Two years ago if you had asked me what my two biggest fears were, I would have said snakes and spiders. You would have nodded your head at that clichéd answer and gone about your day not giving one more thought to my irrational fears of the common household arachnid or the backyard serpent. As you walked away, I would have been congratulating myself on keeping my secret. Of not telling you what I dreaded most in my life was hitting the publish button.
Was I a writer? Yes. I spent every single moment of my existence for years wrapped up warm and toasty in a daydream of other people’s lives; characters that needed that one final breath to come to life. I ate words for breakfast. I dreamed dialogue when I closed my eyes, but the one thing I didn’t do was commit to the actual process of writing.
Well, that is easy enough to explain. I was afraid of being wrong. I was afraid of letting my so-called book baby out into the world where it would be subjected to judgment. I was afraid of being called a fraud – a wanna-be writer with little talent and no game. Were these fears as deadly as spider bites and snake venom? Actually, they were worse because they as they pounded in my chest and ate away at my reasoning, they killed that part of me that knew I could succeed. So, instead of hitting publish, I hit the snooze bar on my ambitions and dreams of being a novelist.
What changed? Honestly, I’m really not sure. Maybe it was getting older and realizing I had the power to write what I wanted when I wanted. I didn’t have to wait for a swanky publishing house to agree I had a story to tell. The term “independent author” didn’t have to be a dirty word. Instead, it could be a term that stood for me. Once I made that connection, I started putting one foot in front of the other towards publishing my first novel.
Have there been bumps in the road? Of course, because what road is pothole-free? The first major speed bump was when I sent my finished manuscript to the editor convinced my book was an utter disaster. She disagreed, but I was still ready to scrap it. Self-talk, booze, and my husband telling me to stop acting silly helped me navigate this hurdle. The second major hole in the road came when I finally hit publish and found a slew of typos I had overlooked. Self-talk, booze, and a supportive husband couldn’t help me get over this fatal blunder as easily.
So, what advice can I give you as an indie author when I have only made it to the home plate twice? Here it goes.
Write From Your Heart
If the story you feel compelled to tell comes from your soul, readers will fall in love with your words and your characters. They will be invested in the storyline and keep turning the pages. I have been overwhelmed with the response that I have received from readers that have told me they felt connected to the characters in The Waiting Room and inspired by the message in Missing Girl.
Be Human, but Proofread
The truth is we all make mistakes. Even bestselling authors produce books with typos, but they have the publishing house to blame – you don’t. So, if you see a typo or two, or even a hundred after you hit publish, scold yourself for only a second and fix it. Own the mistake, but don’t let it own you or ruin your accomplishments. You’re so much more than a misplaced modifier or an incorrect preposition.
Stop Being So Damn Critical
Promote your book and be proud of your success. Hitting the publish button will open up your novel and your talent to judgment. This is when you put your big-girl or big-boy pants on and brush it off. If someone leaves a less than glowing review, don’t let it stop you from pursuing your passion and publishing again.
Don’t be afraid to hit the publish button. Embrace it instead. Save the fear for the little things like those furry spiders with the beady eyes and snakes that like to sun on your driveway.