Warning, warning. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has issued an all-points bulletin for authors.
Authors may be suffering from a dreaded disease and not even know they’re infected.
Well, okay, so not really. But all authors, those as well-known as Steven King and those of us with, well, let’s say, a slightly smaller readership, suffer from the same condition. It’s one I call “mynewbooksucksaphobia.”
Mynewbooksucksaphobia is that painfully familiar fear that every author faces. It’s when we believe our new release is going to disappoint readers. We’ve spent countless hours writing the perfect story, gone through rounds of grammar correction, found all the punctuation errors, and done a full-blown edit with a professional editor.
But what’s the next thing out of our mouths? “They’ll hate it!” we’ll say. “They’ll give it the dreaded one-star review and leave a comment like, ‘He’s a hack. Don’t buy this book.'”
When I suffer from mynewbooksucksaphobia, my fellow author friends tell me that I’m mistaken. “It will be okay,” they say to me. “All of us go through this torment of self-doubt, but in the end, you’ll see. Your readers will love your book.” And I love my fellow authors for propping me up in this way. It makes me feel so much better.
And then I sit back and watch my novel as it publishes. And what happens? Good reviews! Thrilled readers. And I say, “Holy sh*%# Batman, my readers do like my new novel. In fact, they love it! Golly, I guess all that self-doubt was just in my head!”
Well, maybe not
My belief is that there is merit to the self-doubt. I believe the self-doubt is my sub-conscious telling my conscious mind that, “This book could be even better.”
Think about it in these terms. You’re an author, right? Do you believe in the muse? Maybe you don’t, but I do. I don’t think of her as some all-controlling being that will either let me write words or not. But I do think she’s there. Hell, I’ve even heard her voice, and it sounded like the quiet whisper of an angel. She wasn’t berating me, telling me my writing sucked. She was pulling me along, gently, coaxing me into a story that seemed to tell itself.
What I believe is, as I’m getting close to releasing a book, she’s whispering to me. She’s saying, “This is really good, but it could be better.” She says, “Your protagonist is wonderful, but she could have so much more feeling. Your antagonist is great, he’s really evil! But if you let the reader peer into his mind, his thoughts, his feelings, his fears, he would come to life and jump right off the page!”
As for me, I pay attention to the muse, both when she’s pulling me forward, and when she’s gently tugging me back.
Mynewbooksucksaphobia isn’t something you should simply ignore, it’s a sign of something important.
It’s that little voice inside your head telling you, “You can do even better.”