Self Publishing Banishes The Fear of Writing

Freedom Soaring

Freedom Soaring

Warning: Personal, sentimental post!

In the last few weeks, I have been considering writing fiction. Shock horror!

For a non-fiction author, this feels like an almighty shift within me. I wanted to share this change with you, because I think many writers feel the same way.

I didn’t write a book for many years because I was afraid. Fear of rejection. Fear of failure. The usual reasons. I didn’t think I wrote well enough. Why would anyone want to read what I wrote anyway…. You know what I mean!

I wrote my first book because it became a burning need to change my own life. I self-published to get the message out there regardless of what any establishment thought. I wrote the next 2 books and started this blog because I wanted to share how amazing the world is for authors now, and communicate how other people can achieve their book-dreams also.

It has been 14 months since I self-published my first book, and I am about to get the 2nd and 3rd onto Wow! I couldn’t write for over 20 years because I was afraid of failing. Now I am writing every day, and desperate to find more time to write other things!

OK, so I am not a best-selling author (yet!). But my books help people, I am useful and that is my own success. I get emails from people who like what I write, comments on the blog and positive tweets. This is much more feedback that I ever got from my own silent diaries, full of unrequited writing.

Self-publishing has liberated me from fear because it enables me to reach people on my own terms. I know that on the internet people will find me who want to read what I write.

I want to write more. I want to try all kinds of writing. I am already spinning ideas in my head and I have NaNoWriMo (November) in my head as a time set aside to write this fiction piece.  I don’t feel silly saying this anymore, because I have learned the fun and play there is in writing.

I am also inspired by the podcasters I am meeting online and listening to: JC Hutchins, Seth Harwood, Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris. I am loving their stories and their success with reaching out across the world. They challenge me to write and to express as well.

I truly believe that the experience of self-publishing has banished my fear of writing. It has not made me a millionaire in money, but I am all the richer for the experience. By releasing the fear and enabling my first book, it paved the way for the next 2, and who knows how many more. I am 34 right now. Prolific writers get through at least 1 per year, so that makes a good 60 more before I pop off!

To those readers thinking about writing a book – do it now. Self-publish it and get over your fear. Your next book will be the better for you getting the first out of the way.

To self-published readers – what has self-publishing done for you?

Image Credit: Flikr Creative Commons ArchanaR Freedom

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  1. says

    You should go for it Joanna.
    However do be warned. Writing fiction is easy. Writing good fiction is very hard. Making money from writing fiction, either self or traditionally published, is harder yet again.
    But nothing beats the feeling of holding your own book in your hands :)

  2. says

    I’d have to agree with this thought.

    I have a similar story, though haven’t actually self-published.

    Twenty years of those same fears and doubts, though admittedly when I start out as a teenager I had a much higher opinion and thought I’d be the Next Big Thing. Luckily I quickly grew out of that before embarrassing myself.

    Lately I finished (for a given value of finished) a collection of short stories and compiled them into a PDF and shared them on a couple of websites I frequent. Much to my surprise I got a response very soon after from someone who had read it and though very highly of it, and couldn’t wait for the next lot, which I said I was working on. In fact he said I should start charging for it, though I wouldn’t say it is quite up to that standard yet.

    It certainly has done a world of good to the old confidence and got me working hard on getting the next lot done.

  3. Adrian Dayton says

    I couldn’t agree more. I finally found a traditional publisher to publish my first book, and now I can’t wait to get my second book published. In fact, I am so anxious that I am just going to self publish and get it out there. Why wait? Self publishing is so fast and inexpensive that my opinions is that if you have something to say, write it down- and get published.

  4. Ashli says

    I totally related to this. About a year ago, I had stalled on my book. And then I just told myself, “I’ll self publish it.” And that did it – I totally could write again. I finished it. The ironic thing is now being evaluated by a traditional publisher, but just having that mindset that I’d do it my self liberated me to focus on the writing.

  5. says

    Just keep writing. Worrying about the reception of your work has never made anyone’s book better or worse, although it has been the cause of a great deal of paralysis by analysis.

    I love your ‘Author 2.0′ concept. The only way in which I ?think we vary is that you posit that it will make you more appealing to publishing houses. I say: it will make you more appealing and raise your visibility to the people who really matter: your potential readers.

    Forget publishers.

    Content will find its own readership, if you help it find its feet in the world via effective SEO/SEM and community-building.

  6. says

    Thank you for encouraging self publishing and for sharing your story! I’ve engaged in ‘radical’ self publishing (ISBN-free, purposely not selling through Amazon or BN) from the very beginning, when I published a niche career guide for a very specific audience. I enjoy the entire creative process although I’ll admit, by the time I was done with the book I was DONE with the book (but then the editing phase begins)! I recently published my second book for another microniche and I can’t wait to self-publish again.

  7. says

    Thanks Andrew – I still think some people would like a traditional publishing contract and the platform building helps them – plus the process educates people all the way to self-pub and community building once you start in that direction.

    Thanks Jane, radical self-pub sounds very cool! Glad you have your ‘tribe’ all ready for your work – that’s exactly the way it should be done! Thanks for sharing!


  8. says

    Hi Joanna

    I’d never really seen myself as a writer even though I’ve written most of my adult life. But my writing was always done in a business context: proposals, reports, manuals, methods and the best damned letters around. I was often approached by people who knew someone who knew that I had a gift for the exact turn of phrase needed to communicate a difficult idea. But I never really considered that to be writing. I mean, in my book, any idiot could that! (As an aside, I now pay attention for that dismissive attitude towards ANYTHING in one of my life transition coaching clients. It usually points to one of their great strengths that they totally dismiss. My response to them typically is ‘no, not any idiot can do that. It takes a special idiot to be good at that!’)

    But I digress. My beginnings as a ‘writer’ really happened several years ago when a business partner and I were offering a series of specialized personal growth coaching certification programs. At the final level folks had to write a closed-book exam. I can still remember two startling insights: one morning I sat on the side of my bed and thought ‘shit, they have to have a study guide to get them ready for the exam. I guess I’m going to have to write one.’ And then several weeks later as I was plugging away at writing that ‘study guide’ I really realized that I was writing a book.

    My business partner had already self-published two of her own books so I had a mentor for the process of getting my first book out there. It wasn’t hard from a technical perspective, but it was often terrifying from an identity perspective. What if everyone thought I was an idiot? What if people were underwhelmed by my understanding of my topic? etc., etc. But the big thing was that I got it out there.

    Not long after I produced a chapter in a collaborative book telling the stories of 17 women who had life altering experiences.

    Last year I wrote and illustrated a small book of my life stories, poems, photos and paintings as a 60th birthday present for my husband. I published it through Lulu and then customized two separate additional versions for each of my step-daughters. By the time I’d completed those, I realized that I had an inspirational book on my hands. Interesting that your Twitter post showed up today because I just put the finishing touches on that ‘Choosing Life’ book this afternoon and will be uploading it to Lulu next week!

    I have 2 other books about 70% written (one for beginning artists; the other about business start-up) and recently downloaded a whole pile of blog postings about retirement. I realized that I have about 35K words about retirement already written so I guess there’s another book almost done. Whew! No wonder I feel overwhelmed sometimes.

    All that to say, I find that my ‘best’ approach to writing a book is to back into it! I usually don’t start out to write a book. I start out to write about something I’m passionate about and that I think I have a contribution to make around. And the book just evolves from that.

    I think that we live in a truly magical time for anyone who wants to express themselves creatively, whether it is through art, music, writing, speaking, film …we have tools at our disposal that almost take my breath away. I’m old enough to have lived most of my life in a pre-technology world. I learned to type on a manual typewriter and remember being terrified when someone sat me down at an electric typewriter the first time! I’m not the teary type but I remember crying the first time I tried to learn computers. You had to code in Fortran and I just couldn’t get the hang of it. Way too much attention to detail for my big picture brain. I now embrace new technology because I am clear that it is the pathway to the creative expression I crave and am no longer willing to live without.

    If I can offer you one piece of advice about writing some creative fiction it would be this. Don’t set out to write a novel. Sit down and write the story you are passionate about. If you simply invite the story to flow through you, I know that you’ll end up with something great and it will create its own shape and form. It’ll be rather like a chanelling process, where you are both the channeler and the channelee! …personally, I can hardly wait to see what you produce.

    In addition to books, I write articles about personal growth, creativity and small business which I publish on my website. And I’ve got a gig writing a monthly column for a local lifestyle magazine. It requires that I seek out interesting and unusual folks in the area. One of my best stories was about a 93-yr old woman who still teaches Tai Chi. And this month it is a photo-essay about quirky rural mailboxes in the area. Been at that for 19 months now and it hasn’t lost its lustre. In fact, I love the adventure of it.

    Whew, that was a big dump! Thanks for the opportunity to talk about something I am so passionate about.

    Gwen McCauley

  9. admin says

    Hi Gwen, wow! That was a brilliant comment – more like a blog post in itself. I so appreciate your sharing your story, which is wonderful! I love the fact that self-pub means you can create a book for your family, or for the general public. You sound like a prolific creator, even the quirky mailboxes sound very cool!
    Thanks for your encouragement and advice for me and others. I have started the novel process, but have also returned to almost fulltime work so a little overwhelmed! I will get there though, because creation is an important part of my life, as it is for you!
    Thanks, Joanna

  10. says

    Well, I’d be interested in reading what you write in a fiction novel. :-) I think you’ve gotten some of the platform already down for selling fiction. I know who you are and am interested in the book just because your name is on it. That’s not a bad start. I’m assuming if there’s one person who feels this way, then there’s bound to be others who’d agree.

    Anyway, I think once I set aside the “I have to traditionally publish” mantra that was among all of my writing peers in my writing circles, I really started to get passionate about writing. It was no longer me writing for what a publisher wanted. I was writing what I wanted, and that’s when I became more passionate about writing than I’d ever been. Traditional publishing has its place, but it would not allow me to be who I really am. (This, of course, is just me and my experience.) I think self-publishing opens people up, and it definitely eliminates the fear of rejection.

  11. admin says

    Thanks so much Ruth. I hope that by building my platform I will get some readers for fiction when it happens. I try to practice what I preach after all! I know you are a prolific writer and also building your platform so thanks for your comment.


  12. deborah wall says

    Hi Joanna,

    Your post sang to me in two ways. I’m 43 and have a love/hate relationship with my writing (which I’m looking to change). When I’m at the page and my writing self has been unleashed I can’t imagine anything better. When the temperature cools and my thinking self takes back control, self-doubt reins supreme.

    Your post reassured my inner writer that there is hope for me. That fear can be conquered, dreams can be reached and I can learn to play with my writing instead of dreading it.

    I’ve recently finished writing a children’s novel that I had always planned to self publish. When it was returned from an assessement with a children’s editor, along with corrections and some fabulous suggestions, the editor questioned my decision to self-publish. It was enough for me to loose my footing.

    Reading your post has reiterated what I’ve always believed about self-publishing, it is an act of empowerment. Thank you.

  13. says

    Hi Deborah,
    Thank you so much for your comment and I’m glad the post helped you. Self-pub has truly changed my life and I am just starting my first novel, after years of being afraid of non-fiction writing.

    So well done for carrying on writing. Self-pub for me was a way to start, without the rejection, but I still want to be get a publishing deal. There are many ways to get your work out there now. I like to share those options!
    All the best, Joanna

  14. Katherine says

    Hi Joanna,

    Thank you so much for this post. I missed it the first time around.

    I’m in the final editing stage of a book right now. As I near completion of it, I am feeling ‘called’ to self publish and do something different than the usual Amazon blast approach. It’s not as important to me to add the words best-selling author to my CV as it is to be part of the shift in consciousness we are all experiencing right now. I want to help people to move through the frustration or fear that it sometimes causes and become the brilliant creative being they really are.

    I think we are all being asked to learn trust in our own inner guidance more than what we hear from others (one theme in my book), and that’s what I read in your words. As I read the post, I was saying yes, yes, YES!

    Thank you!


  15. says

    I share your sentiments as you may not be alone in that kind of challenge in your writer’s life. Yes, it is a challenge as many other people in different careers are facing but as long as you know how to overcome your fear, you will soon be reaching your career heights. Self-publishing has not only created a way for writers who cannot seem to take the “rules” of traditional publishing a new means to share their books to people who might love what they wrote but also paved the way for writers to eventually reach their dreams of seeing their book on different bookshelves, online or offline. I salute you for your courage in facing your fears.

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