I hear it happens to everyone. We get to a nice and comfortable point in our career, and then start to wonder if we can ever get better. What once was good enough suddenly seems to have problems that are insurmountable. Clawing at the back of our minds is that fear our fans will start to hate us.
For me, I think that’s the biggest worry I have. I adore my fans. The more I learn who you people are, the more I want to give back. I want to make you read the book and fall in love, scream in fear, and cheer when the hero wins. But what if I don’t?
Now, I’m well aware that not everyone will love my books. That would be impossible! Some have gay people in them, other are set on a world where the main population descended from Africa. Sometimes, my characters cuss. In the case of Riley, it’s excessive! Someone is going to be upset by those things, and pretending like they don’t happen just isn’t in my nature.
But the people who do? The idea of disappointing you all is one of my many nightmares. It’s the pressure that drives me to stay up late doing one last read-through before sending the book out to be published. You’re the reason I push to write a little faster, a lot better, and keep that beloved series churning out as fast as you can read them. I spend hours wondering if the plot is good enough, unique enough, and can the characters move you enough to be worthy of those who are willing to BUY my books.
I like to think the answer is yes. From my sales, I believe it is. And yet, I still have moments where I’m like, “this book is complete crap and I have to start over! My fans deserve so much better!” (Usually wailed at the top of my lungs like the world is ending, but hey, they never said authors weren’t overly dramatic.)
But that also means that when I get it right, I know it. Some books just feel so good when I make it to the end. I know people will lose themselves for at least a day (and probably won’t be able to put it down). We often joke about the Auryn effect with my beta readers. They have to plan ahead so they don’t pick up a new book without enough time to make it to the end.
And then, sometimes I don’t. Every so often, I end up with a story-stopping mistake.
Tenacity was one of those examples. Something about it felt off, but there were still good parts. I sent it out to my most trusted readers. They sent back their opinion. Things stuck here. They weren’t right there. Overall, there was potential, but it was lackluster.
And that’s not at all what an author wants to hear!
So I made it better – and sent it back. Then I made it better, and better still. I took the advice, my intentions, and the knowledge of what comes next, and mashed it all up. Then, after a month of delay, the final result is…. page turning.
But I’m going to have to read it one more time before I let it go. The release is scheduled. The fans are waiting. Me? I’m terrified that I might let my readers down in some way, yet can’t stop thinking that I nailed it this time. The last concern I had about the story has been fixed, the typos should all be gone (ha! Right. As if that happens), but I’m still terrified that I will let down the people who helped me go from a wanna-be to a successful author.
I guess that’s a fear that I’ll never get over. Here’s hoping that it only makes me a better writer.