My performance anxiety doesn’t just include sex — it includes just about every area of my life. Even reading. Like sex, I’m worried I don’t do it enough.
Click to listen
Being a writer, an artist of any sort, and you’ve got to deal with this issue. If you’re a writer trying to get a publishing contract out of New York it’s like trying online dating carried out by messenger pigeons.
First, you send out your query package to agents. As if you don’t have enough to worry about, you know your package is being judged and most of the time it doesn’t measure up. You don’t even get a quick response, or sometimes a response at all.
Then, even if the agent admits you’ve got a decent package usually they’re going to want to groom your package so it’s considered just right for the prospective publishers that are your ultimate targets.
And they must use messenger pigeons because the responses back from publishers — if you get one at all — tend to be so long in coming, and so cryptically brief that they might as well have been written on a tiny rolled up piece of paper tied to a pigeon’s leg.
Who wouldn’t have performance anxiety when faced with that sort of setup? And seriously, where is the online dating equivalent for submitting material to publishers? Create your profile, post your query packages and pay your $9.99 per month to get whispers from interested publishers, complete with sexy pictures of contracts that you’ll never see.
Of course indie authors will be quick to point out that the writer’s equivalent of an online dating service already exists — it’s called Amazon KDP.
They claim it’s better because your book gets checked out by actual readers, not publishers, and that’s supposed to be your ultimate goal anyway. Of course none of those readers will offer you a six-figure advance. I guess it is somewhat like online dating — the writers with the sexiest packages get a bunch of dates with readers while the rest of the profiles sit neglected and unread.
Think about how much of a challenge that is for all those shy, introverted writers out there? The traditional path might be slow, what with the pigeons and all, but ultimately you’re making a connection with that one special editor who will champion your cause to the rest of the publishing house. Taking the indie route you’ve got to find one person after another that likes your particular book.
You can try to get more interest by posting your profile and books on the other writer platforms like Nook Press, Kobo Writing Life or Smashwords — which almost sound like dating sites — but how many people are really going to visit those sites? Are you better off focusing exclusively on Amazon’s KDP Select program? Or will you generate more dates — called sales — by signing up for Kobo Writing Life?
Reviews are one of the things that writers depend on with this online dating approach to publishing. How many people are going to check out your profile if there are no stars or reviews? Even if you have a sexy picture, readers won’t take a chance unless there’s evidence that you really will show them a good time. That’s true whether you’re published traditionally or have gone the indie route, but the traditionally published writer at least got a loan up front because the publisher believes having that profile out there will generate more interest and revenue.
I’ve been guilty of reading a writer’s work and not bothering to leave a review of whether or not I’ve enjoyed the experience. Following the do unto others rule, I’ve started leaving short reviews of books that I’ve read. I’m not leaving negative reviews because that just seems mean. Instead I’ll post something like 5-stars:
“Read Kevin J. Anderson’s Slimy Underbelly for a good time!”
Only if it’s true. Sometimes I’ll go to four stars but I really don’t want to give anyone a rating less than that. If I can’t say that I was entertained, then I just won’t leave a review.
It’s interesting seeing what other people will post. I read Jason by Laurell K. Hamilton recently. If you’ve read the series as it has progressed you can see that some readers don’t like the direction it has taken. The whole point of the new book is sex and Anita’s relationships. Apparently there’s a whole bunch of people that aren’t looking for sex when they read — clearly not Hamilton’s ideal reader. If you want a short, sexy, hot read check it out.
All of this adds to my own performance anxiety. It’s easy to get those other voices in my head, making me self-censor what I write. I can’t have that going on. Maybe no one is checking out my stuff, but I think I should be myself. I think most people will agree that confidence is sexy.
With that in mind I’m working to conquer my performance anxiety. I’ll continue putting my work out there, work on my impossible goals, and see how this all plays out.
Thanks for listening. Let me know if you have questions. Sign up for my newsletter (in the sidebar) to get information on new releases and opportunities to score advanced reader copies. I hope you’ll check out my work, and if you want to help out, let people know if you’ve had a good time.