you’re feeling down, open up that folder and read some of the good reviews.
5) Network. Commiserate. Misery loves company, right? If you make friends with other writers, they will know exactly what you’re going through. They’ll talk you down off the ledge and push you in the right direction. I don’t know what I’d do without my writing friends!
6) Let yourself wallow…. but only for a little bit. It’s okay to take a day or a week or a month off. Sometimes you just need to live and let the stress evaporate on its own. Don’t burn yourself out because you think you have to have it now. Let yourself breathe and come back to your writing with fresh eyes and more energy. But don’t quit.
Anyway, I hope that helps… Happy Writing!
Agent, D4EO Literary