One of my biggest trepidations when it came to putting both my book and myself out there in order to do this publishing thing was the innate and petrifying fear of rejection. I mean, everyone goes through it, and it’s simply a part of life. If you’re ever going to get what you want in this world, eventually you’re going to have to suffer some heartache in order to get it. Otherwise it wouldn’t be worth it, right?
And as my fellow authors will most certainly agree, the fear of people not liking your book is always hanging over you like a threatening, ominous cloud. Especially when you’re first starting out as an author, testing the waters with your first book, hoping to get noticed but only by people who will love your work and praise you…but not everyone is going to like your stuff, and some of them may even tell you they don’t like it. And when they do, it’s best to just accept the criticism, learn from it if you can, and move on.
At least, that’s what everyone says you should do. Whether or not most people actually follow that advice is up for debate, but at least authors can take solace in knowing that they are not alone in feeling their self esteem drop by several points after someone gives them a low rating on their precious and beloved novel. It’s not the end of the world, after all, and your book is not for everyone. Best to keep that in mind or else you’ll never want to write again.
I find myself suddenly drawing comparisons with this to other things I see in life, and in a lot of ways it cheers me up. For example, take American Idol (which is one of my favorite shows and I’m so hardcore about it that I not only went to a live taping of the show, gushed with delight when I spontaneously got to meet my favorite, Joshua Ledet, at a restaurant afterwards…but I am also going to see them on tour this summer. Yep, I’m a bit obsessed. So sue me).
But see, in American Idol, you’ve got these normal kids (I say kids because, as of right now, the four contestents are all younger than me by…gasp, four years or more. *feels old*) who come from these little towns people have never heard of, with only their family and friends supporting them, and they still have the guts to show up at the auditions and give it their all. Most of them understand that they will most likely not go through to the next round, much less win the title, but they try out anyways because they feel like they have something to offer this world. Something unique, something special, something the world is just dying to experience.
I look at the kids up there right now, and think about how it must feel to be in their shoes. Just a few months ago, they were nobody. No one had ever heard their name, seen their face outside of their hometown, or even heard their talented voices. And now they are basically celebrities, with people watching them and rooting for them every week, hoping they make it through to win. Fans! For the first time in their lives, they have fans! It must be so incredible, to start so small and through sheer hard work, determination, and a fighting spirit, make it through to claw your way to the very top.
In a lot of ways, writing a book and self publishing (or maybe even traditionally publishing, though I wouldn’t know what that’s like) is a lot like American Idol. I know the author community is less like a competition and more like, just that, a community, but in a lot of ways we are competing with each other. Especially if we’re in the same genre. We’re hoping that if a book lover only has a few bucks to spend, that she chooses our book over another’s, that maybe our cover art was better or our description more interesting. That’s why we make good covers, right? So that our books will sell? So even though we may not directly think we are competing with other authors, we are in fact doing just that.
But in the end, only a few authors ever get to the top of that list. And yet thankfully, much like American Idol, it’s a list that changes with each and every year, allowing more and more “contestants” to give it their best shot and try and snag a piece of the success pie at the top. And because of this opportunity, we see more and more people with the courage to put their work out there, publish their books and network and market their butts off, because we all have our eyes on the very attainable prize of recognition, success, and the thrill of knowing people out there love our work as much as we do.
So get out there, nip the fear of rejection in the bud, and give it your best shot!
To quote one of my all time favorite people, Ronald Reagan:
“Life is one grand, sweet song, so start the music.”