Why are authors terrified of everything?

Photo credit: Andrew E Weber

Photo credit: Andrew E Weber

If you judge the mood of indie authors these days by what they post on Facebook and Goodreads groups, you are left with the distinct impression that most of them are afraid of everything. Rejection letters and the possibility of negative (mean) feedback gives them hives. Any review under 4 stars is a disaster. Internet trolls are lurking everywhere, waiting to ruin their lives. The slightest misspoken word will alienate readers. Pricing their ebooks above $3 is unconscionable, and so is paying more than $1 for, well, anything.

Where does all this fear come from?

My theory: These authors have FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out. Although, it might be more accurate to say FOMAD, or Fear Of Missing A Dollar, when it comes to authors

Basically, all roads lead to them never making money as an author. Here's how their mind works:

  • Rejection letters and negative feedback means their writing is no good = No one will buy their books.
  • Any review under 4 stars and trolls who purposely leave bad reviews means a bad overall rating online = No one will buy their books.
  • Alienating potential readers means they'll somehow drive readers to become trolls = No one will buy their books.
  • Pricing their ebooks above $3 means they're asking readers for too much (thus, discounting their own time and effort) = No one will buy their books.
  • Paying more than $1 for anything (promo services, ads, book covers, editing, web hosting) means they're spending too much = They'll never make a profit on their books.

Of course, all of this assumes that writing is not only a job (which it is), but also that the only goal to your writing a book is to make money, rather than writing the book, because you love writing (which should be the real reason you write). If this is your thinking - that you wrote your book to make money - you're in for a rough ride. Writing a book is one of the SLOWEST ways to go about making a lot of money.

In case no one has already told you this, very few books are runaway best-sellers right out of the gate. Those authors that do manage that can pretty much say and do whatever they want without fearing that readers will stop buying their books.

So, what are you really afraid of? If you love to write, then write. Take bad reviews with a grain of salt - if there's a lesson to be learned in the feedback, learn it and then move on. A bad review never really hurt an author. If you have trouble with Internet trolls, turn screen shots of their reviews into a Twitter montage. Price your books somewhere between what you know it's worth and what the market will accept (looking at books from the big 5 publishers is a good barometer).

And, stop worrying so much!

Your fear does nothing but taking up your time and causing you undue stress. Set yourself free from your fear and reap the rewards.

- A.M.