Digging this one up from the archives, because good advice never goes out of style! And neither do writers' fears.
Hats off again to Sylvia for her words of wisdom.
Writers often express common fears when talking with agents, editors, and other authors. The advice I offer below is based in part on my own experience and in part on interviews I have completed with agents and editors.
Rejection and Inadequacy - This is the most common fear because it’s the hardest to let go. You question if your work is worthy of publication. You feel it as a first timer wondering if you’ll ever find someone to like your finished product. And this feeling will still sneak up on you as a multi published author worrying if the next creation will be as successful. Rejection happens. You can’t please everyone all the time. Shelves are lined with the books of famous authors who suffered repeated rejection. The key is, they never gave up. They continued improving and searching for the right market. You can too.
Success - Many people are afraid of success. They believe too much will be expected of them and the thought of everything becoming too big to handle is enough to paralyze them into doing nothing. The trick is to deal with the situation one step at a time. Worry about success when you get there.
Revealing Too Much - There are times writers expose so much of their soul, inner demons, dreams, hopes, and beliefs that a project can become very journal like. You begin to fear you are revealing too much of yourself. Maybe family and friends who read the book will see right through the characters, and to the true depiction of yourself (or worse yet, one of them). Relax. Every great writer draws from experience, as well as the heart. The relationship you have to the story is what makes it memorable. It’s what will hook and never release a reader. And the truth is, someone will see themselves in your story whether that was your intention or not. That means you’ve been successful at capturing human experience.
You’re Too Old - You’re never too old. I know a thirteen year old who has just published her first book, but it’s nowhere as moving as the first book my friend published in her seventies. With age comes experience. Experience adds depth and maturity to your writing. A novel requires patience - something young authors often lack.
Too Much Research - Details are important in a novel. You have to know the period in which the story is set, details of characters’ occupations, nuances of different cultures, etc. Enjoy the research. Learn about your characters and the world they live in. Try writing articles, blogs, or ebooks based on the new things you are learning (these can prove to an agent or editor that you are highly qualified to write on your topic – even if the book is fiction). Don’t consider learning a job. It can be a fun hobby as well as a lucrative side project.
Technology - If you’re only comfortable using a word document, and have yet to learn anything else about your computer, the thought of mastering the technology involved in submitting and publishing might be intimidating. The great news is that it’s all relatively simple to learn and use. You can take the time to learn to do it yourself, or there are many others you can hire to help with everything from formatting, to cover design, to marketing. Shop around and ask for recommendations.
Marketing - Some people are natural marketers: confident, charismatic, and with an instinctive grasp of what benefits will entice their audience. Others find marketing uncomfortable at first. Marketing may not come naturally to you, but you’re perfectly capable of it. You are simply letting people know what you can do for them. Focus on your audience in your marketing. Instead of trying to write about how great your work is, write about how it can help them. Start an email list, create social media accounts (facebook, twitter, pinterest, etc.), use your own blog, guest post on other sites.
If one of these fears has been holding you back, decide today how you’re going to move forward. If you want to ask specific questions, I encourage you to leave a comment below or read Jane Friedman, Rachelle Gardner, Noah Lukeman, and Chuck Sambuchino. Other agents are helpful as well, but these four have FREE information available on their websites/blogs.
Awesome advice, Sylvia! I know from experience those four names you suggest are fantastic resources for writers. So go ahead, guys, check it out and vanquish those pesky fears and doubts!