I had a great time at the Nebraska Writers Guild Spring Writers’ Conference. The speakers were incredible and I learned one piece of information that by itself made the conference worth the price of admission.
I’ll talk a little more about the conference and incorporate some of what I learned in future posts, but for now I’d like to talk about something else that happened at the conference that isn’t directly related to the conference at all.
It was the weirdest thing. I was talking to another author about my upcoming novel, and when she said something about reading it when it came out, I immediately cut her off and said, “NO, Don’t read it!”
And that was when I discovered something about myself that I’m a little ashamed to admit. I’m terrified at the thought of anyone reading my novel.
I have close to twenty short stories published and have have never been afraid to point to where people can purchase them, or read for free online. There is one story that I’m a little ashamed of because I feel it isn’t up to my standards, but even with that one, I’m happy it’s been published and have no problem publicizing the story.
I’ve never been afraid to submit stories to publications, or send novel excerpts to agents. I’ve never been afraid to put short stories on critique sites and I’ve never been afraid of criticism.
But suddenly, I have a book coming out and I’m scared to death that somebody might actually read it.
So…we’ve got to fix this, right? You can’t market a product if you’re afraid that the customer actually using the product.
I think the first step is to ask myself what I’m actually afraid of. That one is easy. I’m afraid of someone I know–friends and family–reading it and hating it.
I’ve been writing for over five years. I don’t generally talk about it with friends who don’t write, but it’s nothing I’ve ever hid either. People who know me might glance at my blog or skim over the occasional short story, but that’s about it. A novel, however, is different. It takes an investment to read. So if a friend of mine invests time to read my novel, they’re going to expect it to…I don’t know, not suck, I guess.
And if it sucks, I feel like…that’s it. I blow my only chance to impress. I’m exposed as not being a real writer. A fraud. A pretender.
Of course I’m know I’m being a bit melodramatic. The novel doesn’t suck. I’ve work-shopped the first chapter, received feedback on the first 10-25 pages and it’s been through several revisions as well as two rounds of edits from the publishing company’s staff.
But what’s even more important to remember–and this goes to all of us–there will be people who don’t like the novel. That doesn’t mean the book is no good. It means a guy who prefers high fantasy doesn’t enjoy lighthearted young adult fiction. It means a girl who normally reads adult horror, doesn’t care about an immature teenage boy who had a near death experience.
And you know what? That’s okay 🙂