The closer I get to the launch of my debut, the more I deal with two fears. The first is the fear of falling. The second is the fear of flying. In other words, the fear of failure and the fear of success float near the top of my brain stew a lot these days. I need a strategy to deal with each.
Fear of Falling
I don’t know a writer out there who doesn’t cope with the angst of how their literary baby will be received. For my part, I’d rather gain a slew of nasty reviews and insults than face the empty silence of nothing. Yet, from a practical standpoint, I must be prepared for the nothing, because first books and small marketing budgets are the reality.
Realistic expectations fight with flights of fancy and portents of doom. It’s a debut book with a solid marketing strategy. However, the reception of the book is largely out of my hands. People will love it, hate it, or ignore it. All I can do is make sure they know about it and make it available.
Current wisdom says an author needs 4-6 books on the shelf before sales pick up and/or become steady. I keep this in mind and even posted a note on my bulletin board “it cannot be judged a failure until it has five siblings sitting next to it.” That’s basic marketing, after all. The more books you have out there, the bigger your name recognition will be. If any one of those books is found and loved, the others will at least get the possibility of being loved.
I’ve done what I can to prepare myself for the crickets because this first book is just one step in a lifetime of writing stories (I hope). Preventing discouragement is key, and I’ll do that by polishing the next two books in line and writing new ones.
Fear of Flying
What if? That thought runs through my head like a toddler avoiding pajamas. What if it is really good? What if it gets great reviews off the bat? What if it sells. A lot? What does that mean for me, sitting in my little writing corner working on stories? Will it mean travel? Speaking? Tension over a greatly increased income (hey, we all dream)? What if the book soars only to have the wax in its wings melt, leaving it to crash and die? What will it mean for my family? My boss? Am I prepared to run a business rather than “just” a creative endeavor?
I admit these concerns don’t occupy the mental real estate of the first set, but they are present. Because I am who I am, I struggle with the confidence that would allow these fears to be paramount. In other words, it is easier to expect crickets than fireworks. But . . . what if? Am I prepared to scale my life and activities to fit the new demands on my time and energy?
I’ve done what I can to prepare myself here as well, though it is more part of my five year plan than specific expectations. I have a plan for money because we have financial goals lined out already. I have a plan for speaking as that is part of my long term career goals already. I have a CPA’s phone number. Just in case.
The antidote for both fears, at least for me, is to stay immersed in my support system and my stories. As long as I have strong friendships and relationships, I’ll be fine. As long as I can lose myself in the flow of a new story, I’ll be fine. No matter what occurs or what happens with the debut, I’ve worked to build what I need to weather any outcome.