This is the fifth post in myFear Stages in Writingseries, where I explore the stages of writing and the way fear hits it. It’s my theory that most of these fears have their roots in childhood, and our inner two year old is the best cure for them!

This is the series so far:

1.the introduction

2.first draft-itis


  1. finalizing

This week’s topic is: submitting and self-publishing. Here are the questions from the introduction:

Do you fear the editors?

Do you hate to let go of your story?

Do you feel you are worthy of the market you are submitting to?

Submitting or choosing to self-publish can both be harrowing processes. I bet you have a lot of stories that you have never sent out into the world because fear kept you from doing so. Here are two ways that fear can play a role in both submitting your stories and self-publishing them.

No one will buy this

Here are the things that fear can mumble at you related to this:

  • The story doesn’t fit in any market you can see.
  • You can’t give it a perfect little category to market it in.
  • Your friends are better writers than you, and they can’t sell their stories, why would you be any different?

This fear is so tricky, as it plays into a very basic need we have: we need to feel accepted by certain people, we need to feel validated. It’s the basic need of the girl in school wanting the teacher to tell her that she did a great job at her homework. It’s what children feel when their grandmother gives them another cookie.

When you think no one will buy your story so you can just shelve it, what you truly fear is that no one will accept you as you are. That’s a fear that stems from your childhood. It’s not YOU!

Everyone will laugh at me when they see how many mistakes I made

This is a fun one. Many authors can attest to this: the moment they see their work in publication, they see a typo or a little plot error they made. Everyone. Even the big selling authors. It just happens. No matter how many beta readers you let read your story, no matter how many editors you hire, errors will slip in. It’s inevitable. Do the best you can. Hire a great editor to look at your story, and accept that there will always be a tiny mistake somewhere. It’s just like that.

And you know, if you keep striving for perfection you won’t get published. Do you really want to have “writer of 10 unpublished novels and 130 unpublished stories” on your tombstone?

Inner two year old to the rescue

You are sitting at your desk and stare at your finished manuscript. You don’t want to send it out into the world, you fear being rejected and that people don’t see how much work is in all those words. How do you break through your fears?

  • Set rejection goals that make collecting rejection letters tremendous fun. “When I have 50 rejections I am allowed to buy myself an iPad.”
  • Remind yourself of why you loved to write the story. That will help you find the reason to get it published now.
  • Celebrate your failures, giggle like mad at that one typo in the story that you missed, but got it published anyway. Wager on how many people will spot it. They have to read your story to find it, so that’s a sale!
  • What do you want to write? Make writing your focus, not publishing. This way you won’t let fear slip in when you send your stories out into the world.
  • Write an interview with yourself set 5 years in the future about how amazing you were at submitting and receiving rejections. Act your way through your fear!
  • (rerun from the finalizing post, but it is so important to repeat!) Love the fact that you are here to give stories legs, arms, hands and feet, and that you are there to make them all perfect in your eyes. Then give them a chance to find their own way. Give yourself a big smile and a thumbs up in the mirror for a job well done!

Next week the topic is rejection and acceptance. Which of the two do you fear most?

I have decided to add one more fear stage. I think I conveniently forgot this one when I made the original post. It’s self-promotion. How many of you felt their throat clench at that one?