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Why Haven’t You Written Your Book? (Part 3 of 4)

The is Part 3 of a four-part series reporting on the “Why Haven’t You Written Your Book?” survey we offered last year. You can read Part 2 here.

I’m afraid to write (or submit) my book because …

A clear margin shows that the two highest-ranked responses held true for most authors, while the remaining three ranked very close together. Here is how all of the answers ranked:

  1. I don’t know if it will be any good.
  2. I don’t know how to distribute/market it.
  3. I don’t think anyone will read it.
  4. I’m afraid people will judge me.
  5. I don’t know how to turn it from a manuscript into a real book.

Based on these results, we might conclude that writers:

  • suffer fears about the quality of their work. There are likely many reasons for this, the discussion of which is potentially fodder for (many) future blog posts. Certainly, however, the generic rejection letters returned by the vast majority of publishers are of little help, in terms of offering authors insights into why their story might have been rejected and how to improve in the future. One of the interesting things that we’ve observed in relation to this item is how many authors, after completing the milestone of publishing their first book, seem to feel the stress even greater with their second book, fearing that the same creative lightning won’t strike twice.
  • don’t understand — or are intimidated by — by the process, even for self-publishing, of taking a story from completed manuscript to saleable format and then market it. Not all authors want, or have time to, develop the skill sets necessary to do this. This is one area in which publishers can add value for the author. Many authors can grasp the basic understanding behind what it takes to create a printed edition of a book, but generating a digital edition feels technical, complicated, and somewhat magical.
  • are afraid that, once they have completed and published their work, they will fail to find an audience for it. This is why getting the word out about it (marketing and promotion) is so important (which, of course, leads back to #2). One way to reduce this fear is by finding your audience (and helping your audience find you) by talking about your book before it even comes out, to help create demand and develop an audience well before it becomes available for sale.
  • fear what people might think about them or their work while reading. It’s no secret that stories often reveal as much about the writer as they do to the reader, so this can be a daunting fear for many authors. This can be tough to get past, “What will my friends and family think?” This is also, of course, why pseudonyms are a thing. This is something that authors need to be prepared for because, even if their response might be “That’s nothing like me! It’s just how the character behaves.” or the infamous “I based that character on someone I know …”

Next week, we will be looking at how authors responded to “I would consider my book to be a success if …“.

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