Friday, March 22, 2013

Reflections on Being an Author

This is actually a post worthy of Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group. I've wondered a few times if I ought to join, and my recent experience kind of confirms that perhaps I should.

I caught myself (and it's not the first time) doing something I used to do a lot when I was a kid, especially a teen. You see, I never gave people a chance to say anything bad about me--because I made sure I beat them to it. There wasn't anything anyone could say bad about me that was worse than what I'd already said about myself.

The really sad thing is that, at my age, I dang well should be over that.

So what have I done? Lately, I've found myself warning my friends that they might not like my book. I keep imaging a friend or loved one picking it up, thinking they're going to love it . . . and finding that they hate it.


I know on an intellectual level there will be people who don't like my book. Author Beth Revis has a wonderful blog post on dealing with negative reviews here.

I guess my insecurities erupt full force in their adolescent power because some of the people who aren't going to like my book won't necessarily be strangers. Some of the people I care about may not like my baby.

My active imagination shows me in a social setting while I stare at their deer-in-the-headlights expressions as they scramble for tactful ways to give me a social white lie. Of course, I have to admit that I've got a couple of sons who would never give me a social white lie. They'd lay it out before me in untempered honesty:

"Your book sucked, Mom."

And, you know, that's okay. Really. Because I would be surprised if either of them liked my little adventure romance. Example--at least one of them thinks George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series is the epitome of great literature.

Um, I hate that series.

I've tried reading the first book twice and quit both times--finally checking out Wikipedia to see where it was headed. I knew I didn't want to read any further. Just not my kind of story.

Marketing myself--and my intellectual property--will probably be one of the toughest things I've ever done. Maybe even harder than it was to hand over that manuscript to be read for the first time.

And I'm surely not alone in this. Obviously, I need to do better with the positive self-talk. What do you do to either deal with your own doubts or to prepare yourself to deal with criticism?


  1. I wish I had words of help, but you will have to steel yourself for the inevitable trolling that will come your way.

    I find that looking at the reviews of my favourite authors helps, because every single one of them gets slammed. That takes the edge off negativity a bit.

    Artists place their soul on display. You will find far more people more love your work and respect you than those on the dark side!

  2. I think such doubts and feelings are in us all.

  3. I think we all have those feelings. And I could see myself saying that too.

  4. We all go through moments like that. I have a hard time telling anyone they will enjoy my books. If I describe it, there is always a 'but' in there.
    That you don't like Martin's books made me laugh!
    And you should join the IWSG, Donna. You will be amazed by the support and encouragement.

  5. What do I do? I have a blog where I sometimes whine about how rotten I am, heh heh.

    Yeah, obviously I don't yet have a novel hitting the big wide world yet, but I know exactly how you feel. It was easier handing my manuscript over to people I didn't really know than giving it to people close to me. There was this terrible, terrible fear my wife would read it and say, "THAT'S what you've been doing with your time?" A stranger can say or think what they want, and it won't hurt as much. also have the Mainstream Publishing Seal of Approval, and that should definitely count for something!

  6. Donna--Yes. I've been gearing myself up for this ... or so I thought I was surprised when I caught myself doing this. It made me think about the salesman who starts out her pitch by telling the prospective buyer that he won't want to buy the product. Kind of like in karate when our sensei would brace his abs and then have us take turns gut punching him.

    John--ain't that the truth. And then as Donna Hosie said, we place our souls on display. Crazy world, isn't it?

    Natalie--I thought I'd put that kind of thing behind me forty years ago! lol

    Alex--you know, I think I will.

    JeffO--I've actually already had a dear friend who didn't like it. It's not her genre. So I've already experienced that awkward expression.

  7. I don't think there's a cure as such, we all feel that way sometimes. But it's never as bad as you fear, those who don't like it have tat right, but I doubt there'll be that many of them. it's the ones who do like it that you should focus on. They're the ones who'll buy the next one, after all.

  8. Yeah those thought crop up in us all some days, but there will always be someone who dislikes it no matter how good something is and always be someone who likes something no matter how crappy it is, just the way things work, opinions are like well you know, just have to pick the ones that matter, if any.

  9. I'm the same way. I just did this with a critique partner. I handed over a hundred pages with the disclaimer -- "don't feel bad if you don't like it. It's probably not your kind of story."

    Had to make sure I lowered expectations and gave them permission to tell me I suck first. What is that all about? Self-protection I suppose.

  10. You know the genre you write is not my favorite BUT I like your stuff. You are a storyteller.

    I struggle with those negative critiques, but lately I'm getting better. I just keep reminding myself... 'I like it and I write for me". The proof comes if someone else likes it enough to risk publishing it. You've already climbed that hill, so sit back and enjoy. Remember, 'one mans ceiling is another mans floor'.

  11. yep, that series is just morbidly dark and aggressive.

  12. Moody--just getting touch skin and not seeking out the horrible ones, huh?

    Pat--exactly, which Beth Revis gave great detail about books we might wonder how anyone couldn't love.

    L.G.--Exactly. But we probably shouldn't be doing it in quite that way. As with my friend who didn't like it, I could have better prepared her by mentioning that it wasn't a genre she normally read but she could still provide that Orson Scott Card "wise reader" feedback.

    Far Away--My friends and coworkers who say they will buy my book are the ones who intimidate me the most. There's such an expectation there. Ugh

    Dezmond--Yes. I couldn't get around that to appreciate his great writing.

  13. It's my family motto, I'm afraid. "If you aim for your foot, no one will blame you for not hitting the moon." In other words, if I do everything I can NOT to succeed, I won't be disappointed.

    Hm...Once I realized I was shooting myself in the foot, success became a simpler proposition--I started aiming in the right direction.


  14. I think one of the most difficult things about being an author has been knowing people won't like my writing. And, yes, I've been there before with the whole "You might not like it ..." spiel. I just tell people now, "I hope you love it! If not, no worries!" kind of thing. It seems to work better for me. And really, I have to believe the whole no worries part because it really is okay for people not to like my stuff. In fact, if everyone loved my writing, I think that would probably be pretty boring and unbelievable. :)

  15. I just said that to someone this morning...apologizing because they might not like my book. It's tough, but definitely something we need to deal with if we want to be published. There's no way everyone is gonna like our book, but it doesn't mean we should feel bad about that either.

  16. Lauren--that is so quotable! I'm stealing!

    Michelle--You're right there! I just know I will not be seeking or pushing my friends to read my book. :D

    Ilima--that's what I'm going to keep telling myself. After all, I love my little story. I love my characters--I'd better after all the time I've spent with them. lol

  17. I am just going to SQUEEEE and get it over with. I read and adored every second of your book. I think Braedon is an amazing man that every reader will fall in love with (figuratively and literally), Lyn has her own strength and weaknesses (not as in a story weakness, but as an element of the characters personality) that gives her an edge that we can all relate to some aspect of our own lives.

    Your strong characters, action and romance driven story will not disappoint, and if someone out there dares to think it does, we just won't read those reviews.

    Every single author, no matter who they are, feels the same way regarding reviews. The trick is never to allow them to stifle your dreams and creativity because for every person that dislikes the novel there is another that equally adores it.

    Just remember, no one has the ability to dampen your dreams unless you allow them. That doesn't mean that we don't hear them, even grow from what they say, but never let it weaken you. Never!


  18. Emmaline--you're the one I'll be listening to. We'll squeee together.

  19. Yep. You should join the group. I'll bring crullers.

    This was something I've been thinking about, too, and was maybe going to post something like this for the next meeting, but I think you have the right mindset. No one story is for everyone. Even if someone write a negative review, at least that person took the time to pick up the book and read it. Liked it not, books are meant to be read. :)

  20. Hey Donna :-)

    IWSG is always there to have folks - like me - stop by and share in the "OMG what have I done!?!?"

    Like you, marketing is not the bee's knees for me. As a self-publisher, doing some self-promoting is a must if I want to get my name out there and work toward making writing a career and not just a hobby. I'd like to tell you I had the perfect plan for dealing with it. But I didn't when Neverlove was released October last year and still don't have the perfect plan in place now that I've released my novella, Frailties of the Bond. I consider myself lucky because I had Gwen Gardner to lean on the first time. This time, she's been there as a friend and all, but we didn't release together so I'm feeling a little extra shaky-on-eggshells.

    But I deal with each day on its on. I remember that there will be those who'll find my stories as sucky clumps of words not worth their time. But there will also be those who love it, adore it, gain something from it. I keep those in mind as I work on the next project I want to share with the world.

    By the way, I heard you won a great book. When you finish loving all over it, can I borrow it for all of 10 seconds so I can hug it? lol!!

  21. There were some popular books I didn't like.

    This is an honest post and what many authors are feeling and thinking.

  22. Being a writer is hard. You must accept that some people will LOVE or HATE your work. It's a given. Nowadays, everyone thinks they're all critics because of social media. I say keep believing in yourself and don't let the negative get to you. Continue to do what you love.

    And definitely - Donna, you should join our awesome IWSG group. We'll welcome you with open arms! :)

  23. DPK--Yay crullers! lol

    Angela--Thanks, the encouragement. I'm a little less concerned about what strangers think than I am about friends/coworkers/family who may buy the book--even though it's not a genre they read or like--just because they know me.

    Medeia--I sometimes wonder if that's the problem when a book gets too popular. People end up picking it up out of curiosity, but it's not their genre at all and they'd never have gotten it on their own. They're not the target audience and they're bound to be disappointed, wondering what the hype is all about.

    Livia--I did!

  24. I know this feeling EXACTLY. I think I've gotten better (for the most part) about saying, "You might not like it, and that's okay! You can tell me; I won't be offended!" That was my knee-jerk reaction when I first started being published. And of course, the insecurity still comes and goes and moments of panic hit, but you'll get through it!! You love your characters, you were happy with their journey and their story, and that is what matters most.

    Can't wait until your release!! :D

  25. Not to say that I won't crumble into a heaping pile of blubbering female when that first bad review comes in, but I'm actually at the point that I don't care what others think. I mean, I do a point. I'm finding, that for me at least, I'm writing the story I want to tell, not the one that will please my co-workers or friends. And the reviews have been positive so far because my love of the story is coming through. In the end, I think that's what's important. That you love the work and are happy with it (you obsessive person you)and then let it go out into the world to live.
    I've been doing minimal marketing, which may bite me on the backside later down the road, but I'm focusing on the next story. If I have enough out there, they will eventually find me. :)

    You'll be fine and find your comfort zone. You've got a fantastic support system of not only writers but family. Count me as part of the support, you know, like a good bra. There to lift you up but unobtrusive enough to not get in the way when you're taking care of life, lol.



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