A to Z Challenge

Ill-prepared: Fear of Success and of Failure

I is for Ill-prepared.

To continue with the theme for everything writerly, I decided to share what it’s like to suddenly be published without any warning.

In June/July last year I wrote stories for a competition. Not all of the stories I planned at that time could be written – some of them just weren’t ready. But as I worked on the theme for the anthology, I found that others I’ve written before were a good fit.

I was still suffering from burnout and it took a lot of effort to get the right words on the page. But I did it. I even broke through the weird block I had about writing in Afrikaans. The day of the deadline, I sent in my polished manuscript.

I was sure that I wouldn’t win. After all, there were others with publish-ready manuscripts and a lot more comments and support on the website.

So I sort of forgot about it and continued with other projects.

On the night of the INK Gala Evening I felt a little let down: none of my friends could make the event, I had a horrible feeling that I wouldn’t win anything, it was a long way to drive, etc.

And then I got the biggest surprise of the year: my anthology had won the competition, people had loved reading it, I got a box full of printed copies of my book, the room was filled with envy (and pride from my writing friends there).

Eens… is my first published book. Mine. All mine.

But what was I supposed to do with this… this unplanned publication?

I told a writing friend a couple of weeks later that it was like an unplanned pregnancy. But I think it’s more like suddenly finding yourself responsible for a baby.

And it is.

This writing baby has to find a proper home. So, I got it on the publisher’s website as a print on demand. And I had them convert it into an ebook and sell it on Kobo.

I was freaking out and I did the only thing I thought I could do: take the help offered.

In the months since, I’ve learned that I can hire professionals on Upwork to do all the things I thought I should go to a publishing partner to do. I learned that I don’t have to have the support of others to run my own author business. I can hire an entire team to do the things I cannot do – and I can get competitive prices.

I still get days where I feel like a fraud: what do I know about publishing anyway? What makes me think that my writing is good enough for someone to pay for it?

But I used some of my savings to turn that book into an audiobook (it’s in the final stages of “audio mastering” before it will be sold everywhere) and when I listen to my words read by someone else (or is it acting?), I can hear the genius that caused this anthology to win. And it chases away those doubts.

Hopefully the English version will be ready for sale in June/July. I’ll be doing a blog tour and all of that for both language editions at that time. Maybe then I’ll be a “real” author?

I still don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m learning from my own mistakes, from writing friends, from books I’ve bought to help and from doing what comes naturally. I even made a Pinterest storyboard for Eens…/Once… to make people excited for it (and perhaps myself?).

Winning the competition has given me something priceless: the confidence to become an Indie Author (sounds better than self-published author).

I’ve won other competitions too in 2017 and got published in anthologies along with other winning writers (see Cinderella Reimagined and Unbound) and they’ve helped too with the confidence thing.

I was ill-prepared for being published. I still fear failure and success. But I’m working on it.

What about you: do you fear success and failure? Have you ever been thrown into a situation you weren’t prepared for? I’ve set up a newsletter sign-up – you can get a free ebook – if you’d like to hear more about my writing adventures once a month (check the sidebar).

Sign up for my newsletter and receive a free ebook. I won’t share your information and I’ll only email you once a month with updates on new releases, special offers, and a bit of news.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *