It happens every time, usually two or three weeks before a client’s projected publication date. Most of the time, they aren’t even aware it’s happening. Sometimes, it looks like a list of 11th-hour corrections; sometimes, it’s a list of questions that reveal doubt in the decisions we already made together.
Only once has it looked like a lengthy email from a client expressing deep anxiety and fear.
What do these things have in common? They’re all symptoms of first-time publishing anxiety.
If you’re a client who has worked with me for typesetting and see yourself in these examples, please understand that I’m not mocking you. You’ve reached the most courageous decision an author can come to: the choice to share your book with an audience.
But I’m also not going to say you or any other writer is wrong for being anxious. Your writing is deeply personal. It’s a project you’ve sweated and labored over.
At the same time, no matter how normal publishing anxiety might be, it can deprive you of confidence, trap you in a vicious cycle of fear, and even drain all the joy out of what should be a huge milestone.
I’ve also worked with enough anxious authors (not excluding myself) to know how tragic that can be.
Are you a first-time novelist with publishing anxiety? Do you feel overwhelmed by the process of getting your book published? You are not alone! In this post, we’ll talk about the unique struggles of being a first-time novelist and the anxiety that comes with publishing your first book.
A Word About Body Chemistry and Publishing Anxiety
First of all, let’s start with a biochemical lesson.
Did you know that anxiety and excitement are the same emotion? They both produce the same symptoms and the same rush of adrenaline.
So, what’s the difference between them? It’s how you perceive the situation causing the emotion. Your interpretation of the events determines whether you’ll feel excitement or fear.
Uncertainty is often the cause of a lot of anxiety. When the outcome of a situation isn’t a foregone conclusion, it can be easy for the what-if machine to fire up and overwhelm us with the amount of possibilities.
The flip side of this is that fear results from focusing too much on one side of the situation than the other. Often, there are equally as many things that could lead to a fantastic outcome as the possibility of failure.
As a result, most of the time when we feel anxious, we are excited for something to shift.
This doesn’t apply to every situation where we might experience anxiety, but it certainly applies to publishing.
Keep this biochemical fact in mind as we discuss some causes of publication anxiety.
(NOTE: There is a great article about this topic in Forbes if you want to read more.)
Fear of Being Judged: Overcoming Anxiety about Your Writing
The fear of being judged is a common struggle for first-time novelists, but it's important to remember that you are not alone.
To overcome this anxiety, it's essential to remind yourself that writing is a deeply personal and subjective art form. What resonates with one reader may not resonate with another, and that's okay.
Embrace the uniqueness of your voice and trust in your creative instincts. Surround yourself with a supportive network of fellow writers who understand your struggles. You’ll find that you're not alone in this journey by sharing your fears and insecurities.
Remember, the only judgment that truly matters is your own. Don't let the fear of being judged hold you back from sharing a message that a key audience needs to hear. Embrace your vulnerability and share your story with the world.
Imposter Syndrome: Recognizing and Conquering Self-Doubt
Do you constantly feel like a fraud? Do you doubt your abilities as a writer and fear that you will be exposed as an imposter? Welcome to the imposter syndrome, a common struggle many first-time novelists face.
It's that nagging feeling that you don't deserve your accomplishments, that you're just lucky or fooling everyone around you. But let me tell you, you are not alone. Recognizing and conquering self-doubt is essential in overcoming imposter syndrome.
Remind yourself of your accomplishments and the hard work you've put into your writing. Surround yourself with a support system of fellow writers who can provide reassurance and validation. And most importantly, remember that your writing journey is unique and valid.
Sylvia Plath famously said, "The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt."
Don't let self-doubt hold you back from reaching your full creative potential. You have worked hard on your book, and you deserve to share it with others fearlessly.
Managing Expectations: Coping with Success or Failure
Publishing your first book can be an exhilarating and nerve-wracking experience. It's natural to have expectations about how your book will be received, but it's important to remember that success or failure is subjective.
Instead of getting caught up in the outcome, focus on the journey and the growth you've achieved as a writer. Celebrate the milestones, big or small, and recognize that sales or reviews do not always measure success. It can come in the form of personal satisfaction, connections made with readers, or even the invaluable experience gained.
Embrace the uncertainty and the fact that you have taken the brave step of sharing your work with the world. No matter the outcome, remember that you have accomplished something remarkable by putting your words out there.
As we mentioned earlier . . . choose excitement over anxiety.
Dealing with Negative Feedback: Strategies for Navigating Criticism
This is the reason for publication anxiety where it gets real.
What if people don’t like my book?
Dealing with negative feedback can be one of the most challenging aspects of publishing your first book. It's natural to feel hurt or discouraged when faced with criticism. But the truth is, your work won’t be for everyone, and that’s okay.
Most of my reviews for The Goodbye-Love Generation have been pretty good, but several haven’t been so hot. It would be easy for me to get ticked off over this, but you know what? I’m cool with it.
It means that I wrote something that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and is causing a diverse array of reactions among readers.
I’d rather write a book that gets terrible reviews than one where people heap empty praise on my writing.
Not everyone will like you, and there’s nothing wrong with that. They’re just not your readers.
Don’t let nagging thoughts of failure, imperfection, or not belonging keep you from feeling excited about sharing something creative and making an impact.
Need Help with Publishing Your First Book?
Did you know that in addition to editing and proofreading, Inkling Creative Strategies also does typesetting?!
That’s a big industry word for taking your manuscript and formatting it into the pages that go between the two covers of your book.
I help you create a unique brand for your book with fonts and ensure that it’s readable and creates a positive experience.
Want to learn more? Schedule a complimentary consultation to find out how I can help.