Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Writing 101: Fear of Failure

For every single indie author who takes the plunge and self-publishes a book, there are probably 5 or 6 authors who write books they don't ever publish. But it doesn't matter how many books you publish. You can always wind up struggling with a fear of failure. The real question is: can you defeat it?

Are You Afraid of the Words?

Anyone can fail at something, no matter how good they are at it ordinarily. Professional athletes, great actors and career politicians prove this to us all the time. Failure is a part of life, and we all do it. But when you're an indie author, failure feels especially frightening. What if you spend all this time working on your book, pouring your love and your sweat into it? What if you fall in love with it and you truly know how great it is? What if no one buys it? Even worse, what if everyone hates it? 

Doesn't that make you a failure? 

All authors, indie and traditional, dread that 1-star review. All authors feel at least a little twinge of anxiety when one of their brand-new books hits the bookstore shelves, virtual and otherwise. No one wants to fail. And to avoid it, some authors may find that they're putting themselves in a position not  to fail. As an author, there's really only one surefire way to do that: stop publishing.

But if you're an author, that isn't really much of an option is it? Therefore, you can't stop publishing. This leaves you with but one more option. You're going to have to face your fear of failure. 

There are ways to do it, of course. I like to cheer myself up by looking at Amazon reviews of the popular classics. Focus on the negative ones, and you'll find that any book can be hated. So if yours is as well, at least it's in good company. You can also farm your book out to a few trusted beta readers just to get their opinion on it. If they have a positive reaction, that could bolster your confidence. You can remind yourself that you're a professional and failure is a part of the game. It's healthy, even, and who knows you'll even face failure? 

When all else fails, fall back on one time-tested solution that's worked for other authors in the past: do it anyway. It's scary, and yes you may fail. But you've got to publish anyway. Otherwise, your words won't be read. Isn't that the worst of all possible outcomes?

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