Thursday, August 25, 2011

There's Nothing to Fear But--Eek! What Was That?

This week has been a little hectic, so I dug into the archives a bit. I found this post on second-book jitters, and realized there's also second-contract jitters. As in, "will I get one?"  I'm working on my option book right now, but there's no guarantee I'll sell it. (an option book is the book your publisher has the option to buy, right of first refusal before you start shopping it elsewhere) Similar pressures, new book, same old fears. And so much of that original post still applies. (with tweaks of course)

Just like with those second-book jitters, the fear is a good thing, as I'm double checking my stakes, tightening my pacing, and (though not as bad) freaking out over every little detail. I'm still not letting this whole "getting published" thing go to my head and resting on my laurels. No, "I sold a book, so therefore, all my words are gold dipped in chocolate." I feel the pressure to do better, maybe even more so now that I have a series out there. Unless you break out big with your first book(s), you're going to feel pressure on your next one. Heck, maybe those who break out big feel even more pressure since the stakes are higher for them.

It's interesting being a sophomore writer. You've been through the process a few times, your first contract has been fulfilled, and now it's time to go for the second. I'm more focused this time on writing something I can sell, but I still want to be true to my own stories. But I know how readers reacted to my books, what they liked, what they didn't, what books wow'd me over these last three years and why. When I first started the whole process, I just assumed I'd write another book and all would be well. In most ways that's true. I did write another book and in all likelihood, all will be well.

Except there's that panic. (same as with book two)

What if it sucks?

What if they think it's so bad they print it out just to tear it up and send it back to me in a box with giant red "YOU SUCK" stamps all over the broken, shredded pages? What if they TURN IT DOWN and I lose my awesome editor and publishing team? And the really horrible keep-you-up-at-night fear? What if the dream goes away? What if The Healing Wars is the only thing I ever publish?


One good thing about the option book, is that I don't have that "what if I'm a bad writer?" fear at all. I've already gotten that validation from my agent, editor, and fans (holy cow, I have fans! That's still surreal)  so I'm good there. I can relax about that part. But I worry even more about the book itself.

Because now I have readers I don't want to let down.

Is this story good enough? has added pressures.

It's pretty weird, really. So far, everyone I've talked to about the new book has loved it (my agent and editor included), and during school visits I get asked when it's coming out (even though I haven't sold it yet). I do feel hopeful about it, but I also want to be realistic. I know how publishing works and you don't want to take anything for granted. 

Like book two, it helps to know there are those great folks in my corner ready, willing, and able to help me if I fall on my face. And I think that's where the biggest fear comes from. Even more now, I don't want to let those people down. They took a chance on me. They're my literary fairy godmothers. I want them to rest easy and not worry I'm going to go all pumpkin on them at the stroke of twelve. One-book wonder, one-series wonder, same difference, right?

To misquote Michael Douglas..."fear, is good." It pushes us to do better and reach farther. To not take what we've achieved (no matter what level we're at) for granted. To appreciate our successes, from a partial request to a multi-book deal. Because the day we stop striving to be better is the day we start to fail. We just have to remember to breathe and not let that fear keep us from striving toward our goals and our dreams. We'll never make it if we don't try.

What scares you? What fears have you overcome? What has helped you get over them? 


  1. Janice you definitely don't suck. If you need a little boost I have a compliment for you. I started reading The Shifter to my 10 year old son. When we stopped reading for the night he begged for more. Then he stayed up late reading it on his own, got up early to read it before school, and took it to school to read more. If that isn't the best compliment I don't know what is.

    I talk a little bit about it on my blog today.

    I have no doubt your new book will get picked up! It sounds amazing :)

  2. That's awesome your agent and editor like your new book so far. I constsntly worry about if I'm good enough, will I get an agent and publisher, and can I handle it with work.

  3. Angie, aw, thanks :) And wow, what a great compliment! Thanks for letting me know. That'll have me smiling all month.

    Natalie, It was a HUGE relief. I think we all have that same worry, but you are the one in control of your own career. If it takes you longer to write a book due to your schedule, so what? And if you worry about being good enough, that means you're striving to improve, so you'll get there!