A Writer’s Immobilising Insecurity #IWSG

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. – Dr. Seuss”

Is there anything more nerve-wracking for an author than publishing a book?

After hours and hours of writing, re-writing, reviewing, proof-reading and editing (according to Word I have spent more than 3000 hours on my latest, Embracing Change – in 10 minutes a Day) comes the moment you present your book to your beta-readers.

Insecure Writers Support Group BadgeWith your heart beating in your throat, you draft an e-mail to these valuable but critical allies, explaining what the book is about and what you have tried to achieve by writing it. You carefully format an Advance Readers’ Copy and attach it to the e-mail. Your finger hovers over the send button: is the e-mail too long, too short, too much detail, not enough detail…will it grab their attention immediately or will they put it on their to-do list where it will languish for days before they get round to it?

You press “send” and send a prayer upwards.

Now the wait starts. Your beta readers, ideally, are people who do not know you personally. They may know quite a bit about you because they have read your previous books, but they do not have a personal relationship with you. If the book is a flop, they do not have to feel that they have to spare your feelings. If they find spelling or grammar mistakes, they can point them out without fear of destroying your friendship. They can criticise to their heart’s content, point out weaknesses, suggest improvements, disagree with the content, even pull the book to bits, should they feel the need.

This book, Embracing Change, (available now on pre-order) I wrote with the help of my faithful patrons on Patreon, so some constructive criticism has already come my way, that I made good use of as I wrote the book. I am deeply indebted to my patrons, each and every one of them, and I am hoping that their contribution will have made my book easier and more enjoyable to read. Time will tell.

A week goes by. You think of little else: why is it taking so long? Is the book too long or too boring? 50 000+ words – it that too much for a self-help book? Maybe you have put in too many suggestions, or maybe not enough suggestions, or maybe the suggestions aren’t clear enough. Perhaps the recommendations are – and here you bow your head in shame – not practical enough, too difficult to implement or not motivating enough. After all, you wrote this book to try and help people, to make their lives easier, to inspire them to make changes that will enable them to realise their dreams…

Maybe your book is a complete and utter failure, a total flop. All those hours wasted, all those 4h00 starts when you could have slept for another three hours at least. All that research, hours of surfing the web to find useful information, quotes and resources. All for nothing, all a waste of time.

10 days after you sent your ARC’s to your beta readers, early one morning – you still wake up at 4h00 because you are now used to it and/or you suffer from insomnia because you worry about what your beta readers think of your blasted book, which you are now sure you should NEVER have started writing!!! – an email pops up in your inbox.

You sit there staring at it for a long time. Procrastinating, you get up, and you go and make yourself a cup of coffee. You can’t face this on an empty stomach. Thus fortified, you sit back down in front of your computer. You take a deep, slow, shuddering breath, and you press “open.”

The first word you see is “masterpiece.” You close your eyes, Please God, let it not say “a masterpiece this surely is not…” You open your eyes and concentrate on the words in front of you. You remind yourself to stay in the moment, however uncomfortable it may become. Just then, Gmail helpfully notifies you than another e-mail has landed in your inbox. You quickly check, yes, another email from a beta reader. Nothing for ten days and now it is raining reviews. Back to the first email. With growing bewilderment, you read:

“First, let me apologise for taking so long to get back to you.

Secondly, let me say I think your book is a masterpiece.

I really mean it.”

You warn yourself to stay calm. This is the opinion of only one beta reader. You read on, while your jaw is slowly dropping onto your chest:

“There are so many things I like about this book, it’s hard to know where to start…

The content is marvellous, well researched and presented in a thoughtful manner. There are great stories, pictures and lists of suggestions which are a truly valuable resource in themselves. Then there are the quotes …. such wisdom you have collected over time and gifted to your readers.

I love that this book encourages and engenders a sense of possibility.

I love that it is written in your voice and has throughout it, parts of your story. What I think I liked best is that it is written in a voice that speaks to the reader as an equal.  This book is written to a person going through change – which is all of us – not ‘someone in need’ or ‘someone lacking something’ …… “

You let out the breath you have been desperately holding, and you read it all again. And again. And again.

You open the second email, now unsure what to expect, hoping with everything you have and are that this second email will echo the first.

“I enjoyed your inspiring book very much, many, many words of wisdom within it.  Your method of quoting your own life and experiences make the whole concepts especially telling and easy to relate to.  For myself I related most to the Gratitude section, I thank God every day for our wonderful life in all this beauty that God has given us, but have never thought about making that gratefulness ‘active’.”

Both emails mention a few spelling and grammatical errors, but you barely see these, you’ll correct it all later.

Your first two objective reviews, both positive! You think back about what those closest to you had said about your book, how good it was, and how you felt unable to take them seriously as you know these people care for you and might not be entirely objective. You allow yourself to contemplate the possibility that, as you hoped, this book may be the best book you have ever written.

And then your overactive inner writer’s critic reminds you that you only have two positive reviews so far, several more are outstanding and that this may be too early to start celebrating…

Insecurity is an integral part this writer’s life.

“If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is, too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.”

Timothy Ferriss

Embracing Change – in 10 minutes a Day is already available on pre-order at Amazon. This is the provisional cover – what do you think?

Copy of Mindfulness and Meditation

If you too would like to be one of my patrons, click below: 


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