How an editor calmed my fears as a writer

When I was freaking out about publishing my first book, I emailed my editor (TJ) with my fears and questions.

She sent back one of the most helpful emails that I will keep forever.

I’ll share it here in case it helps and other writers.

JD to TJ:

So I only have more thing to do with the final run-through and then I can send the manuscript. 

Only, I’m having doubts. Can I get your advice? 

Are you able to tell me if the book is any good (or will be good with a structural and copy edit)? I just don’t really want to publish if it’s no good. I want to honour the people who are in the book by publishing it asap, but I’m second-guessing getting it out there if it’s plain boring and no-one would want to read it. 

I’m too close to it, so I feel can’t give an unbiased or overcompensated view. I know you can get appraisals before editing and was wondering if you think I should do that first? Or is there any way you could just tell me yes or no if it’s any good from what you’ve seen of it so far?  

Or just any advice about what to do in this situation?  

Sorry for the panic – hehe. Just not sure who to ask and tell all these fears to. 

TJ to JD:

No worries, panic is a normal part of the writing (and a vital part of the editing) process; no doubt you know that already. 

I wouldn’t have quoted on your book if I didn’t see in it the potential to be a truly worthy book. I’m not saying the book is perfect; that’s why editing is a good idea. But you’ve already got my vote of confidence. 

There’s no one with a gun to your head to get this book out ASAP. No matter when it arrives, people will be thrilled ecstatically to find their quotes printed in it. 

But you know what, even if you look at your book and think “eh, it’s still not perfect”, I was reading another book today and came across this quote:

“the woods would be very silent
if no birds sang there
except those that sang best”
– Henry van Dyke 

I don’t know if appraisals are worth the effort, honestly – they cost nearly as much as editing. But beta readers, second readers, are worth their weight in gold, and they’re free. So definitely, if you want to, ask some of your most trusted fellow bloggers – who aren’t “friends” so they’re not biased – to read it and give you some overall pointers of “I liked this, I didn’t like that.” No harm asking them to give you their impression of it. 

Think about it, pray about it, but don’t let fear fester; no point letting fear control your creative desires. If you want to know more about that there’s a great book I love called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (not The Art of War lol) where he talks about killing the fear that blocks your creative drive from expressing itself. 

TJ’s email was so helpful!

I was encouraged – given courage to get this book out there.

I LOVE that quote and I read The War of Art – both were so helpful.

I ended up getting beta readers and published the book.

Check out her website and editing services: TJ Withers

What are your fears as a writer?

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