Putting your Work into the Wild

I remember when I first told someone I was writing a book. His response? “I can’t wait to read it so I can get into your head.”

I won’t lie, his answer freaked me out more than a little.

I’ve also experienced the fear that my work won’t be good enough. The question, “What if people hate it,” has run its course through my head more times than I would care to admit.

When one of my novels was picked up for publication, I put some of those fears aside. I mean, surely someone wouldn’t publish the book if it was complete rubbish, right? Also, I would have a professional editor to help me polish it to a brilliant shine.

When the book was released, I was excited. Apprehensive, but excited. When I got the first few reviews, I was ecstatic. The problem was, the first few reviews turned out to be ALL the reviews. I had a few kind people send me various communications of support, which was nice, but that was really it.

When the second book came out, a few of my friends quickly bought it, saying how much they liked the first one. But, they were friends – it isn’t that their opinion didn’t count – more that opinions can be affected by knowing someone. Maybe they were being nice(r) because they knew me.

How did those complete strangers out there who read it feel? Unfortunately, the comments and reviews were almost non-existent, so that question had to remain unanswered. Maybe there weren’t any complete strangers reading the book. I simply didn’t know.

Fast forward to last weekend when I had the wonderful experience of attending When Words Collide. I have been attending that particular writing festival since its inception (I did miss a year when I was in Japan – last year – with my Scouts). I’ve always had good support from my friends there. But, once again, they are friends.

This year, I went by my Champagne Books Publisher’s table where Jack Kane and the Statue of Liberty was on display. Ellen (my publisher) had graciously allowed me to showcase my Mik Murdoch books there with it. She told me a mom and son had just been by and were thrilled to see the third book, Mik Murdoch: Crisis of Conscience was available. They bought that book along with Jack Kane.

I was mystified as to the purchasers; Ellen’s description didn’t shed any light as to who they were.

I ran across them less than ten minutes later at the registration table. We chatted for several minutes and I signed their books. I’m still not sure how they discovered me, but I am delighted they did. It was so nice to meet them and learn that my books were ones they cherished and looked forward to.

It was then that I realized how very fortunate I was to have books out in the wild, available to whomever wants one. I was also reminded that my friends want to help me be a success. That means they don’t feed me false praise. They tell me when something needs work. They promote me when I’m not around.

riskrewardInsecurity and trepidation are too easy for me (and probably for other writers too). I need to take the harder road and believe when people tell me I am a good writer. As odd as it might sound, believing in myself is a risk. What happens when I write something that doesn’t meet someone’s expectations? What happens if I fail to live up to my own expectations?

Inversely, what heights can I achieve when I listen to praise and try to keep improving? That question is worth thinking about and the risks are worth taking for the rewards that are out there.



  1. Well said Michell. I feel the same way. You go through waves of thinking your book is the best book ever to times where you wonder if everyone will think it sucks. But we must persevere!

  2. Michell,

    Even though I don’t write much I’ve found this to be true in other creative endeavors.

    I’ve been burned by criticism and found it very difficult to be creative in that field again because of it.

    I’m going to start writing again. I wrote one fanfic that’s gotten some positive feedback and am going to try my hand at another one using different characters. Baby steps, right?

  3. Any steps are good steps. Way to go!

    I too have been burned by criticism. I’ve gradually learned to take it but it still hurts, especially when I find that the criticism is wrong (based on others’ feedback) or intended to be harmful. Constructive criticism I can take any day of the week because I know it’s intended to make my work better.

    Thank you for your comment.


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