Wednesday, December 03, 2014

All Writers Are at Least a Little Insecure

Today marks an exciting occasion--this is my first post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. If you haven't heard of this group, check it out. The first Wednesday of each month, the IWSG meets for the sole purpose of supporting and encouraging each other. What writer can't use a little support every now and then?


When you start writing, you're so focused on finding an agent and publisher, you rarely think beyond that initial goal. You assume that once you're published, red carpets will roll out and you'll be whisked away to the Hollywood premiere of the movie version of your bestseller.


But that doesn't happen. The date of your book release approaches and...guess what? You have no idea what you're doing.


Doctors prepare for years for their first surgery. They practice. They study. They watch mentors. Writers prepare for years to become better writers. Booksignings? School visits? Interviews with local publications? Notsomuch.



So you play it by ear, but all the while you're sure everyone else knows what they're doing but you. As you go to conferences and network with other published authors, however, you realize that's not at all true. In fact, very few published authors know what to do in the weeks leading up to release day. This goes for traditionally-published authors, as well as those who are self published. All you can do is ask for advice and play it by ear and hope you aren't doing it all wrong.

If you'd like to join in on the IWSG, add your link here and post your blog the first Wednesday of each month. It's a wonderful, supportive group.

108 comments:

  1. I can relate to that. You'd think by my fourth book, I'd have a clue what I'm doing. I do know a little, but there are some new things I'm going to try and I have no idea what will happen.
    Welcome to the IWSG! You are in the right place.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know--they don't really teach this stuff. I started writing during a time when books were in physical bookstores. It's all changed because of Amazon and social media. You've gathered quite an amazing group, Alex! I think half the blogging community is part of IWSG!

      Delete
  2. Good first IWSG post! Sometimes I wish there was more of a structure for learning these things, like medical or law school. But other times, I'm glad for being able to figure things out on my own, at my own pace, etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True, Madeline. Writers' groups help. I started in Romance Writers of America but I don't remember them discussing promotion that much. Just go to bookstores, do signings, do workshops at conferences, and you're there. Things have changed since then, plus promoting to children is a little trickier!

      Delete
  3. I had never thought about what you have to do besides write and get an agent. It does sound a bit overwhelming.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very! You assume you'll know what to do once the big release day arrives but as it draws closer, you realize nope. No miracle knowledge! I never had a baby but I imagine going into labor is probably scary in the same way.

      Delete
  4. I think that most people count on destiny and a chance, and don't have plans. And in my medical experience that goes even for most of the doctors....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL, yeah, I guess that's probably true. Although when lives are hanging in the balance, it's probably much scarier than releasing a book.Way more at stake when you're doing brain surgery.

      Delete
  5. Oh boy, I remember when I first started. I was clueless. I know a bit more now, but there's still so much to learn.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess we're always learning? Unless you become super successful--then you just hide.

      Delete
  6. I never thought about it from this angle but you are so right, there really isn't a whole lot you can do to prepare other than go out and do it.

    I never thought about how nerve wracking that would be. I don't think I could do it and I admire those that can!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know if I'll ever be less than terrified about getting up in front of a roomful of children!

      Delete
  7. You did great for your first post for IWSG! You gave me things to think about that I hadn't thought of before. I just assumed an agent would guide you through the process or do the work for the author. It is good too to learn from others, and I'm sure you have learned and will continue to learn and then share with others as they begin their writing journey :)

    betty

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. An agent takes care of things I'd never, ever want to do--making sure the contract protects the author, negotiates, etc. She also submits your work to publishing houses on your behalf using her knowledge and the connections she has worked hard to form.

      Some people hire publicists but I've heard negative things about this, so I'm not sure they're worth it. In this social media era, more can be done by the author than a publicist who has no personal stake in the book's success. I think publicists submit press releases and set up school visits in some cases...but you can also do that yourself.

      Delete
  8. i like how you do support one another and share each others' successes here, too. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure how I ended up reading so many IWSG blogs--I know many of the same people are also involved with the A to Z challenge, which was where I met a lot of great bloggers. It's definitely a very strong group!

      Delete
  9. This is an awesome group. So glad you joined! It's great to talk about our insecurities, hopes and dreams.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I did my very first IWSG post over on my group blog this month and it was way more therapeutic than I thought. Mine is writing while on sub--very difficult for me without the book deal, but of course I push through b/c, well, we're writers, so we write!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm with you on that! You write something and wait to hear back...in the meantime, what are you supposed to do? Keep writing? But if you're writing something for your current publisher, all they need is a partial and I can write a partial in a week! I recently wrote THREE partials and sent them to my agent. Hopefully she'll find one she likes in those three but if not, I can come up with three more!

      Delete
  11. Would love to join your group...
    See u there...:-P

    ReplyDelete
  12. I have my 4th book coming out in February and I still don't know what I'm doing. I guess it's good to know writer's and author's are struggling with similar insecurities!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Will we ever know? Probably not. Marketers use all kinds of fancy tools to analyze their results. You can sign up for analytics to see what's working in your blogging/social media efforts...see how many visits you got from posting certain things and such. But if you send promotional material by mail, it's a lot harder to measure results.

      Delete
  13. This has definitely been a "learn by doing" experience for me. And there's no end in sight as far as that learning how to do it right is concerned.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The problem with technology is that it's always changing--so even if we could learn everything, it would change by the next book release! I write for a lot of marketing firms and I'm always learning what the "in" marketing technology will be this year. It's pretty easy to find out, though--"top marketing trends for 2015" can give you an idea of what a publicist would likely do for you online.

      Delete
  14. I'm thankful for everyone I've met online who have shared their trials and findings. This group especially reminds me that I'm not alone, and others struggle just as much as I do.

    Thank goodness for other writers. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We all struggle--and it's interesting that so many want to be writers! It seems more people want to write a book than want to make videos or go into the film business...

      Delete
  15. All my lessons have come from other writers and the internet. Thank you internet (which is how I find these writers in the first place) and writers. IWSG is such a great place. Who cares if it's virtual?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've learned just as much from all of you as I used to learn in monthly writer's meetings when I was a member of RWA. That's not to say the face-to-face isn't useful, but this at least cuts down on the need to travel all over the country to go to conferences!

      Delete
  16. The struggles seem to go across the board and even though I hate to see others struggle as I have, it's a bit of comfort to know we are in the same boat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the only reason big-name authors know what they're doing is that they have publicists handling it all!

      Delete
  17. Plus its so ever changing and so many other things to try, that you can be at your wits end trying to keep up with it all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true...all you can do is your best.

      Delete
  18. Having support is a great thing. Good for you.

    I've never wanted to be a writer, so I've no idea about the ins and outs, but it sounds like this group will be of great help.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Seems writers need more support than those who choose other professions!

      Delete
  19. Welcome!! This is such a great post and shows how much extra goes into your book that just writing it. It does sound overwhelming and there is no school to teach you these things either

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I once met an author who said she hated writing but she loved going out and speaking about her books, so she kept writing books and they kept publishing them. I found that odd... Seems if you love public speaking that much, there are easier ways to go about it!

      Delete
  20. Whatever you writers are doing - please keep doing it. And remember that there are bookaholics cheering you on. Always.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay for bookaholics! I'm also glad that people are encouraging their children to continue reading even with so many electronic distractions today!

      Delete
  21. Read through the comments and this is a very supportive group of people. Glad I stopped by.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Definitely--and check out Alex's blog (top commenter). Every time he posts a blog, he gets hundreds of comments. The man is a blogging god!

      Delete
  22. Very interesting, Stephanie. I suppose if I considered myself a writer I'd have my questions of what to do to make it better. But I'm a blogger and go from site to site, simply enjoying the variety of life and it's spice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you're blogging, you're a writer!

      Delete
  23. I thought the agent or someone at the publishing company would take care of these things for you - otherwise, why not just self-publish? Welcome to IWSG.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I find it very interesting that most people say that. Traditional publishers have promotions departments that are much smaller than they used to be--thus, most authors have to get the word out ourselves. However, they do have the ability to get you into bookstores. I also found that dropping the "Simon & Schuster" name at libraries and bookstores makes them listen. Many bookstores I visited wouldn't even consider carrying my book unless they could order it from Ingram. That was the first question I was asked at every bookstore I visited.

      Delete
  24. Is there a wrong way to do it? Really? I wonder. I mean, if the book is out there, you're doing something right. And it's not like in the "olden days" when books would disappear from store shelves. They can live on for years in electronic format.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I found that with the first book, it's mostly about introducing yourself to all of the local bookstores and libraries so they're familiar with you. Now that I've done that, I'm sending them things to remind them my book is coming out. First a postcard, next bookmarks, then a copy of the book...if I can get my hands on some copies this month. I'm desperately trying! But for traditionally-published books, eventually it goes out of print unless the orders keep coming in. I see some from several years ago that are still on Amazon, though, so they do stay in circulation for quite a while.

      Delete
  25. I think that everyone probably feels like "everyone knows what they're doing but me!" You just have to fake it till you make it. And if all else fails, just be yourself. Welcome to IWSG:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's it--we're all just pretending until we figure it out!

      Delete
  26. When I was a lot younger, I naïvely believed I'd immediately, automatically become rich and famous, and that I'd be published by the time I was 18, if not 14. While I now know it's a lot of hard work to become a famous writer, let alone rich, my dream goal is still to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Even if it never happens, it's a nice fantasy to have.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Nobel Prize is definitely a nice goal! I saw a special once that said that true happiness comes in "hope for the future." As long as you always have something to strive toward and dream about, you'll be happy!

      Delete
  27. Yay! Welcome to IWSG!! Wonderful post, Stephanie. I guess I haven't thought too much about what happens on the "other side" of writing the book. But I guess it's never too late to start thinking and planning!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are so many things to worry about before you're published--but you definitely have plenty to worry about after, as well!

      Delete
  28. It definitely helps to talk to other writers. At least we know we're not bumbling along alone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's why the IWSG is so popular...it provides that sense of community.

      Delete
  29. Welcome to the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

    There are a lot of resources as far as books, websites, and other authors. I've taught seminars on book promotion for 7 years, but I still learn new things, and the industry is changing so fast, that what worked yesterday won't work tomorrow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can imagine there would be a HUGE demand for book promotion seminars!

      Delete
  30. Excellent post.
    It's so true.
    We are all walking around blind until we have some experience under our belts.
    Heather

    ReplyDelete
  31. Insecure Writers Group?!? Sounds like someone was reading my mind! I've got to check this out!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Alex is awesome. You should definitely join in. This same group also does the A to Z Challenge in April, which is how I met about 75 percent of the people who comment here every day!

      Delete
  32. Great post, Stephanie. Publishing is way, way harder than writers expect. My post is a bit along these lines - but more like how things can go wrong...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true--publishing and writing are both difficult but amazing at the same time. People don't realize the difficult part going in.

      Delete
  33. Yep, that's what we all do. Writing is the fun part. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Writing is definitely fun, but work, too!

      Delete
  34. Asking for advice is key! So awesome that so many authors out there are willing to share what they know. :) Loved this post! Awesome job on your first ISWG post! :)
    ~Jess

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think because writing can be lonely for the most part.

      Delete
  35. Ah yes I'm sure it's difficult and stressful too.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Hey Stephanie. Your first post. Wow! And thanks for your input. It's always good to hear how it's hard for everyone, not just me! No easy road.

    Denise:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We're all in this together, though. There's comfort in that!

      Delete
  37. I play things by ear, use things that have worked, look for new strategies, and ditch ones that didn't work.

    I'm glad you joined the IWSG.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're awesome at promotion, Medeia!

      Delete
  38. Welcome to the IWSG. I thought traditional authors are briefed on what to expect and coached on how book signing are to be done. The fact that all authors are left to figure things out on their own is scary, but its comforting to know all authors will have to go through it. Luckily writers in the blogging world don't mind answering questions and providing advice once someone is in need of it.

    Don't feel bad about your bad client. Usually it just means they don't want to pay for work completed and use their dissatisfaction as a way to get the work for free. I used to work as a copywriter and had that happen to me a lot. I hope you have a better day today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm attending a Twitter boot camp today hosted by my publisher. They do these every few months and they're great. There are things...but someone told me that as the internet and social media came of age, publishers realized that authors do a better job at that part of it than publishers can--and that's really true. We're really the best advocates for our own work.

      Delete
  39. Where was IWSG when I was in high school? Sounds like an interesting group.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish it had been around when I started writing, but I started writing before blogging existed. Oh, heck, who am I kidding? I started writing in that brief time before Windows 95. I had a dot matrix computer and one of those old computers with a black screen and green text. There wasn't even INTERNET on my computer when I started writing! I feel old.

      Delete
  40. great advice. nice to meet a fellow IWSG-er.

    ReplyDelete
  41. What a great group! The writing community is truly awesome. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This group is a very supportive blogging community, I've found!

      Delete
  42. Writers, like actors, are never quite sure of how good they really are. It is the human condition I guess. Shari is right: our cyber-writing community is awesome. Thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for visiting mine, as well. Yeah, it's tough to know how we're doing because our work is so subjective.

      Delete
  43. What a great post, Stephanie. I have read books all my life, all the time, and not until I became friends with some writers on the blogs did I ever ask myself how those books became real and available for me to read. I know it can't be easy and I hope that groups like this one will help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Definitely not easy but nothing worth doing is!

      Delete
  44. Welcome to the IWSG!
    Due to the unique nature of the writerly journey, it will never be a one-size-fits-all type of venture... trial and error is probably the only way.
    And there's the help and support of those experienced authors who have gone before...and an amazing online community!
    At least we are not alone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I see so many supportive online groups--I was around when the internet was new and we were all joining forums on AOL about writing! I was even part of several Yahoo Groups back in the day that were bustling with writers...people could get pretty nasty on those, though. So far the blogging community is the only one I've seen where everyone is friendly and supportive and you rarely see any meanness.

      Delete
  45. I read someone's comment above "Where was ISWG when I was in high school?" And LOL! I couldn't agree more. I think I'll be posting later tonight--unfortunately a day late, but your post inspired the insecurity I've been having lately about my current work and the focus on agents and publishers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad I inspired you! This happens the first Wednesday of every month, but you don't have to wait to post about your insecurities. We'll all relate any time of the month, for sure! In high school, I just needed to join a group for people with insecurities in general. I wasn't comfortable with anything I did!

      Delete
  46. Maybe we should practice to be authors before we're published. How, I don't know, but I'm sure it'd help. The key is to keep learning and being willing to try new things. That said, I still definitely haven't figured it all out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sit at a table in a bookstore and give people directions to the bathroom. That seems to be the experience of booksignings!!! I've had one booksigning where nobody showed up and a couple of events where I had a crowd. The best thing I did was a carnival at a school. That was SO much fun and the kids were lining up to enter a drawing to win my book.

      Delete
  47. I'd never thought about it that way. LOL One more thing I'm doing for which there's no school or manual (parenting being the big other one). I must like this kind of life...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it's a lot like parenting in that you have no idea what you're doing and you only find out it doesn't just "come to you" after you're in the middle of it! Although parenting is MUCH harder than writing.

      Delete
  48. I was always wanted to be a hermit writer, just sending my dusty hand-written manuscript off to a grateful publisher. Modern publicity means that's a long-lost dream :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true! Although after you're really successful, you can still be a hermit. Just hide in your house and tweet and "limit your public appearances" like a lot of famous authors do!

      Delete
  49. I often feel like I'm stumbling around in the dark, but it's good to know it's normal ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Definitely! I had a problem today that I can't ask ANYONE about. I posted it to a secret group I'm on full of MG writers and I'm hoping someone will have some insight. If not, I'm just going to post it here and see what you guys think!

      Delete
  50. It is great that you get an opportunity for such support from your colleagues. I can't imagine in my wildest dreams what it would be like to be published. Hats off to you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't really imagine it either. I wonder at what point authors really feel like they've "made it."

      Delete
  51. Great post. I'm not a writer, but I can only imagine the stress! It's like you need to business mavens and social media superstars, not to mention being writers as well!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True! And not all creative people are good at the business stuff. Those who are might not be the best at marketing.

      Delete
  52. Absolutely true! I've felt like this just about every step of the way in my writing journey, like everyone else was reading some guide or how to that I wasn't lol. Have a great holiday!
    Ninja Girl

    ReplyDelete
  53. I didn't realize you'd joined IWSG, Stephanie--congrats! It IS a great group. I'm looking forward to your insights on the first Wednesday of every month.

    ReplyDelete
  54. congrats on joining! you popped your iwsg cherry. it's good to have us here because sometimes we just feed off each other when we don't know the answers :)

    ReplyDelete
  55. Great point, Stephanie. We haven't prepared for the publishing aspect and have to often learn as we go. I've learned a lot since my first book launched in 2010 and still have so much more to absorb. I think we all can visualize our books as amazing movies!

    ReplyDelete
  56. Welcome to IWSG, Stephanie! Your picture of the "lost person" street signs- I used to feel that way quite a bit before I learned to embrace the roadblocks as being simply learning opportunities in my writing journey, of which I've had many.

    ReplyDelete
  57. I know you'll be a great addition to the IWSG, Stephanie! Good points about taking courses for so many things in life, yet many writers aren't prepared for the long road ahead. That's why The IWSG Guide is such a useful resource, and the group continues to provide ongoing support.

    Julie

    ReplyDelete