I think everyone in the self-publishing game goes through periods of self-doubt and anxiety. My big one is that I haven’t done enough to build my “author platform.” I’m an introvert by nature, and my relationship to even the online world tends to be a cagey one. I love connecting with new writers whose work I love, and who I can engage with in conversation about the craft we both love. But it can be a little hard to tell who is going to be that kind of writer, and who is going to spam my Twitter feed with ads.
I recognize I need to reach out more than I do, and slowly I am working on doing just that, but there are so many aspects to publishing of any kind beyond just working on the books. I think many writers would like to just sit at a desk writing, then hand their work off to someone else to take care of the nasty business of selling it.
Ultimately sitting at a desk staring at my computer until my eyes get blurry isn’t much of a way to address any anxiety I might be feeling. There are much more practical ways to cope:
1) Remember this is a long game – There’s always time to build new connections, to write the next book or the next dozen books. It’s very unlikely you’ll get success with your very first effort, even if you’ve built a fabulous platform. Just do the next book a little bit better based on the things you learned the last time around.
2) Do what makes sense to you – Don’t force yourself to half-heartedly do things you think might help. Your engagement with the campaign, whether it’s promoting your book or forming new relationships, will come through your actions. Get to know people because you want to get to know them, not because it’s “mutually advantageous.”
3) Do a little something – Do one small tangible thing a day toward the area you’re worried about. Submit your book for review in a new place, comment on a new blog, work on an ad.
4) Get others to help – Writing the book was likely not a solitary endeavor. There are friends and family who will be more than willing to help when you need a boost, even if it’s just a friendly message.
5) Keep writing – When you can’t do anything else, do the most essential thing. Actually writing something tends to make me feel better, and makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something. And at the end of the day, you need content that people can actually read, and you need to get better at your craft. Writing will never be wasted time.
6) Don’t put the book away – If a book isn’t selling yet, there’s no particular reason to give up on it. You can always relaunch with a new cover, or try to build it up with a slow burn. It’s something you’ve worked hard on, and sometimes there can be a bit of depression or exhaustion after finishing a project. But that doesn’t mean you can’t go back and give it another go. Most things we read aren’t the latest and greatest thing. They’re the books our friends have recommended, or the new discovery we make in the library.
7) Be patient – Don’t panic and make rash choices. Take the time to write a good synopsis or pitch. Wait a day if you’re not sure what to do. Better to do it right the first time a few days later than to have to redo or write off that place to submit.
8) Help others – Chances are there’s another writer you know in the same boat. If you’ve got time, and expendable income, read their book and write a review. Or just throw out a random word of encouragement. We’re all in this together, in some ways more than ever.
9) Relax – Have a beer. Watch a little TV. You’re never going to be able to work all of the time you want to. If you did, you’d miss out on life, and have very little to say about it in your writing.
If you ever want to talk about this stuff, the bar is always open. Flash a message to @fractal_man or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you don’t look spammy, I’ll probably say hi 🙂
Want to try a bit of Ben’s book? Download the first few chapters of Surreality here: (epub | kindle)
One response to “Writing Anxiety”
First of all, I hope I’m the kind of writer you like engaging with, and not the Twitter-spammy kind. But any kind of Twitter self-promotion I do always makes me feel like I’m a spammer.
You do a very good job promoting your work from what I’ve seen. But yeah, it’s a long game. The light at the end of the tunnel is that after you have some success, you can hire someone to replace you on the selling front.
I know how you feel; I am also an introvert and selling books means being extroverted. I try to take the optimistic view that I’m learning a new skill.
Don’t get discouraged. “Surreality” is a really good book; as more people read it, word will spread.