jon-tyson-195064I’m forcing myself out of my comfort zone and trying a few “go-to” marketing methods other indies swear by. It feels strange to be paying for advertising. My brain wants to label the act a failure. It wants to label me one too. And I didn’t realize how much of that “failure” was self-prohecised until I watched Ksenia Anske’s live Facebook video about how to get out of your own way so that you can start making sales and building a loyal readership.

The moment she said that the rejection was all in my head, manifesting simply because that’s what I was afraid of and therefore expected…because for some sad sick reason that’s what I thought I deserved, it all clicked.

Pen & Xander is the best novel I’ve ever written. There is no reason it shouldn’t find an audience. In fact, it already has one…they’re all just eagerly waiting for me to find them and share this story with them. That’s what I have to believe if this book is going to have any semblance of life. I have to believe that this story is exactly what many people are looking for. That I’ve written something worth shouting about.

So I started doing something scary. Something I usually NEVER do.

I actually gave myself permission to send the novel to a few friends. There were no strings attached but I have to stop assuming that the people who care about me the most are the ones I must shield my art from at all costs. Usually, when I publish something new, I tell no one but the internet. Very few family members have read my work and that’s only because they found it on their own. But it wasn’t until today that I realized my secrecy doesn’t come from a place of not wanting to be an icky sales person. It comes from my fear that my stories aren’t good enough.

And this fear fuels every decision I make about my books. I always claimed that I didn’t need to spend money on marketing; that it was a waste. The truth is I didn’t think my books were worth the investment. I preferred to give away copies to new readers than to ask them to spend their own money not because I was trying to be generous but because I didn’t think my books were worth the money.

It makes absolutely no sense, especially after all the time and creative energy I’ve spent over the past six years. In that time I’ve written eight novels. How do I still not believe in myself? How am I still struggling with the same doubts I had as a teenager? Maybe I’ll always struggle with my fear of failure. But maybe there’s a way to harness that fear and use it as fuel. Maybe it starts with acknowledging that it’s there and then doing the scary thing anyway. It’s how Pen survives. By pretending. So I will pretend. Every time I hit send, every time I share my story with someone new, every time I sit down to write. Until  my convictions are stronger than my fears and I’m no longer running from the success I deserve.



Every writer you know who has been shelving manuscript after manuscript; every writer you know who frantically checks their sales page every half hour; every writer you know who spends more time staring down a blank page than actually writing; every writer you know who is too afraid to even call themselves that isn’t actually afraid of not finishing. But of not being good enough. The fear of failure has crippled us all, and if we’re lucky we experience a little bit of success–enough to quell those fears for a while. But what no one tells you is that success fixes nothing. Because once you have a little bit of success, that fear of failure is quickly replaced by something else. The fear of being a disappointment.

While finishing TDOTN, every time I felt blocked, the words barely trickling out, I had the luxury of reminding myself that I had finished 6 other novels. I could finish this one too. I would. Success had leveled some of my doubt but it wasn’t the fear of running out of words that kept stopping me in my tracks. It was the fear of finishing, of coming to the end of the series, and it not being good enough. Not good enough for readers. Not good enough for the characters and the world I’d spent 5 years building.

I spent 2 years working on this novel–rewriting, revising, building it piece by piece and tearing it back down again. I came to a point when I realized that it would never be perfect–a moment of revelation I have with every novel–and that if I didn’t set some kind of deadline I would never be able to move on. I needed to move on. So that’s what I did. I set a deadline. I finished the novel. I published it. And then my worst fears came true. People were disappointed.

This blog post isn’t about me trying to explain the lesson in all of this. It’s still too fresh for me to find the value. I understand the mistakes I made and how I let down my readers who pre-ordered the novel by delivering a faulty file. I also understand how great of a risk it was to trust that Amazon would value its KDP authors enough to fix the mistakes they made as well. But I’m not talking about the disappointment surrounding how the book was delivered to customers. I’m talking about the disappointment people felt about the story. The story. My world. My characters. My ending. Right now…it’s way too painful to understand the lesson in all of that. But I will. One day soon I will wake up and not be so afraid to start again.