fifth edit I’d done on the book, I still felt nervous when I hit send. I couldn’t help asking myself: Was the book really ready? Was there anything more I could do?
After all, once I sent the book in, that was IT. That’s what readers would get when it’s released in September. Sure, there would be a few minor changes here and there during line and copy edits. But overall, what was on the pages was the final version—for better or worse.
So, yes, after all the time I’d spent editing the book, I’m relieved that I’m done. But at the same time, apprehension has been haunting me.
What if readers don’t like this book as well as The Preacher’s Bride? What if the plot lacks the same passion? What if my characters aren’t as likable? What if I’m too repetitious? What if I didn’t get enough setting details? What if I added too many?
On and on the doubts assail me.
Of course I had doubts before the publication of my first book. I had the usual first-time author jitters and was nervous about what people would really think of my story. But I hadn’t expected the doubts with my second book. I thought for sure I’d be more confident, that I’d be ready—especially now that I know what to expect.
But that’s precisely the issue. Now that I’ve been through the process once, I’m no longer naïve. I know big book reviewers are going to read the ARC of The Doctor’s Lady and splash their reviews (good or bad) across cyberland. Readers are going to pick up my book and write Amazon and blog reviews. And ultimately the loyal fans I made with my first book have told me they’re anxiously awaiting my second.
Will my book be able to pass the numerous tests and earn a thumbs-up? Or will I become a one-book wonder?
I promise I’m not fishing for any reassurances from those of you who read and liked The Preacher’s Bride. The point of this post is to show that no matter where we’re at in our writing journeys, we always face fears.
Author K.M. Weiland summed it up in her comment on my last post: "That second published novel is one of the most difficult, I find, since we're suddenly aware of an audience that isn't imaginary any longer. For me, the experience of wanting so badly to please readers with the second book was so nerve-wracking that I had to just put my audience completely out of mind."
I imagine even best-selling authors with numerous published books still battle doubt. Perhaps the pressure to succeed only increases with each well-received book an author publishes—the pressure to keep going, to keep producing books that readers will like.
As I struggle to maintain confidence about my next book, here are a few things I’m telling myself. They’re things we can all tell ourselves when we hit a dip in our confidence levels:
*Readers are usually pretty forgiving. We’re often harsher on ourselves than anyone else will be. And likewise, our toughest critics will be other writers and industry personnel who are intimately connected with the writing craft. Non-writing readers, on the other hand, can overlook our blunders and will perhaps not even notice our floundering here and there.
*We can’t produce perfect books. I’m sure many of us have lamented the fact that certain New York Times bestselling authors use poor grammar or break the “rules.” And although I think all writers need to strive to hone their craft, when the story is strong, readers can often overlook other “mistakes.”
*We can only work to the best of our ability, and then let go. We can nit-pick our books forever. In the final hours of working on The Doctor’s Lady, I found myself editing my edits. I knew then it was time to let go. I’d done the best I possibly could. Anything more wouldn’t really add or detract to the story.
*Seek out the opinions of those we trust to be honest. We don’t want to surround ourselves with people who will only tell us what we want to hear. Rather we want a handful of people we can go to, friends who are comfortable telling us what’s wrong with our stories. Then when those friends praise us, we’ll be able to trust them.
*We can try to make the next book better. If for some reason readers don’t like my second book as well as they’ve liked my first, I can learn from the experience and do my best to make the third book better. After all, we should all be striving to learn from our mistakes and make each book better than the last.
What's your greatest fear? Do you ever fear being a one-book wonder? And how forgiving are you of your favorite authors when they write a book you don't particularly like?
P.S. The winner of For the Love of the Reader Giveaway is Tessa Emily Hall! Congratulations Tessa! You win a $15 gift card to Chocomize.com! Thanks to everyone for participating in my special tribute to Readers!