So both times I have published a book I’ve had some Pretty Big Feels over it . I’m a big believer in emotional honesty – every time I’ve shared things which make me sound weak, or an ass or are embarrassing I get really good feedback. The more people understand that they’re not alone with feeling weak, like an ass or embarrassed or anxious the better, I think.
Mostly at the point my book goes live, or the night before, I get a wave of anxiety.
Where are these feelings coming from?
A lot of places.
- I start feeling like I’m not good enough – that despite positive feedback from multiple beta readers and my editor – what if this book sucks and I actually can’t write?
- What if despite my writing being okay, no one buys it ever? (This is regardless of any preorders )
- What if people do buy it, and all rate it very low because I have inadvertantly written something super offensive/racist/terrible?
- I’ve forgotten some vital step of the publishing process, what is it?
Some of this stems from a doubt that I should have good things, or that I should get what I want. I have a lot of trouble believing I should be ‘allowed’ to have what I want, due to various things in my past.
Any big anxiety is bound to bring up other emotions as well. I might start feeling lonely because I haven’t seen X friend for a while, or that people don’t like me and are actively avoiding me. I might start thinking about shitty times in my past and revisit all those old hurts and emotions because y’know, why not?
This all manifests in stress, tension in my body, snappishness, feeling physically ill, heart racing, feeling miserable and a horrible temptation to pull the plug on the project before anyone can read it. (Again, this is regardless of however many beta-readers and ARC-readers I have already given it to).
So what do I do about it?
First, realising what’s going on helps. I don’t always connect the feeling with the cause right away, but if I sit and think about the emotions usually I can get there. Or I talk it through with my wife and she helps me find the connection.
Then it’s self care time. I make sure I’ve had something to drink (milo is good and comforting), something to eat, that my body is warm. Then I take a step back from the laptop and the process. Most likely I have done all the things I absolutely have to do and I’m just fussing. I can put the whole thing down and go off line.
Ideally I’d have a long hot bath, but I’m not currently living in a house with a bath so long hot shower is an okay substitute.
Early to bed. Or, if it’s really too early for bed, go get comfortable on top of bed with something to read. Catch up on comics, or whatever novel I’m reading at the time. Take my head somewhere else.
Going for a walk in the park usually makes me feel better but if I really need to get out of my head, I’ll do it with an audiobook or a walking meditation on headphones. Otherwise my brain might just keep on spiralling.
Reassurance is important as well. It’s hard to ask for – I don’t want to feel like a whiny needy annoyance – but looking back over past reviews or nice comments people have made can help. I even have a couple of pages in my bullet journal for nice things people have said that I want to remember.
My hope is that the more I do this self-publishing lark the easier it will get both in the actual process and emotionally.
Time will tell, but in the mean time, I remind myself that this is a great achievement. Part of me really tries not to believe this, because my Impostor Syndrome will fade if I believe it. I have to reassure myself and remind myself that I have come far.
My child self would be immensely proud to see the paperbacks of my books and hey, even if no one buys it, I got over that impostor syndrome wall and did it all the same.