Tuesday, October 9, 2018

What Are Writers Afraid Of?

Photo by HTO [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
Writers. We’re talking about the folks who create sci fi novels and don’t flinch when confronted with hostile aliens. And horror writers who deal with vampires, zombies, and werewolves (and worse yet, evil humans) without breaking a sweat. And romance writers who create tales of love and sex, the scariest experiences some people face during their lifetimes.

If a writer can handle vicious crimes, terrifying cartels, human trafficking, other tragedies of modern life, and even love, why aren’t they fearless in all things writing-related?

I can’t speak for others, but I can tell you what turns me into a squishy doubter of my abilities and ideas.

1. The sneaking suspicion I don’t know what I’m doing.


In spite of reading hundreds of books and taking many classes and workshops on writing craft, including plot development, point of view, dialogue, and common mistakes, I still screw up. A lot. Like my last manuscript in which I allowed ALL of my characters to develop a shrugging habit. Even worse, I did not catch this incompetence myself, in spite of numerous readings. Each time my editor digs into my manuscript, she returns enough questions and corrections to send me into a deep funk for at least a day or two before I get to work.

2. Fear that a gross error will get past my editor and proofreaders.


If such a mistake gets into the print and ebook editions, readers and reviewers might call attention to the goofs in reviews. Now that I’m writing historical fiction, there are even more opportunities to mess up. The timeline is critical. Words used as slang and even part of regular language need to be checked against word origin sources. Research of weapons, medical procedures, and even animals must be thorough. Did you know the Appaloosa horse was called a Palouse when first introduced in the U.S.? See what I mean?

3. Marketing and book promotion.


Seems like all the writers I know are on superspeed with their marketing efforts. I’m not keeping up. I’ve resolved to do better. For Instance, Colorado Humanities and our new online news publisher, Colorado Sun, have collaborated to promote the winners and finalists of this year’s Colorado Book Awards. My interview and book excerpt from Wishing Caswell Dead was part of the SunLit feature. Still, I fret about marketing and book promotion enough to lose sleep while trying to think of more ways to get the word out.

4. Social media.


Many publishers and agents seem to think authors need a big social media presence as part of a marketing plan. What I’ve found there, however, turns me off. I recently cleaned out my contacts on Facebook, hid some of my profile information, and now try to direct people to my author page. I mostly stick to updates or tweets about books, blog posts from my own site and the Blood-Red Pencil, writing, cats and dogs, and owls. I worry that publishers/agents might consider me a social media failure. I fret about missed opportunities for my number 3 worry about book promotion.

 5. Lousy sales. 


My books were originally published in hardcover and ebook. I have the ability to issue a trade paperback of each novel at a good price and promote like crazy, thus also increasing the likelihood of more ebook sales. I haven’t done it…yet. Sometimes I can be my own worst enemy because of intervening life events, trying to get a new book finished, the irresistible lure of a new project for NaNoWriMo, or simple procrastination. Or doubt that I can self-publish a paperback and do it well.

I’ve owned up to my worries and doubts. So what about you, writers? What are you afraid of?

Check out these related Blood-Red Pencil blog posts:

Writing’s Four-Letter Word: Fear
Tackling Historical Slang
Marketing & Selling: The Same?
 

Pat (Patricia) Stoltey is the author of four novels published by Five Star/Cengage: two amateur sleuth, one thriller that was a finalist for a Colorado Book Award in 2015, and the historical mystery Wishing Caswell Dead (December 20, 2017), a finalist for the 2018 Colorado Book Awards.

Pat lives in Northern Colorado with her husband Bill, Scottish Terrier Sassy (aka Doggity), and brown tabby Katie (aka Kitty Cat).

You can learn more about Pat at her website/blog, on Facebook, and Twitter. She was recently interviewed for a Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers podcast that you can find at the RMFW website.

12 comments :

  1. Errors that get past all of us, the marketing thing, and social media all nag at me with each book I write. Happily, I now have someone who will handle all the marketing, including the creation of of e-books. A friend and web designer has guided me in the development of my writing website, and she's always there to bail me out when I get in over my head. That leaves the undetected errors and inconsistencies that are the bane of most writers. I'm still working on overcoming that one, but great beta readers are a real help. Excellent post, Pat!

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    1. Thanks, Linda. In my third book, I had an error (wrong character name doing an action) that was not caught by me, my editor, the copy editor, or my own reread of the ARC. My husband caught it just in time to get the correction into the printed copy, thank goodness.

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  2. Wow, Pat. I must say I share in all of the above fears at one time or another. I think we writers all have that streak of insecurity that raises it's ugly head at times. I used to tell my writing class that that being basically insecure is one of the criteria for being an author. LOL

    Great post, and I'm sure your book will do well.

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    1. It's nice to know I have company, Maryann. Sometimes I have to get to a low point and decide to quit writing before I think, "No way!"

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  3. All the above at one time or another. I love the work. I don't like the marketing aspect. Some people love that part. I'm not one of them. But if you don't market, you can't sell. And if no one sees your work, is it worth it?

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    1. Excellent question, Diana. But every time I decide it's not worth it, something happens to re-energize me. It's a weird way to spend my time...

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  4. Sounds very familiar, Pat, especially #1! Working on my next novel now and feeling that one every day. We just have to press on, eh? :O)

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    1. I do keep pressing on...perhaps thinking someday I'll actually figure out what I'm doing. :D

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  5. All of the above!! I am so good at building mountains out of molehills--I should get an award for that! HaHa

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    1. LOL -- I could win an award for procrastination too.

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  6. Kaitlyn Dunnett has a bloopers page on her website, with admissions of guilt and stalwart defenses. I found this charming and visited from time to time just to see what was spotted, accurately or not.

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  7. I'm with Heidi. All of those. You couldn't have put it more plainly.

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.