Blaze releases in 13 days, and I'm not ready.
I mean, yes, I pulled together a blog tour, built my platform from 2K to 17.5K, did a number of interviews, reached out to influencers, got some endorsers, etc.
But as we moved past the threshold of two weeks until the release, I feel anything but ready. And with a few lukewarm reviews already on the book, I worry that:
A) Everyone will hate it
B) No one will read it
I know authors, and well, people in general, often feel this way. Unprepared. Unready. Unsteady.
Whether they have a job interview or just need to figure out how to get through to next Tuesday, people can often lose faith in their work, their dreams, and themselves.
If this speaks to you, let the following ways help you to regain confidence:
1. See how far you've come
Writers often hate their first published book.
Because years later, they look back and realize they didn't refine the craft as much as they do now.
You're growing, I promise.
2. Get a James
My friend James doesn't let me give up.
Trust me. He gets frequent texts like, "Can I die now?" and "Please just let me quit."
He won't budge. He makes me stick it through. "Because it's worth it. Because people need to hear what you have to say."
So I do. Find someone who believes in you when you can't believe in yourself.
3. Don't look at reviews
Some authors will fight me on this, but I won't forget what New York Times bestselling author Stephen James told me at a conference, in regard to reviews:
"If they say something nice about it, I'll get a big head and think I'm all that. But if they give it a bad review, I'll think I can't write. So I just don't look at them."
I do love feedback, and if someone emails me their thoughts on how they liked the manuscript/how I can improve it, I will read it with all ears. But sometimes you just need to step away from Goodreads and Amazon for a while.
4. Step away from social media for a while
I love the friends I've made on Twitter and their silly banter.
But sometimes you just need a break from the perfect and embrace, for the time being, the present.
5. You have a reason for being here
I know not everyone who reads this is religious. But I do believe every person has a purpose. Do not give up. The world needs a little bit of you every day.
6. Exercise every day
No, you don't have to join a Cross-fit group.
Just go outside for an hour. Pace around the cubicles in your office. Do something to get you moving.
7. Prune and establish boundaries
I love everyone, even those who hurt me.
But I still need space. Yes, I love others, but I often, in my efforts to please everyone, forget to love myself.
It got to such a bad point that one of my friends told me, "Hope, if you treated your friends the same way you treated yourself, you'd have no friends."
8. Know you can't please everyone
People hate chocolate. I'm not talking about the lactose intolerant people. I'm talking about the lactose-abled people. I know some of those who hate chocolate. Why? I don't know. Maybe someone chucked a candy bar at their head in childhood.
If you create something beautiful, if you are beautiful inside and out, someone will not like you. That's OK. Live anyway.
9. Look at the patriarchs
Most famous authors, actors, etc., had to claw and fight and starve and cry into their roles as pioneers and earth shakers.
If you feel like the world's pitted against you, go another step. You're closer than you think.
10. Everyone feels like an imposter
If you have minor success, you will often feel like you didn't earn it.
You did. Especially in publishing, no one gives handouts. You earn everything in this business. Every book sale, every platform number. You earned it.
Jerry B. Jenkins once told me, "Even when I write books now, I always worry if I can do the same caliber of writing. Will I make it this time, or have I lost my writing abilities altogether?"
This man has sold 70 million books. He still feels like an imposter.
11. Make room for imperfect
You will mess up. I've found typos in Harry Potter, in the Chronicles of Narnia. Relax and allow yourself to write without editing, paint without restarting, and live without regretting.
12. You won't be the best; that's OK
People break world records all the time. Even if you do land yourself in the #1 spot, you won't occupy that for long.
Stop comparing, and keep going.
13. You are so much more than a trophy
I love book contracts. When I get them for clients, when I get them myself.
It seems that I focused on just getting those and not on the whole journey to receive them. I forgot about the friendships I made along the way, the incredible God moments, and amazing opportunities that came.
14. You won't always feel this way
Depression episodes pass, I promise. Even if you have it your whole life, you will have days where you feel as though nothing can hurt you.
It will. But you'll rise again. And again. And again.
15. Inspire future generations
My AP Lit teacher put my book on her outside reading list. That means students can read it over the summer, take a test on it during the school year, and share their thoughts on Blaze.
That means students can read something by a former student and know that, in a few years, they too could make that dream a reality.
You have no idea how many people you will inspire. Don't let them down. Keep going.